By Sam Best
So you’ve taken the plunge and chucked your 9-5 to strike out alone. But being self-employed isn’t all sunshine and clouds; it also means tax returns, loneliness and dealing with a total lack of motivation. Sure, we all have days where staying under the duvet would be preferable, but when there’s no boss to push you into work there’s a real danger you’ll end up eating mozzarella sticks and re-watching your Homeland box-set when you should be at your desk. So, speaking as someone who regularly has to explain to the postman why he’s home in the afternoon, here are my top tips on staying motivated when self employed.
Set yourself working hours
My girlfriend works in an office so I try my best to mirror her working hours. As soon as she leaves the house I ‘clock in’ and work from 8-5 with a break in the middle for lunch. Keeping a regular routine like this helps remind me that my days really are meant for working, not skiving, and as I deal with a lot of people who work 9-5 I know my emails will get a sharper reply than if they were sent at midnight.
Work as far away from your bathroom as possible
Day to day, this will be a bit of a pain, I know, but even a short walk down the hall can do wonders to avoid cramp and give you a bit of space away from your monitor. There’s nothing worse than finishing your day to find your knees have frozen and you’re developing a hump from that crappy Argos chair. Plus, the walk is a great way to combat all those biscuits you’ll be scoffing.
Work as close to your kitchen as possible
A wee jaunt to the bathroom is fine because there’s no distraction there, but the kitchen is like Disneyland when you’re self employed. The chilled joys of the fridge! Seeing what’s at the back of the cupboards! Rearranging your collection of teas! On the plus side, you’ll find that doing the dishes suddenly looks a lot more attractive, but if you’re aiming to actually get anything done you need to minimise your time spent in this dangerous room. Put the kettle on, brew your coffee and get out.
Never work in your pyjamas
Tell someone you’re self employed and you’re bound to hear this wee jibe: “I wish I could spend my days eating pizza and working in my pjs.” Aye, me too, but I don’t because I’m a professional. If you want people to take you seriously, get dressed. I’m not saying wear a suit, but do all of us self-employeds a favour and help break this stereotype by pulling on a pair of jeans. Not only will you look a lot better (let’s be honest here) but you’ll feel ready to work as well.
Remember you’re the boss
Every minute you spend working is another penny in your own pocket. Now that you’re self-employed you’re done with the days of slaving away to help someone else pay their bills, and you’re the one who has the power make yourself rich or poor. Remembering that the harder you work, the more you directly benefit is a great motivator but equally so, there’s nothing quite like the knowledge that you’ll find yourself homeless if you don’t finish that spreadsheet to keep you going..
Reap the rewards
It can be lonely working from home, I’ll be the first to admit. I love it when the postman comes and I even had a chat with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door once (I said I’d read their book if they read mine). But remember there’s a world out there and it’s a world that celebrates success. I spent my first 6 months after graduating university lying on the floor, drinking coffee and writing a novel. Now, three years later, that novel has been signed to a publishing house and it comes out next month. Knowing that all my hard work over those months really, actually meant something taught me to push myself and I’ve now worked for a wide variety of clients and I’m earning money from writing.