Five ways to stay motivated when you don’t feel like working

Posted on: August 13th, 2010

We’ve all had days when it’s hard to get motivated. There are often good reasons why you don’t feel like working. Maybe the new client you thought you had in the bag has just told you they’re appointing someone else. Or your long-standing client has halved their budget. Or your main contact has left their job and been replaced by someone who wants to axe their spending on freelancers and bring it all in-house.

Whatever the reason, how do you keep chipper when things are far from rosy? Here are my five tips:

TIP 1:

Every time a client sends me a positive statement or compliment, I cut and paste it into a Word document. These aren’t the testimonials on my website or my LinkedIn profile. These are ‘thank yous’ I receive when I’ve completed a project. Keep your own list and read it next time you lack motivation. It will give you a real lift to know¬† you are actually appreciated by your clients – even if one of them is currently giving you a hard time.

TIP 2:

Forget all about work for an hour or two. Go out and have lunch with a mate or meet up with some friends and spend a fun evening with them.

TIP 3:

Post what’s just happened on a forum you regularly contribute to (without naming names, of course). You’ll be surprised just how many other online friends have experienced the same situation. It may not solve the problem but it will make you realise it’s not just you that this happens to.

TIP 4:

Shut the office door and go and do some exercise. It’s amazing how a good run, swim or work out will help you see things in a more positive light.

TIP 5:

Think about which clients and which kind of projects you’ve enjoyed working on most of all. Make a list for each one. Next think about which clients and projects you couldn’t stand. Make another list for these. Now take a good look at your lists and see if any patterns emerge. Once you understand exactly who and what make freelancing enjoyable (and who and what make it ghastly), you can start to identify who you’d like to work for in the future and the kind of project you’d really enjoy doing. This will also give you a great new business list to go after. And you’ll know who to say ‘no’ to in the future.

What do YOU do when you’re fed up and lack motivation?

10 Responses to “Five ways to stay motivated when you don’t feel like working”

  1. Pawel @ Self Employed Cafe
    August 13th, 2010

    Hey Carole, very good advice. Comes very useful on a sunny Friday morning :)


  2. Tania
    August 13th, 2010

    Hi Carole,

    Very good article and extremly helpful advice, just like Pawel said… you have chosen the best day to post this article ;)

  3. Mike Haydon
    August 13th, 2010

    Great advice Carole. I’m going to implement the client praise file from now on. Unlike Pawel and Tania, it’s a miserable rainy Friday afternoon here in Perth, Australia, so it’s even better timing for me. Thanks.

  4. Freelance FactFile
    August 13th, 2010

    Glad you liked the tips, guys.

    It was rainy here in London earlier but now it’s nice and sunny. I’ve just done Tip 4 this morning: a trip to the gym to do a class. So now I’m all set to finish the web copy I was working on yesterday. :)

  5. Sara Thurston
    August 13th, 2010

    When I’m not motivated, as long as I don’t have a deadline I go with it, putting Tip #2 into practice. That’s the whole reason I went into freelancing to begin with: So I can have control of my calendar. Working in some corporate office (or even an agency), you can’t just up and go shopping, or linger over lunch – and rarely do they smile upon long walks along the river :-)

    But as a freelancer we’re “free” to do just that. Ironically, I spend more time in front of my computer now than I ever did in a corporate office. But I always know that I have the freedom to do whatever I like, should the mood hit.

    I think that’s what helps keep me motivated.

  6. Freelance FactFile
    August 13th, 2010

    I agree, Sara, we freelancers work v. hard. But then, when a nice sunny afternoon comes along and the forecast for the rest of the week is rain, we’re ‘free’ to make the most of it. Being in charge of my own timetable is what it’s all about. My clients don’t care if I take a sunny afternoon off mid week and then catch up at the weekend. All they care about it that I do the work well and meet their deadlines.

  7. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marko Todorovic, Self Employed Cafe. Self Employed Cafe said: Good advice for Friday morning: Five ways to stay motivated when you don't feel like working RT @CaroleSeawert [...]

  8. reeha@inkjet UK
    June 3rd, 2012

    Great tips for motivation however for motivation I read about successful peoples in our society and profession. thanks for these tips. keep on sharing more about that.

  9. Jay
    August 19th, 2015

    Hey there, Susanne! Good to see you. Some sites say it’s possible to get paid up to $200 an hour for some types of witnirg (case studies, sales pages). Those prices are for clients YOU seek out and pitch, so there’s some time involved in landing them. Browse around and you’ll find some info on that. My formula for a full-time freelancer: set your income goal for the year, divide that by 48 (allowing 4 weeks of vacation), then divide by how many days per week you can work and then how many hours per day fit into your life. THEN you know how much per hour you need to earn, and can pursue clients/types of witnirg that will pay you that much. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. [...] Five Ways to Stay Motivated When You Don’t Feel Like Working [...]

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