Thursday, November 5, 2009

Motivation is the mother of invention...

Unfortunately, sometimes, I'm the deadbeat daughter when it comes to this discipline.

Now I know I'm driven. I'm ambitious. But sometimes it's easy to let motivation fall through the cracks, especially when you're making your own hours like I am.

Take this damn computer. Please.

As a writer, I'm on this thing probably eight to ten hours a day. When I'm writing I'm in the zone, and can sit here literally for hours on end without even paying attention to anything or anyone else else around me. Other times, I'm checking emails, reading online news reports, or Facebooking... when I really should be producing some enlightening prose, combing freelance sites or making contacts.

Working from home has made me less motivated in this house I call my office. I used to be pretty OCD and still (proudly) consider myself a bit anal-retentive. However, I think I've overcome that as I look at my "office desk", otherwise known as my kitchen table when the kids are home. Looking around, I see a pile of unread mail, a grocery list, two freelance books, a huge file folder marked "To Read", a flurry of Post-It notes bearing cryptic phrases that apparently should trigger something important I have to do, a bottle of water from two days ago, some dying flowers and a Popsicle stick. Yep, I think I'm over that OCD.

Not being a slave to a schedule has reduced my motivation to give myself "set" working hours. I still haven't gotten the hang of combining working for myself, single parenting and household labor into a well-oiled machine. My plan - in a perfect world - would be to get up early (earlier than the current 5:45 am), work out, get the kids off to school, work, do a little household stuff, help kids with homework, make dinner, spend time with kids before bedtime, then more work. But somehow if my motivation isn't there for any one of those daily items, my whole day is thrown off.

For instance, there's a 2-1/2 hour window between the time my oldest and my youngest leave for school (ridiculous, I know). Sometimes I'll work during that window, skipping the workout. But if I workout later in the morning, that means a shower around noon. With my son getting out of school at 2:00 (again, ridiculous), my day gets cut short, so I try to squeeze in more work later in the day, which makes dinner nearly non-existent in our house. And though sometimes I can get motivated to work after they go to bed, other times my brain just hurts too much and the couch begs for some serious alone time with me.

Motivation is critical when you don't have anyone telling you what to do. The more I think about it, I wonder if there's a market out there as a "virtual boss" - someone whose job it is to keep all you freelancers and work-at-homers on task. Perhaps that's the only way to make ME accountable for my own time.

I need something... as I sit here at 8:00 at night - in my workout clothes - with SpongeBob SquarePants blaring in the background, because my kids are eating grilled cheese on the trays in front of the TV... again.

Sigh. I guess in the immortal words of Zig Ziglar, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.”

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