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How do you motivate yourself to avoid burnout?

Running a home-based design business is stressful work. It takes motivation and dedication to avoid burnout. But what do you do when that motivation and dedication is waning?

As a solopreneur, you are probably a very busy person. You’re either spending a good amount of your time trying to get new clients or spending it trying to please the clients you have. Probably a bit of both. But doing it all by yourself can take a lot out of you. Having a team to pick up some of the slack can help, but not for everything.

Face it. You embrace the freelance lifestyle because you want to be your own boss, to make your own rules and do things your way. That’s one of the best things about being a home-based designer. You’re in charge, and you get to decide how things work. But being in charge and doing everything yourself can become overbearing at times. Especially when your business is busy, and you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. 

I want to share 8 Tips with you to help you avoid burnout and motivate yourself to keep going, even when things get tough. Please listen to this podcast episode. In it, I dive deeper into each of the following tips more than I do in this article.

1) Find Inspiration.

Without inspiration, your creativity will stagnate and fizzle out. Look for things around you that will rejuvenate your creative juices. 

Make time to do things that get you excited. Visit a museum. Try a new recipe. Take a course and learn something new. Talk to a coach or mentor if you have one. Watch or listen to YouTube videos, Podcasts or TED Talks that motivate you.

Whatever source of motivation you choose, make the time for yourself and do something that energises and excites you and helps you move forward reinvigorated.

2) Relax and Recharge.

If you are a “go, go, go” kind of person, you need to learn to slow down and take some time to relax every once and a while. 

Take a few hours, or better yet a day or more and forget about your business, your clients and ongoing design projects. They'll still be there when you get back, ready for you to pick up where you left off.

Turn off your computer and your phone. Disconnect from your email and social media and all the other anchors tying you to your business and do something calming. Read a book, take a walk, spend time with friends and family, anything to take your mind off work, even if it's just for a little while.

If you don’t take regular breaks to relax and recharge, you’ll end up hitting a wall and feeling crushed by the weight of everything on your shoulders. You need some “Me Time” to avoid burnout.

Separate yourself from the stress of your business and take the time to enjoy the life you are working so hard to have.

3) Appreciate your accomplishments.

Sometimes, when you are working for yourself trying to get by day by day, it’s easy to forget everything you’ve done to get to where you are. Take some time to appreciate everything you’ve accomplished in reaching where you are and feel gratitude for those who have helped you get here.

Appreciating applies to both the big and the small. Think about everything you’ve done since you began your journey as a designer. What and who motivated and helped get to where you are today. But also think about the little things that have happened recently to help you get to here and now. Such as the small tasks and to-dos that you’ve checked off in the last few days. All of it plays a part in how you ended up where you are right now and deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated.

4) Look at the big picture.

Take a few minutes to review the goals you set out for yourself and your business. Examine and reassess what is still important and what isn’t. Are your goals still relevant? If you want to change your trajectory, now’s the time to adjust your goals accordingly. 

Revisiting your goals will help you focus on what is essential for yourself and your business and allow you to realign yourself for better future success.

5) Stop doing everything.

One of the problems with being a solopreneur is the overwhelming feeling that you need to please everyone and need to do everything. Learn how to say no. Especially if what you are being asked to do doesn’t align with the goals you set out for your business.

You can’t do a good job when you are trying to do everything, so stop spreading yourself too thin and learn to become selective of which projects and clients you take on.

6) Audit your client ROI.

Before you get to the point of feeling unmotivated and are on the cusp of burning out you should run an ROI (Return On Investment) audit on your business and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit with your goals.

Examine which clients and which projects are the ones you enjoy the most and are bringing in the most money. Spend your energy focusing on them.

For the clients and projects you don’t enjoy or are giving you the least ROI on your time, try raising your prices to bring them in line and make them worth your time, or let them go altogether.

Losing motivation and feeling burnout happens most often when you are forced to work on projects you don’t enjoy and those that bring in very little return for your time.

7) Identify and eliminate bad habits.

Bad habits can often lead to feeling overwhelmed and burnout. 

Are you checking your email or phone too often? Do you get distracted by every notification you receive? Are you repeatedly hitting the snooze button in the morning to avoid starting work? Are you eating unhealthy foods that make you feel tired and sluggish?

These bad habits and more can lead to a lack of motivation. Identifying them and working to eliminate them can help you avoid burnout. Doing so will help keep you motivated and productive.

8) Get out of your comfort zone.

Try doing something different for a change. If you have a laptop, try working from a different location for a change. Either within your home or go someplace else entirely. If you usually work 9-5 try changing your schedule and work 11-7 or 1-9 for a few days and see what happens.

Different people have different times of the day when they feel the most productive. Some thrive on mornings, other’s peak in the afternoon and some people are most alert at night. Figure out when your most productive time of the day is and schedule your most important work during that time. A change of scenery or a change to your schedule can make a world of difference and completely change your outlook on things. 

Getting out of your comfort zone stimulates your mind and causes your brain to reassess your surroundings. Those extra mental juices will help channel inspiration and make you think more creatively.

You can avoid burnout.

Running a home-based design business is stressful work. It takes motivation and dedication to avoid burnout. Knowing what to look out for is the first step in your success. These 8 tips will help you stay focused, keep your creative juices flowing and allow you to be a more productive designer and entrepreneur.

What do you to stay motivated and avoid burnout?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Amy

I listened to your Spring Cleaning podcast which was helpful, as usual. I have this question for you. After eliminating all the unneeded data from my hard drive, do I need to run some sort of program to defragment (as in the old days) or something else? Or is it simply good-to-go after emptying the trash? And if I do, how do I do that?

To find out what I told Amy you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week 4-Week Marketing Boost

The Four Week Marketing Boost! is a free guide I created that will help you strengthen your marketing position, boost your brand’s awareness & social presence and ultimately ensure you are in tip-top shape to offer a best first impression to potential new clients.

This guide is divided into 20 short actions that comfortably fit into your regular day and are designed to take as little time away from your client work as possible. Although you can complete these exercises quickly, it is recommended you tackle only one per day, spending no more than 30 minutes per task. After completing this four-week plan you will be in a better position to present yourself to, and win over new clients.

You can download the Four Week Marketing Boost for free by visiting marketingboost.net. Or, if you are in the U.S.A., you can text the word MARKETINGBOOST to 44222.

Improve your business' image and create the best first impression possible to attract more clients.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com