Today’s guest post comes to you from Vanessa Bowen of Nessbow. Vanessa’s fashion blog was originally an outlet for her to share her eclectic personal style and penchant for alternative fashion but it blossomed into a site about self-exploration, self-care and thepreservation of self-worth from the self described love child of Judy Garland and David Bowie. Be friends with her on facebook and twitter!
If you work for yourself, you’ve no doubt faced a range of productivity road-blacks. Procrastination, lethargy and burn-out are all barriers to successful self-employment. I’ve spent the last eight years either studying or blogging, and I’ve found a few ways to overcome these pitfalls.
Set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals.
Create goals that are specific and measurable. I find that it also helps to make several smaller goals to compliment each big goal. Make a yearly or monthly goal, and then plan out what steps you could take daily or weekly to help you to work towards it.
Identify your partner in crime.
A partner in crime is a person who aids your procrastination. If you’re regularly finding yourself distracted by a particular person, it’s time the two of you had a chat. Explain to them that your work is important, and that you need to work without disruptions. Make it clear that it’s nothing personal, and plan to do something fun with them this weekend.
Take smart breaks.
Taking breaks can be tricky. It’s easy to sit down for a ten-minute break and spend the next three hours watching cat videos on Youtube. Plan at least one ten-minute break for every hour of work you do. Even if you don’t feel tired, taking a short amount of time away from your desk will refresh you and help you to work better for longer. If you don’t think that you can trust yourself to stick to your allotted break times, set an alarm for the end of your break and put it on your desk. Make sure that the sound is loud and obnoxious, so that you’ll have to walk to your desk if you want the audio-assault to end.
Be realistic about how much you can do each day.
I often set myself a mountainous to-do list and then lament over the fact that I rarely reach the bottom of it before the day is out. It’s really important to be realistic about exactly how much you can get done in one day. In the morning, choose the three most important tasks and make these your priority. Consider any extra work a bonus.
Change your surroundings.
Cabin fever can start to sink its itchy little claws into you when you’re stuck in the same spot all the time. If you can, set up a workspace in a room other than your bedroom. Also, take your work outside occasionally, to a library, a park or a café if possible.
Be tough, but not rough on yourself.
Sometimes, you might need to give yourself a swift, metaphorical kick up the backside so you can get junk done. However, there’s a difference between being tough and being rough on yourself. You’re being tough when you give yourself a shot of self-discipline for being lazy. You’re being rough when you’re punishing yourself for making a mistake, or forcing yourself to keep working when you’re exhausted. It’s good to be tough on yourself when you need it. It’s not OK to be rough on yourself. Treat yourself kindly, always.
How do you stay motivated when you’re working for yourself?