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14 Motivation Tips for Working When You Don’t Want To

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More and more people are working for themselves as freelancers and entrepreneurs, running their own small businesses. Most enjoy working for themselves much more than they liked working for someone else.

It is wonderful to enjoy working for yourself. Just because we enjoy it, though, doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to do it. Self-employed people can have trouble motivating themselves to work just like anyone else. It actually can even be a bit harder to motivate yourself to work when you’re self employed because the only person who can make you work is you.

Money, of course, is usually the main motivator to work. Sometimes, though, money is not enough. You may need more to motivate you. Here are 14 motivation tips freelancers and entrepreneurs can use to get yourself to work when you just don’t want to.

14 Motivation Tips
for Working When
You Just Don’t Want To

Motivation tips with a cup of coffee that says go get 'em, a notebook and a plant

1. Love your job

One of the best ways to motivate yourself to work is to love your job.

Before you start freelancing or before you create your own business, be sure it’s something you’re going to love doing. Whether you’re working at a side gig or a full-time job, enjoying what you do is critical to motivating yourself to do it.

If you end up heading in the wrong direction and not enjoying the work you’re doing, get yourself on the right track as soon as possible. There are so many ways you can earn money working for yourself, there’s no need to do something you don’t enjoy.

Related reading: Learn 12 different freelance jobs with Work at Home School

2. Work when you want

One of the many great things about working for yourself is being able to work when it’s best for you.

If you’re an early bird, there’s no shame in sitting down in front of your computer at 5:00 in the morning. Likewise, if you’re a night owl, there’s no reason why you can’t be hard at work at midnight.

Work when you want, and you’ll definitely find it easier to work than trying to adhere to a traditional work schedule.

3. Work where you want

Another really wonderful part of working for yourself is the ability to work where you want.

If you get tired of sitting at your desk, there’s no good reason you can’t take your work outside on your balcony, onto your comfortable living room sofa or even to a coffee shop or bookstore.

Working for yourself also gives you the freedom to travel and work. There are lots of traveling freelancers and digital nomads, including myself, who do this. You can find lots of advice on the internet about how to work and travel, including my tips for traveling female freelancers.

4. Dress for success

When you work for yourself from home – especially if you’re new at it – it can be tempting to wear pajamas all day long. Some people do this, but it’s not really a good idea.

I personally feel much more motivated to work when I wear clothes at home that I could wear in an office. You don’t have to dress up to the point that you’re uncomfortable. Just wear something when you work at home that you don’t wear around the house or wear to bed.

What you wear can really affect your frame of mind. Dress in sort of a comfortable casual business style, and it will be easier to be in a work mindset when you’re working at home.

Woman happy she has motivation tips, chin resting on her hand in front of her laptop

5. Write down daily goals

It is always good to have goals, both long term and short term. Goals can be one of the best motivation tips.

In addition to your long term goals, set daily goals. Write them down. Keep them where you can see them. If your motivation begins waning, you can just look at your list of goals and get back on track for the day.

6. Do as many enjoyable tasks as possible each day

Our motivation to do things we like to do is much greater than our motivation to do things we dislike.

Hopefully, you like everything about your work and enjoy every minute of it. If you don’t, though, make sure to spend some time every day doing a task you do enjoy. That one task can get you in the right frame of mind to work. Then you’ll find it easier to keep going once you get started.

7. Think positive thoughts

Positive thoughts may be hard to come by sometimes, but they are very important for our motivation, not to mention our overall mental health.

If your mind is filled with negative thoughts – about your work, yourself, your abilities, etc. – it can be pretty hard to motivate yourself to do anything.

Spend several minutes writing down positive thoughts every day, at least once a day. You can actually create new neural pathways in your brain by doing this, literally rewiring your brain to naturally think more positively. Writing down positive thoughts every day is one of the best motivation tips you’ll find. Positive thoughts will make you feel more motivated, both immediately afterwards and in the long run.

8. Clear your mind

If your mind is clogged with negativity, stress, problems, etc., it can be hard to set it all aside to sit down and work.

Give yourself a little time to clear your mind. Go outside and get some fresh air. Do some housework for 10 or 15 minutes. Meditate. If there’s something that’s bothering you, take steps to fix that problem so it will be in the past and you can move forward.

Clearing your mind will give you the ability to think better, focus better on your work and end up enjoying your work more.

Smiling man working at a desk with two computers

9. Work in small chunks of time

Working for long periods of time without stopping can become pretty draining and demotivating. It can also cause stress to build up, cause our minds to start wandering, and lead to burnout.

Work no more than 50-60 minutes at a time, then take a break for 10 minutes or so. Even if you just stop to make a cup of tea and bring it back to your desk, that small bit of time will help refresh your mind.

Getting into the habit of working in small chunks of time will keep you in a good frame of mind. This will in turn help you be more motivated to work.

10. Sleep well

The quality of your sleep makes all the difference in the world in how well you can function. If you’re poorly rested, you’re probably not going to feel too motivated to get your work done. If you have trouble sleeping, take steps to fix that right away.

Before you go to bed, get off your devices and completely relax or meditate for a while. Take a melatonin supplement. The blue light that screens emit can interrupt your natural circadian rhythm and mess up your sleep. Adjust your display settings to night shift or night light mode and this will filter out the blue at night. You may sleep better after you do that. Make getting good sleep a priority in your life.

11. Don’t work in bed

One important part of getting a good night’s sleep is avoiding working in bed. While it’s good to have the freedom to work where you want, bed is the one place you really shouldn’t work. Working in bed can not only make it more difficult to sleep, it can hinder your motivation as well.

It can be tempting to work in bed because it’s so comfortable. Bed is not a very good place to get work done, though. Sleep experts say you should actually never work in bed. Doing so can cause you to associate your work with your sleep rather than keeping them completely separate.

Keep your work out of your bed, and you’ll be more motivated to work when you yourself are out of bed and at your desk.

12. Create a good work space

Not everyone has an entire room they can designate as a home office. You can still create a dedicated work space for yourself, though, even if it’s not a whole room.

A corner of your living room or even your bedroom can make a good work space. Make it as comfortable, pleasant and quiet as possible. If you’re distracted by noise, wear noise canceling headphones. Having a place just for your work, no matter how small, can really help get you in the right mindset.

13. Think about the competition

Whatever line of work you’re in, there are likely many other freelancers and entrepreneurs doing the same type of work. So you’ve got competition. You definitely need to not only do your work but do it well in order to make your freelance clients happy and get repeat business.

Keep in mind the fact that there are plenty of competitors out there who would love to do the work you’re doing. This can really motivate you to sit down and work when you don’t feel like it.

14. Have an accountability buddy

Find a like-minded person who can be your accountability buddy. You can check in with each other every day or every week – or as often as you like – to help each other keep on track.

If you’re having trouble motivating yourself one day – or every day – let your accountability buddy know. They can remind you what your goals are and why you should keep going.


Working for yourself is increasingly popular. People really love it. Keep these motivation tips in mind so you can get your work done, and you’ll love it even more than other people do.

Want some more motivation? Download my free ebook to get motivated to leave your 9-5 job and start freelancing, right here.

Images by Danielle MacInnes, Candid_Shots, fernandoprado, Kyle Glenn 

Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.

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