Being your own boss is exactly as wonderful as it sounds. I get to make my own schedule, take free time when I need it, and choose my own projects based on my interests and goals. However, by far the biggest difficulty that comes with being self-employed is the challenge of maintaining inspiration and motivation when working from home.
This may sound strange to office workers. After all, in 2016, Forbes reported that 51 percent of employees believe they would work better from home than in a traditional office. Surely, finding inspiration when you have control over your work environment should be simple? Well, not quite. The challenge lies in creating an environment and a schedule that works for you specifically, and this takes quite a bit of trial and error.
These are the things I have learned through this process.
Designing My Ideal Home Office
Your home office should be tailor-made to your needs, and it should be designed to maximize productivity and inspiration. First, focus on the practicalities, such as productivity. Your office should have everything you need to work without distractions, quality equipment that will not fail you five minutes before a deadline, and comfortable furniture that you can work on for hours.
Then, you can focus on the things that inspire you. This is where it gets personal. Some people love surrounding themselves with motivational posters, others prefer family photos, and some like a shelf full of books. One thing that everyone should have is a few houseplants, which are known to boost productivity and well-being by up to 50 percent.
Finding My Schedule
One of the most exciting things about working from home is the flexibility. Want to work from your bed in your pajamas at 10 pm? No one is stopping you. However, you may soon find this freedom to be more of a curse than a blessing — at least I did. It’s often difficult to find motivation when you don’t have any regularity or discipline. Structuring your workday is less exciting, but it’s ultimately far more productive. For me, the classic nine-to-five (with some give on either end and the occasional Friday off) ended up being the best solution.
Working from home can be very lonely. Even if you hate the small talk, meetings, and constant distractions that come with an office (and many people do), you may find yourself missing it when you are spending your days by yourself. This is why you need to seek out socialization during your day. Call a friend, invite someone for lunch, or schedule in a group exercise class. You should also aim to meet with clients and collaborators in person whenever you can, which doubles as a chance for socializing and a good business practice.
It’s very easy to get bogged down with the everyday details of the job and, in the process, forget why you are doing this. When this happens, it becomes difficult to find the motivation for daily work because I have lost sight of the overall motivation for my career choices. A combination of both short-term goals and larger long-term goals is the most effective way to keep your everyday job in perspective while working towards something concrete. Visualizing your goals on a vision board and placing it in your office is a great way to remind yourself of why you are doing this when you can’t see the bigger picture.
Working from home can be one of the most rewarding and productive experiences of your career, whether you are self-employed or simply working remotely for a company. However, the biggest challenge is that it is completely up to you to make it so. You are in control of your work environment, schedule, and daily interactions, so it’s only by proactively planning that you will achieve your goals. Don’t worry — it’s not as difficult as it sounds.
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