Like most people, I am motivated by money. For sure. But, also like most people, I have learned that that can't be all there is. I have quit jobs that paid more money than I am making now because they wore me down instead of built me up. I stopped hosting advertisers on this blog because the money they brought in wasn't worth the pressure I felt to blog and worry about their businesses success in addition to mine. I am most motivated by money when I figure out how to make it. When I can plan, produce, sell and collect.
So I am my own boss. And I have a few tricks I use to stay inspired and motivated while working at home.
To begin with, I eased into it. For awhile, making stuff and blogging was my side job. Then when I needed more time to work at home, I went down to part time at my out of the house job. When we moved to San Diego, Paul and I decided I would try full time at home until Christmas to see if working for myself could make sense for us. I think it was good that I had some practice and didn't fall into the "all my time is free time and therefore I can't get started" trap.
I keep a lot of to-do lists. Monthly, daily, weekly, you name it. I have a loose editorial calendar for what I am going to be posting here. These lists help keep me on track. They include mundane tasks (post office) and aspirational tasks (build headboard).
I take things off my to-do lists frequently. It's one thing to have big ideas and goals. But it's another to keep something on the list you are not accomplishing or even taking steps toward. I have found that continuning to include big projects that I can't get to makes me feel bad about the whole list. They put a damper on the other things I could and should be doing. So without any regret, I cross them off the list. Recent examples : I decided to skip a sewing a new bag that had been on my list for over a month and I completely dropped this "daily art" project.
Maybe someday I'll get to these projects. Maybe I will not. But as a result of clearing the space mentally in my brain and physically on the list, I have opened room for new ideas and feel better about getting through other tasks and projects.
I set deadlines. I set them for my personal projects and I share them, either here on the blog or with Paul. I set them with clients on custom projects by emailing a date that they can expect a proof, the final project, a sample, my next email, etc. I shoot for a reasonable deadline I know I can not only meet but usually beat. Knowing the date that I owe something removes the "someday I'll get to it" aspect and helps me stay on track. (And if it's a personal project that I don't accomplish on time, maybe it's time to forget that project for awhile.)
I change the plan. Sometimes when I don't feel motivated to accomplish something I ask myself what the hold up is. Am I scared it won't sell? Am I bored with the idea? Do I not have enough time? Do I have too much time? What's wrong with the plan? Example : I was having trouble getting photos from our honeymoon scrapbooked. I had planned for months to make a digital album out of them. But when it came down to opening up Photoshop and playing with the photos, I hit a wall. Finally, I asked myself why I couldn't get it together and make the book. And realized that Bora Bora plus the computer didn't mesh or inspire. Just because a digital book was the plan all along didn't make it work. So I switched gears and made a 4x6 paper scrapbook instead. Once I got started, the book came together in less than 24 hours.
I practice the "one-touch rule" as much as possible. When an email pops up, I immediately (or at the next inbox check) delete it, archive it or respond to it. Sometimes I let something sit in my inbox for a day as I try to figure out my response, but 24 hours is it. Junk mail gets recycled in a bin by our mailbox, it doesn't even make it's way to the apartment. Regular mail gets opened and read, filed, answered, displayed, etc. Keeping the clutter low both digitally and in real life helps me feel on top of things, not behind on them.
I break up my days. Sometimes this means taking care of stuff around the house in the middle of a "work-day". It also means most days I work on parts of a few different projects instead of one big project. Sectioning helps me stay interested.
Ultimately though, I love what I do. I am blessed to get to make stuff for a job. I certainly did not always love what I did. But over the past three and a half years, I have made working for myself possible for me. Money, while awesome and necessary, cannot motivate like passion.
Here are some books that I have enjoyed on this path to self-employment & staying motivated :