I’m sure many small businesses can relate to having quiet periods at work. Having worked on Hello Marilu for over 3 years now, I can definitely recognise when those quiet times will be (for me it's the first few months of the year). It’s useful to be aware of this as you can start to use this quiet time really productively instead of worrying about when your next order is going to come in.
I personally find I work better under pressure and when things are busy I am non-stop with productivity. During the quiet times however I can often find my motivation waning a little and sometimes it feels hard to get back into the flow of it all. Inevitably when it does get busy again I am always kicking myself that I didn't put these quieter moments to good use!
This year I am taking a slightly different approach to try not to let my de-motivation get the better of me. So I’m turning off Netflix and I am doing these 5 helpful things instead.
The run up to Christmas is my busiest time of year and I'm always working around the clock, often feeling like I am at breaking point. It means certain things which I would like to do more of (like Instagram for example!) just go out the window. I feel like I am really learning from this mistake and hopefully by spending some more time planning for the year ahead and getting a headstart on those things, it will make the busy times a little more manageable. I’m thinking about products (yes Christmas baubles already!), creating mood boards (which always sparks excitement!), planning content for my blog, newsletter and Instagram. Thinking ahead really does make you feel more motivated as you really start to get excited about all the things that you can do.
My photography mood board which has helped me plan for my new website. Images from top left; Made.com (top left, right, central & bottom left), Melanie Johnson (shoes, hands, globe), Hello Marilu, Lilian Farang, Jode Pankhurst, Made.com, Annie Dornan Smith.
2. Talking it through
I really find it helps to talk to someone about work, especially someone who perhaps works in a similar industry as you, or is self-employed. If you are lucky enough to have employees then it's great to sit down and talk through ideas and goals on regular occasions. It makes it more real and holds you more accountable to actually doing the things you have been talking about. If you don't have a colleague to talk to though then friends and family can be a great support network, and journaling can be a great way to firm up your goals, particularly if you read back on it after a few weeks to see what progress you have made.
3. Getting out and about
To feel motivated it really helps to feel inspired. Getting out and about whether it's a walk in the park, visiting a gallery or taking part in a workshop, can really get your creative juices flowing and make you feel invigorated. There’s nothing worse then sitting at your desk feeling uninspired, so get out and do something fun, especially while you have time to!
4. Look to others
Sometimes we all need a little bit of help to feel motivated. You're just one person after all, and unless you have a team to bounce off, working for yourself can sometimes be a little isolating. I find it really encouraging to get inspiration and motivation from other sources, whether that's a course, a book, or motivational podcast. If you can afford it then even seeing a life coach could really help. Some of the podcasts I listen to include The Mind Your Business Podcast, and The One Girl Band Podcast, and I've recently started reading Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself by Dr Joe Dispenza.
5. Be proactive
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the planning point. Once you have an idea about what could help you through your busiest times then just do it. Whether that's doing a stock take, stockpiling your most popular products or ordering supplies, using the quiet time to do these things will take a huge pressure off you in the busy times. I personally think that feeling unmotivated is usually down to a lack of clarity about what you need to do or feeling like you don't have anything that you need to do now. So write up an achievable to-do list and get cracking. It's so satisfying when you can start ticking things off your list and give yourself a massive pat on the back for being so organised! I’m planning to stockpile a lot of baubles in advance of Christmas as I know that is by far my busiest season, and I really hope it will help to ease the pressure for me.
But most importantly, be kind to yourself
It's ok to have days where you just don't feel motivated. Motivation is a feeling and it comes and goes. If you are really not feeling it and you don't have a major deadline to work on, then it's ok to sometimes just take a step back from it all. We are not machines, sometimes we just need a break from work to feel excited by it again. Don't be too hard on yourself if you just don't feel it sometimes - it happens to us all!
I really hope these tips will help to motivate you in some way too. If you have any other suggestions about how you stay motivated then I would love to hear them! Why not add them to the comments below.