One of the wonderful and terrible things about any kind of working at home, whether in your own business or working for someone else, is the lack of supervision. It’s nice having the flexibility to do things without a supervisor wandering by to check on you, but it’s difficult too. It’s not always easy to keep working when no one else is directly holding you accountable.
That’s not to say no one is doing so at all. If you work for someone else, they certainly have expectations of you, whether it’s when you work, how you work or how soon things will get done. If you have a business of your own, you may have clients who expect you to get things done in a timely manner, or customers who expect their products promptly, or you may have others in your family who need you to keep up a certain income level for the good of your family.
But all that isn’t always enough to keep some of us going. It’s all too easy for things to slide just a little bit over time until productivity gets to be a problem. If you aren’t being held sufficiently accountable, this can continue until you lose your job, your clients or a significant chunk of your income. What can you do?
Get an Accountability Partner
One simple thing to do is make yourself accountable to someone. It can be a friend who works at home, your spouse, anyone who you’re willing to talk to about what you’ve gotten done each day or week, whenever it is you agree to check in with each other. Make check ins frequent enough to motivate you, but not so frequent that they interfere with getting work done.
Decide on what counts. This will depend on what exactly you do. It may be working a certain number of hours on your job, getting a certain amount of billable work done, earning a particular amount of money, etc. You decide.
I think it’s ideal if in some ways you’re accountable to each other. It gives you both motivation, rather than having one person always listening to what the other has accomplished. That’s not a requirement, but I would consider it a help.
Set Daily Goals
You can also be accountable to yourself. Set goals for every day as well as times you expect to work. I have a calendar set to remind me at a particular time each day to get to work. This helps keep me from goofing off online for too long, and it feels really good when the reminder goes off and I’m already working. Hah, beat it!
Your daily goals should be things you can reasonably accomplish in a day. Don’t make your goals so difficult you rarely reach them or so easy they don’t challenge you. For myself, I might set a goal of writing five articles in a day (not quick, two paragraph posts, but serious articles which may require research or careful thought), or a particular amount of marketing done.
Review Your Progress, Good and Bad
Most jobs have regular performance reviews. There’s no reason why you can’t do that for yourself.
Take a look every few months at how you’re doing. What are you doing well? What should you do better? What do you need to make it easier to do even better? This is a good time to consider any tools you might need for your work or business, and decide if it’s time to spend money on something.
For example, you might realize that you need to do more keyword research so that your blog posts can rank more easily. You might decide that it’s time to buy Market Samurai to make this easier. You might decide that it’s time to subscribe to a tool to make your social media marketing easier, or time to update some of the software you use regularly in your work.
Come up with a plan to improve your problem areas. This isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary. It might be how you deal with the many distractions inherent to working at home. You might realize that you’re charging too little for your work. Find ways to take action and fix the problems you’ve noticed.
Take Pride in Your Accomplishments
Celebrating the things you’ve accomplished is important too. It’s very motivating. You don’t have to do big things to celebrate, and you don’t only have to celebrate huge accomplishments. Have little goals as well as big ones. Make your rewards appropriate to the accomplishments.
I’ve taken my family to dinner to celebrate certain income goals being reached. It’s fun for all of us, but doesn’t happen so often as to become meaningless. We don’t eat out very often, so this is a special thing, but the cost is far less than the increase being celebrated.
Working at home is hard in many ways. You gain freedom, but you also gain responsibility. If you don’t motivate you, it doesn’t happen. Try some of these ideas to make it easier to stay motivated by being accountable.