One of the more frequent questions I get asked as someone who works from home full-time is how I stay motivated. As more and more people are being asked to stay away from the office, I wanted to share a few tips that I’ve picked up over the last four years. I hope you find them useful – please add your own in the comments below.
1. Have a routine.
I love the flexibility that freelancing gives me. I’m not always working full-time, so I can do more of the things that make me happy – like horseriding, walking, cooking and yoga. But when I am working, I stick to a fairly strict routine to help me stay productive whilst taking care of my wellbeing.
I start work between 9am and 10am, I have an app on my phone that reminds me to take a five minute break every hour and I have at least half an hour for lunch. Routines are hard to break – so once you get into the swing of it you’ll be at your desk and ready to work without even thinking about it.
2. Give creative block the boot
I attended a ‘Conversations with Nick Cave’ event in 2019 and one of the most common questions he gets from his audience (and that came up on this occasion) was how he deals with a creative block. His answer was along the lines that he didn’t believe in it, never got it and just saw songwriting as his work, for which he showed up every day. This really resonated with me and made me think about how I deal with creative block in my work.
There are definitely times when I feel less inspired to write copy or create campaign strategies, but I do the same as Nick. I see it as work, it has to be done and I just crack on. I accept that it might need some finessing and some sparkle adding the next time I look at it, but I write and research and produce because that’s what I do. If you’re feeling stuck, make whatever start you can – you’ll soon be writing and generating ideas that you can come back to if you need to.
3. Slow down
One of the things I struggled with when I first started working from home full-time was working too hard. Not longer hours or anything like that, but working at 100 miles an hour for the time that I was sat at my desk. Coming from small comms teams in charities with limited resources, I was used to delivering at pace between managing my team and countless meetings. It meant that I always felt physically stressed when I was sat at my desk.
It still sneaks in sometimes and my body lets me know with headaches and heart palpitations. That’s why I have a break reminder app on my phone and why I try to be more mindful about the speed I’m going at when I’m working on something. Taking time to research, digest and ponder is part of the process – don’t feel you have to be producing all day long.
4. Love what you do
OK, so this one isn’t a quick fix. But, for me, it is one of the main reasons I am excited to start work most days, rarely get the Sunday blues and usually can’t wait to get stuck back in after a holiday.
Marc Anthony famously said, ‘Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ While I don’t think that’s entirely true (work is work, after all) I do believe that loving what you do is the key to staying motivated. One of the reasons I set up Colvine Communications was to have the opportunity to work with a whole range of amazing people and organisations that are trying to change the world. I feel lucky every day to have found them.
5. Stay in touch
I’m lucky to have long-term contracts with most of my clients, which means I feel part of a team more than when I work on a standalone project with a new organisation. Staying in touch with the people that inspire you is a huge motivator – whether you want to bounce ideas around or have a quick chat about a challenge you’re facing.
My advice here would be to have conversations wherever possible – I rarely send emails these days, favouring Slack for electronic comms and video or phone calling the rest of the time. We’re social creatures and hunkering down on your own day in day out will take its toll.
What are your tips for staying motivated when you’re working from home?
Claire, Director, Colvine Communications.