We’ve all been there before. You got something that you need to work on, whether it’s a load of data to enter or your pet project for National Novel Writing Month (which, by the way, is in November). Maybe you cranked something out and you liked it, or maybe you didn’t. Perhaps you wrote some things down but tossed it out. It can be hard to stay motivated when trying to write and work. Between writer’s block and getting distracted, there can be plenty of things that can get in the way between you and your work.
And I have definitely been there. It’s not a fun time.
But in my experiences, there are some lessons that I have learned about writing and how to really get/stay motivated. Here are some simple suggestions that I have successfully tried in my own life. Perhaps you can apply it in your own life.
1. Take Care of Yourself
This sounds so cliché, I know. But trust me, this is something that people often overlook.
I know that a popular mentality these days is grinding non-stop and hustling from dawn till dusk. And I think there is some truth to that. But I also believe that in order to put your best effort in something you’re passionate about, you also need to make sure you are in the right place to give it 110%.
Often I have found that things as small as taking a shower and eating a nice healthy meal can make one motivated. It’s pretty hard to work on an empty stomach, and a shower can be pretty refreshing.
Getting enough rest is also very important. I sometimes know you have to work all night to crank out something by the next day. But take some time to take care of yourself too. Plan everything out as soon as you figure out your deadlines. Be sure to include time to take a rest and get some sleep before writing.
2. Get Yourself in the Right Mindset to Work
I think when trying to motivate yourself to work and write, a lot of it can be based on your physical condition, sure. But there is also a psychological aspect to it that’s important as well.
Now, I know that sounds vague, but I do have some practical suggestions. You can get yourself motivated psychologically by changing things like your presentation and surroundings. Something that I like to do when working from home is dressing as if you’re going to work. I know that it’s tempting to wear your pajamas when working around the house. That is the perk of working from home, right?
Well, you don’t have to dress up THIS nicely (unless you want to!)
But sometimes when I don’t feel so productive, a change of clothes can really make a difference. Instead of pajama pants and a t-shirt, maybe try switching into business casual clothes! Put on a dress shirt and some trousers. Changing your outfit not only makes you feel more confident in yourself, but can also help boost performance too!
After all, if you’re going to play the part of a working adult, might as well look the part while you’re working, right?
And I am seriously not making this up. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology shows that students who wore lab coats tended to perform better on tests that required care and attention.
How you present yourself not only affects the surrounding people (and your standing with them), but also yourself!
So dress like you’re going to work when you can and feel free to be creative!
One of my favorite things to do when I start a new day working at home is figuring out what outfit I’ll wear for work. But this time, I won’t be going to a crowded office full of annoying coworkers and a rude boss. I’m at home!
3. Find and Make Your Workspace
This is really important. Your physical settings can sometimes affect your motivation and performance. If you’re planning on working in your room, that’s fine! Just make sure you make it a good space to work. Keep everything neat on your desk and keep track of everything important that you need for work. Don’t clutter your workspace! Try to be minimalist with the way you organize your workspace, because you can get lost in the clutter pretty easily. Well, at least that’s what happens to me when things get a bit too crowded on my desk.
I say this because sometimes, there are places that I just automatically associate with relaxing and lazing about. For example, it’s really hard to work in my room because I usually go there to nap/sleep. So if I go there and start working, well… I’ll probably fall asleep.
Sometimes leaving the house might be helpful. I know, we’re talking about work-at-home jobs, but sometimes going somewhere like the library or your favorite coffee shop can really set the mood for work. Working at Starbucks or my local university library can dramatically boost my motivation because those places I associate with productivity (and who doesn’t love the smell of roasting coffee).
4. Pomodoro Method
Having a work-at-home job is just like any other job. There is going to be work and lots of it, even if it pays off in the end. But I sometimes know we get distracted or need a break.
The Pomodoro Method has been something recommended to me by many friends and teachers. I really like it because it not only gives you plenty of time to work, but enough time to take a break without completely killing your motivation to go back to work.
The basic idea behind is you set a timer for 30 minutes first, and work for those 30 minutes. Don’t do anything else and just focus. If you have trouble focusing, then try using those suggestions that I listed out earlier! Or try to look forward to your break!
Then, when those 30 minutes are up, you can set a timer for 10 minutes and take a break then. Once your 10 minutes are up, it’s back to work!
I think the 30 minutes of grinding and 10 minutes of chilling is a great balance between the two. 30 minutes of work goes by fast when you’re really into it and the 10 minutes won’t let you procrastinate during your work.
5. Go Work on Something Else
Sometimes, we’re just too burned out doing one task. Especially when writing, I know oftentimes I will just have absolutely no idea what to write or say. It sucks and makes me feel useless, but don’t fret! What I like to do is just put my work aside for a bit and do something else. Do something productive that will get you moving, because the last thing you want to do is get lazy again. I like to go on a bike ride when I’m not having any good ideas, or write something else. But you can do anything more or less, just as long as it takes your mind off of things and doesn’t lead to you lazing about. Find something to do! Play the piano. Read a book. Watch a YouTube video. Make yourself a quick snack. It doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking per se.
Then, when you’re ready to come back to your work, you might have some fresh ideas! Whenever I get my mind off of work, sometimes I’ll have a eureka moment and come up with a great idea for my work. That usually gives me a massive boost in motivation!
In the end, there are many ways to keep yourself motivated to work/write at home. But these are some suggestions that I have tried in the past that have worked for me. I hope it works for you, but everybody is different, so don’t be afraid to try new ways to keep yourself in that grind mindset. Feel free to leave comments below on what kinds of strategies YOU used to keep yourself busy!