I have days when I am not motivated enough for seriously productive work. I guess we all have those, even those of us who really love our jobs. I’ve always been a bit like that, it’s just that these days I don’t have someone cracking the whip behind me. I think that is why it is so much more noticeable.
I Googled it. Like you do. All the advice was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to know about people who had days like this and just went with it, did something else, or simply took the day off and let their brain relax. All I got was ‘7 Ways To Motivate Yourself to Work Hard When You’re Not Really In The Mood’. But you cannot force creativity – can you?
Jocelyn K Glei tackles subjects like this regularly. Optimisation and workplace burn out is not an issue she shys away from. This resonates with me. Over the years I have been an unforgiving workaholic and proud of it. Things have changed now. I’ve slowed down a lot, mostly since University. I try to think more about the process of what I do and what I get out of it, rather than the profit I will make at the end of it. I try to put more consideration into the way I do things rather than the recompense. Not all your time has to have a price tag. But that is how I used to think. I couldn’t do anything that didn’t involve the prospect of earning me something.
When you work in an office, the simple act of being there is considered work, whereas the hours spent doing ‘actual’ work is considerably less than the clock in clock out time, in part because of office environment distractions and the simple fact that you can’t work continuously hour after hour day after day.
Research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker
is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes… (Source)
Whilst I chastise myself for this, it isn’t actually true that I’m not doing anything. Not being motivated to make something is not the same as not working. I dip into work every day. I may not be creating garments but administration, working on finances, managing Hootsuite, emails and looking for inspiration and materials and sundries for new garments are the things I do when I’m not making. But it’s still work. I do often forget that which is remiss of me because without the administration and the marketing and the advertising, I may not sell anything at all which makes the manufacture a pointless exercise on its own.
The continuous drip feed of work seven days a week might be part of the problem and it’s a long standing issue with those of us that work from home or own our own businesses. I don’t take the weekend off, or a day off. I fit my personal life and work life together every single day. Half a day might be work, half personal. I might take a day out to go out for the day with friends, but I will invariably end up doing something work related by the end of the day no matter what time I get home.
Holidays aren’t holidays. When I go away it’s never abroad. I keep in touch with work, check emails and my online shop every day even when I’m away. If I’m staying with family I take several boxes of products with me so I can stay open. Over Christmas last year, I sent quite a few items whilst I was away. Every day off is a potential sale lost and that’s the problem with being the only person in a business. When is a holiday actually a holiday? When is a day off actually a day off?
Despite this, I do have a very flexible routine and balance when I need it. If the weather is great and I want to go out hiking in the hills, I can. If I want to stay in and sew all day, I can. I like that freedom from constraint and routine. I like my day to remain unpredictable.
I get a lot more exercise now that I work from home. I make breaks during the day to go out and walk or do a cardio workout. If the weather is really good I take my bike and go out on the canal tow paths. My health both physically and mentally, is considerably better and that has to be a worthy investment all on its own. I’m not the only one who appreciates this kind of balance. And these aspects are as important as how many hours you work because what you end up with is more quality to your hours rather than quantity to your day.