Freelancers: How to Stoke Your Motivation and Get Things Done

Working as a freelancer gives you a huge amount of independence and flexibility in your professional life. You can choose your own hours, jettison difficult clients at will, and fit your projects around your family commitments with unparalleled freedom. There is, however, a relatively significant problem that nearly all freelancers will run up against sooner rather than later: staying motivated.

Without a boss looking over your shoulder, and without regular working hours and regular days, it’s easy to be distracted from getting real productive work completed. And if as a freelancer you don’t get things done, the money simply doesn’t land in your bank account.

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When it feels as though the well has run dry, if projects seem to be stalled, and if there’s a nagging awareness at the back of your mind that deadlines are fast approaching, then you need to get back into the groove and start getting more results from your working day. Here are seven proven ways to do just that.

1. Remove Online Distractions

freelancers tips

The web is both a blessing and a curse for the freelancer. On the positive side, the entirety of the world’s knowledge is at your fingertips, and research on any topic is the work of minutes or hours rather than days. The negative side is that a large part of that online knowledge is focused on cute cats and other distractions, and it can seem like there’s always something more urgent or interesting to do than getting down to productive work.

Ease your temptations toward procrastination by removing non-work software from your laptop, or, at least, setting up separate email addresses and social media accounts for professional and personal purposes, so that you can limit the amount of distraction available to you during working hours.

2. Vary Your Projects

freelancers tips

If you’re up against a deadline but just can’t seem to get started, make use of the flexibility that freelancing offers by working for a while on something less urgent and more enjoyable. Always try to have a pressure-free project in reserve that you can dip into when you feel you’re banging your head against a brick wall. This won’t extend the looming deadline, but it’s amazing how just getting started on work — any work — will get your professional juices flowing and make it much less daunting to face the work you’ve been putting off.

3. Set Yourself Small Goals

freelancers tips

One of the biggest demotivators for a freelancer is the intimidating task of getting started on a huge project. A blank screen and the knowledge of the amount of work ahead can make those cute cats on Facebook seem immensely appealing. Combat this inertia by splitting up a difficult project into small, manageable tasks, each of which can be easily accomplished, and reward yourself when each snippet of work has been completed. Delaying your next coffee, for example, until you’ve achieved something tangible can be a powerful spur to action.

4. Dream Big, Work Small

freelancers tips

This might be a phrase straight out of the pages of the motivational cliche manual, but it holds a strong element of truth. While you should never limit your dreams of ultimate success and achievement, neither should you let these dreams get in the way of accomplishing the seemingly insignificant but necessary tasks along the way. To use another well-worn phrase: from little acorns, mighty oaks grow.

5. Focus on Your Work Boundaries

freelancers tips

If you don’t put strong boundaries in place between your working and private lives, both will suffer. Try to set up a place in your home which you can dedicate to your work, so that when you’re there your mindset will be professional, productive, and not as prone to procrastination. Similarly, many people find that even though working from home in a jogging suit might be comfortable, it’s easier to put yourself into a productive frame of mind by dressing more formally for work.

6. Recognize the Danger of Isolation

freelancers tips

Working for yourself often leads to a loss of human contact, and for most people this can result in inertia and a lack of motivation. When you have no co-workers to provide informal support throughout the day, perspective can become a casualty, quickly followed by energy and productivity. Try to make a point of getting out from your home work environment when you can, even if only for a few minutes a day, and cultivate human interaction no matter how casual and fleeting.

7. Remember Why You’re a Freelancer

freelancers tips

Finally, when your motivation is at its absolute nadir, remember exactly why you’re a freelancer in the first place. The benefits of freelancing are many and powerful, from the freedom of choosing your own path to the satisfaction of succeeding under your own steam. If you’re finding it hard to get going, imagine having to give all that up and return to a regular day job. That should provide a powerful incentive to knuckle down to work!

How many of this techniques you use on a daily basis? Tell us in the comment section below.

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13 Comments Freelancers: How to Stoke Your Motivation and Get Things Done

  1. Gabriel Wrigley Jan 20, 2016 at 22:31

    Great read and very timely for me. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Claudia Feb 10, 2016 at 12:17

      Hi Gabriel, I’m glad you like the article :)

      Reply
  2. Jenny Jan 20, 2016 at 23:48

    Perfect timing on this one! I just got laid off. I’ve been wanting to try tho for a while but, you know, it’s hard to leave a steady paycheck. I needed to read this and now I’ll make me a poster of these points and hang it up so I read it everyday!! Thanks

    Reply
    1. Claudia Feb 10, 2016 at 12:17

      You’re very welcome, Jenny! It means a lot to me when I see how motivated you are. Keep up the good work, good times will come :)

      Reply
  3. Frank Pipia Jan 21, 2016 at 03:39

    Appreciate this, great read.

    Reply
    1. Claudia Feb 10, 2016 at 12:16

      Thank you Frank, I’m glad you find this useful!

      Reply
  4. Paritosh Roy Jan 22, 2016 at 22:30

    Awesome post just this is.

    Reply
    1. Claudia Feb 10, 2016 at 12:15

      Glad you like it! :)

      Reply
  5. Emmy Feb 8, 2016 at 05:05

    Evnoryee would benefit from reading this post

    Reply
    1. Claudia Feb 10, 2016 at 11:31

      Thank you Emmy, I’m glad you like it :)

      Reply
  6. [email protected] Feb 13, 2016 at 08:43

    Beginning a freelance career can be scary, especially when you have bills to pay. It is completely worth it to free your creative passion on a daily basis. Keep going, you’ll get there!

    Reply
  7. Swarnabha Banerjee Feb 17, 2016 at 09:57

    Nice read. Very true.

    Reply
  8. Norm Mar 10, 2016 at 01:25

    Thank you so much Claudia, for these wonderful hints and tips!
    I have been stalled in my own personal, non commercial, project, building a history website.
    I just celebrated one year into this project, when I realized that it was going to take a few years! So I felt time didn’t matter anymore!
    Not having Deadlines is a curse, like the Cheshire Cat said, “If you don’t know where, any road will do!”
    //
    These are some of your tips I am going to start on right away!
    #2) “Working for a while on something less urgent and more enjoyable.
    It’s amazing how just getting started on work — any work — will get your professional juices flowing.” (I find somethings in this work are very exciting.)
    #3)+#4) “Splitting up a difficult project into small, manageable tasks, each of which can be easily accomplished, and reward yourself when each snippet of work has been completed. Delaying your next coffee!” (I love my coffee!)
    #4) “Accomplishing the seemingly insignificant but necessary tasks along the way.” (I have been doing a lot of this, but it was to fill the time because I was stalled.) I realized I was doing many sub-tasks spread over a vast number of tasks instead of concentrating on finishing one task! (Again no deadline)
    #1)+#5) “put strong boundaries in place between your working and private lives, both will suffer.” (I get lost in all the Facebook posts)
    #1)“Setting up separate email addresses and social media accounts for professional and personal purposes, so that you can limit the amount of distraction available to you during working hours.” (I love Craigslist, very distracting!)
    I think the saying goes “The way to destroy a person’s goal is to give him two!” I just heard another funny one “A person who walks two paths will split their pants!”
    #7) “Remember exactly why you’re a freelancer in the first place.” = The reason I’m doing this is because It’s for a greater good and no one else will do it! I tagged myself, now I’m it!

    Reply

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