Freelance Survival: How To Get Motivated After Taking Time Off

Tell me if this sounds familiar: (On Thursday) “Oh my god I can’t wait until the long weekend!!!!!” (On Tuesday) “Oh my god, I am so not motivated to do any of this work.”

Vacation hangover. I need a vacation from my vacation. Whatever you call it, it’s an issue for every freelancer on the planet.

Working for yourself takes mountains of motivation. Gobs of personal drive, and huge piles of determination. It’s not easy to get up and start your day early, when absolutely no one would yell at you for sleeping until noon. It’s tempting to put that to-do list off for another day when you’re still posting pictures of your beach vacation on Facebook.

If you’re coming off the long weekend and feeling like you’d rather work on your tan than your inbox, here are some motivational tips to keep in mind:

1. Leave No Loose Ends

Feeling good about returning to work starts by feeling good about how you left it. Take the time to alert your clients to your vacation time well in advance, if possible. Stop taking on new work at least a week before you’ll be away, so that you can have peace of mind that everything is well in hand before you leave.

2. Ease Into It

Plan a transition day into your vacation schedule. If you’re going away for 7 days, tell your clients that you’re leaving for eight. Take that half or quarter day as a time to slowly check emails or prioritizing your to-do list for the week ahead. Knowing that you don’t have to jump back in to your work with both feet can help reduce stress and resentment about the responsibilities ahead.

3.  Prioritize

For me, it’s the emails that make me most reluctant to return to work. After not opening my computer for two or three days, I know there will be a pile of messages to sift through. The sheer (often imagined) number, is daunting and scares me into procrastination.

Conquer the fear by setting small manageable goals for yourself: I will go through my inbox deleting spam and Twitter alerts, and filing the rest of the emails into their appropriate folders. After you’ve recovered from that task, pick one folder, and start answering the emails. You can do the same thing with any kind of task, just pick the smallest most non-threatening chunk, and go for it.

What advice can you give other freelancers about finding your mojo after taking time off? Share your ideas in a comment!


Image Credit: Flickr – joelK75

Do you <3 your job?

I luh-huv my job.  If you can even call it that.  I still can’t believe that I’m allowed to hang around awesome coworking people, answer the occasional question, give tours, dink around on social media and make coffee in the morning as my job description.  I am waiting for a swat force to crash through the skylight, rappel down and arrest me.  My crime: loving my job.

For years, I confused “being good at my job” with “loving my job so much that I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant (channeling Tracey Jordan).”  My previous jobs have been painfully simple.  Show up, complete some boring checklist, talk people off emotional ledges, dork around for the remaining 6 hours, go home and repeat.  I did this for 8 years!  8 years! 8 years!  Those are years I’ll never get back.

Here are some warning signs that you might be just good at your job but not loving it.

1. You can get 8 hours of work done in about 90 minutes and still achieve an Oustanding on your performance review while spending the other 6.5 hours surfing the web, chatting with your coworkers and taking long lunches.  My former bosses are probably pooping themselves right now.

2. You complain about your job–A LOT.  Complaining is a symptom of desperation, sadness, depression, longing and dissatisfaction.  There are a small percentage of people who just get off on complaining.  If you’re doing it, there’s a good reason.

3. Your boss asks you to stop innovating because the company can’t keep up with all of your ideas.  Dysfunctional company aside, run for your life!

4. Every morning when your alarm clock goes off you get any one of the following symptoms: a stomach ache, vomiting, headache, tears, nashing of teeth, exhaustion, fury, a bad attitude, swearing, nausea.  Either you’re pregnant or you secretly hate your job.  Move on OR go buy a pregnancy test.

5. Work feels like work.  Run, Forrest, run.

I used to hear this all the time, “if you love your job you’ll never work another day in your life.”  I wouldn’t go that far but the mundane tasks like paying the bills, cleaning the urinal and fixing typos on stuff become much more bearable when you get to do those things around people you love in a space that makes you feel awesome.

Please, don’t learn to love your existing job.  Take a breath, take a leap and change your life.  Do you love your job and why?

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