Building a business requires doing a of less-than-thrilling tasks, day after day. You need to work whether you’re inspired or not.
No matter what kind of work you do, you’ll always have days you don’t feel motivated. Running a business is exciting and challenging, but also boring and mundane sometimes. It’s human nature to get distracted, frustrated and disappointed now and then. The key is knowing how to get back on track so your business doesn’t suffer.
Your professional success and personal happiness both depend on staying motivated. Here are a few ways to give yourself a boost when you start to get bogged down.
1. Make a schedule.
Not reporting to an office every day or punching a clock can be an amazing thing. It also can pose a tremendous challenge. You can wake up when you want, take breaks when you want, eat when you want and stop working when you want. With so much autonomy, it’s important to discipline yourself by setting a daily schedule.
The thought of sleeping in or taking a two-hour lunch every day might be tempting, but neither will help your business. Set an alarm so you’ll wake up at the same time every morning — and start early. Studies show people who are proactive in the morning are more apt to be successful long term. Determine your standard lunch break and your typical end of day. You might not be able to follow precisely the same schedule every day — things do come up, and some will need your immediate attention. Still, working on a schedule can help keep you on track and productive.
2. Take breaks throughout the day.
Design your daily schedule with short breaks in mind. Limit each to 10 or 20 minutes, or you risk getting swept into a sucking hole of unproductivity. These breaks are particularly helpful if you’re struggling with a problem. Take a step back, focus on something else, and come back with fresh eyes. Consider taking a quick walk outside or engaging in some other form of activity. Get a glass of water, meditate or surf social media to shift your mindset.
If you find yourself constantly being distracted during your work hours, consider devoting your break time to whatever activity is occupying your mind. Just make sure to schedule those breaks so you know when they start and end.
3. Consider the alternative.
What did you do before you decided to start a business? What do your friends and family do? Chances are, at least some of them report to a cubicle every day and work the same 9-to-5 job all year round, with only two weeks of vacation in the mix. While being an entrepreneur definitely isn’t easy, it’s not boring, either. You can make your own schedule and set your own goals without a boss breathing down your neck. You probably don’t have a very long commute, and you certainly don’t have to dress up every day (unless you want to).
Still not convinced? Visit one of your friends at work and spend a little time in the square box she or he calls an office. My guess is you’ll be running back to your business with a new sense of appreciation for the lifestyle it makes possible.
4. Take advantage of flexibility.
Nowhere is it written that you have to stare at a computer screen in your own home or workspace every day. Try changing it up: Work from a coffee house one day, a library the next and a park the day after that. Changing your scenery will keep you on your toes and might even pique your creativity.
Once you’ve established good habits with your standard schedule, you’ll see it’s OK to deviate from the norm every once in a while. Take a longer lunch break and meet a friend at a fun restaurant. Break early one day to catch a drink with friends. Or go out late one night and give yourself permission to sleep in the next day. These all are perks you can enjoy as an entrepreneur. Realize what a gift that is and exercise that flexibility in moderation, of course. In the long term, it’s only going to help your productivity.
5. Think about the future.
You set goals when you first started your business, and you know you must continue to adapt those objectives as time goes on. If you feel yourself procrastinating or getting distracted, ask yourself how meeting those goals will affect your future. Where do you want your business to be in six months, a year, or five years? How will your daily work help you achieve your ambitions? And how much better will your personal and professional life be once you reach each milestone?