How to Stay Productive When You’re Not Motivated

If you’ve been in your business for a long time, it’s normal for you to be burnt-out sometimes. You just suddenly lose all motivation and productivity to move forward with your work

It is a common belief that freelancers and self-employed professionals aren’t prone to having a burnout and cannot lose motivation because they do what they love. Indeed, that idea seems feasible since these people have a flexible schedule and freedom to choose a project or a location to work from.

However, what people believe is opposite to reality. According to the International Journal of Work, Health & Organizations, freelancers and self-employed professionals are as much susceptible to burnout as office employees. Here’s why:

  • Freelancers often face higher workload and relatively lower rewards.
  • The absence of the opportunity to get promoted can also be demotivating.
  • No job security can be a demotivating factor as well.

Working for yourself has a lot of advantages. However, it’s natural for self-employed professionals to experience the loss of motivation, no matter if you’re in accounting or a creative field.

If you by any change are going through the motivation drought, let us help you. Here are some tips on how to stay productive when don’t feel motivated.

  1. Chunk Your Work

When you’re at your lowest, feeling completely demotivated, proper time management is what can save the day. So, start motivating yourself for work by breaking it into chunks.

Willpower is an exhaustible source, so you cannot simply push through your assignments for the day, especially if you’re experiencing lack of motivation. “This is called ego depletion, or the loss of motivation to proceed with an activity”, says Peter Jefferson, an HR manager at The Word Point, an international translation service that developed its support program to help their freelancers deal with the loss of motivation and professional burnout.

Dividing your work into meaningful chunks can help you use willpower wisely and increase your productive time.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Start with the hardest task. Difficult projects are often the source of procrastination. The secret is to just start. Once you complete a small portion of a hard task, you’ll have no choice but to finish it. This is called a Zeigarnik effect, and this is what provokes discomfort or intrusive thoughts when something is unfinished. So starting with the hardest task is both the way to motivate you and to help you push through the most difficult part of work.
  • Break your work into periods. Instead of diluting your work throughout the entire day, divide your time for work into periods of intensive work interspersed with short breaks. This method is used by professional musicians, who practice more deliberately instead of diluting their practice throughout the entire day.
  • Create shorter but tangible deadlines. A deadline is what will hold you accountable for completing your work. Thus, when chunking your work, create an accountability chart. In the left column, you put time, and in the right column, you can put all the tasks you need to complete. This will allow you to realistically evaluate your work, your efforts and to will keep you motivated.

Breaking your work into chunks will help you avoid small, mindless work. You’ll manage your time more effectively and stay motivated.

  1. Outsource Some of Your Work

Freelancers and self-employed professionals have to deal with all sides of running a business by themselves. Therefore, they have a lot of side tasks to perform with very little time. This workload can affect their productivity, resulting in motivation loss.

If you’ve been running your freelance business for a while, you’re probably familiar with this problem. The best way to deal with it is to outsource the tasks, connected to running your business, to other freelancers or self-employed professionals. Namely, you can outsource:

  • Budget planning, finances, and invoices to professional accountants
  • Drafting contracts to lawyers
  • The promotion of your brand to professional brand managers

This is especially useful for freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs, who’re just starting their professional journey. You can get an all-in-one package as well, and not worry about the technical side of things at all.

Running your independent business can be a very daunting and demotivating job. Outsourcing will allow you to concentrate on the tasks without losing time on other business-related issues.

  1. Try Out Time Management Apps

Lastly, why not use technology to your advantage?

Smartphone apps aren’t just created for procrastination and killing time. There’s a bunch of apps that can help you effectively manage time and boost productivity and motivation. Choose those that you like the best (honestly, they all do the job):

  • Forest app, available for both iOs and Android, this app is a timer you can set on your phone. By setting a timer, you plant a tree, and if you touch your phone before the timer goes off, you kill the tree you’ve planted. Behind the time management idea, this app actually helps plant trees across the world. So, you win back your motivation and save the planet.
  • PomoDoneApp works both on your laptop and smartphone and is based on the famous Pomodoro technique. You break your work into 25-minute sessions with five-minute breaks, known as Pomodoros.
  • Toggl, a comprehensive tool for your laptop and smartphone, which allows you to manage your tasks using accountability charts and track your progress throughout the week.


Using technology for your benefit can help you feel more motivated and productive during the day. So browse your app store of choice for well-rated time management apps and see how they can help you.


An Important Thing to Remember

These tips can help freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs bring back motivation and productivity. Nevertheless, these tips aren’t a cure for professional burnout. So, if you experience burnout, consider the help of a professional.

Other than that, these tips work perfectly if you’re going through the motivation and productivity drought. We encourage you to try them and share your experience with us!