By Jo Barrett-Lennard
After a month off sick, numerous trips to the doctor's office, and a stint in the hospital, I found myself at home and ready to get back to work.
I went through the motions. Got my desk ready, papers in order even got as far as checking and disposing of endless emails. I purchased new pens and notebooks. Organized a play-date for my daughter, stocked up on coffee, and flicked on the answering machine.
And then … Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
There was absolutely no motivation to work.
But work has to be done. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Simple.
So where do find the motivation, when inspiration doesn't strike? What happens when you are so foggy and disillusioned about work that you begin to feel overwhelmed and ridiculously guilty? When you will yourself to get going, but the drive isn’t there?
After a few days of trial and error, different strategies, and a mammoth amount of procrastination – here's how I found some motivation to get back to work.
1. Get a pre-start routine.
Make the coffee, get into comfy clothing, tie the hair back, light the scented candle – whatever the routine is that helps you get into the zone.
2. Set a timeline for your day.
Plan your day, break it down hour by hour. Schedule in breaks. When you have to pick the kids up. When a load of washing needs to go in. For example:
9:00-9:10 – Make coffee, tidy desk
9:10-10:00 – Write article for The Work at Home Woman
10:00-10:20 – Check email, Facebook
10:20-11:10 – Work on project A
11:10-11:15 – Break, stretch
11:15-12:00 – Work on task #1
12:00-12:40 – Lunch, load of washing, plan dinner
12:40-1:30 – Work on project B
1:30-2:30 – Write article for other publication
2:30-8:00 – Pick up kids, make dinner, family time, bedtime routine
8:00-9:30 – Work on task #2
Sticking to a precise timeline like this takes discipline, and it doesn’t always go according to plan. A few days of scheduling your time will assist in getting back into the routine of working, especially after a longer than usual break. For a less extreme time structure, try the kitchen timer method of setting a timer for a small amount of time, say 10 minutes, and work on one thing only until the timer goes off. Not a new idea, but definitely worth giving a shot.
3. Think about the consequences.
What will happen if you write the article? What will happen if you don’t? Is the guilt of not doing whatever it is you have to do worth it? What about the email from the boss asking where x is?
4. Rethink your reward system.
I used to attempt to work, then use social networking sites (read: Facebook) as my reward. But I would find halfway through whatever I was doing I would bail on my project and head there anyway. So now I get my fix first, then get to work. I find I spend half as much time on there as I was. Working from home can be isolating – sometimes checking up on the latest gossip it is the only interaction with the outside world I get that day.
5. Get together with like-minded people.
Get in touch and physically meet up with others who work from home. Organize a time where you can all get-together and work on whatever project is in the pipeline at the moment. Working like this maybe once a month can kickstart your motivation and stoke the I-love-what-I-do fire!
6. Just do something.
Write the opening line of a proposal, reply to an email, vacuum the floor of your office if you must. But just do something related to work. I have a wonderful friend with whom I am in a business mastermind group with. I caught up with her a few days after supposedly getting back into the swing of things. Just seeing her and what she had achieved in the last four weeks was enough to start my engine.
I followed up my discussion with my business mastermind group member by reading, The 8th Habit by Stephen Covey – and one motivational chord that was struck for me was “to consider what truly moves you, and to do this try one of the following:
- Imagine you have had a heart attack – now live accordingly
- Imagine your career has a half-life of only two years – now live accordingly
- Imagine you have a visit from the Almighty every three months – now live accordingly.”
The third point hit me like a ton of bricks. Just thinking about having a visit from my personal Higher Power (for some it could be God, Him, the Universe, Spirit Guide, etc.) was enough to get me going.
And then within the space of an hour, I had churned out two articles for various publications, drafted an outline for a Personal Image workshop and plowed through the pile of papers on my desk.
Now, if you will excuse me, I am firing on all cylinders and only have 40 minutes before I have to pick up my daughter from school. I have suddenly found inspiration, motivation and have reignited the passion!
Jo Barrett-Lennard has been a Work-at-Home mum (she’s Australian!) for just over three years. After working as an Image Consultant and Stylist for just over two years, she is also branching out into business branding and what that means for women working from home. A passion of hers is writing and is published in various online and print publications in Western Australia. Jo juggles being a single parent to her four-year-old daughter Grace and her cat Fish with writing her novel.
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