One of the biggest problems every freelancer experiences is procrastination: That irresistible temptation to do absolutely anything except work on the project or article that’s been assigned. A job comes in and, suddenly, it becomes critical that we re-organise our outlook calendars or write out a shopping list. I’ll admit, just two days ago I found myself distracted for half an hour by videos of cats on YouTube when I should have been writing!
It happens… And rest assured it’s more common than you realise. In fact, one survey showed that a fifth of us consider ourselves to be chronic procrastinators!
Getting distracted and wasting time in a regular 9-5 job might get you a slap on the wrist, but when you’re a freelancer, it can cause you a lot of drama. After all, missing a deadline can lose you clients AND income. Nobody wants that!
Procrastination can also slow down your prospecting and lose you work before you’ve even pitched! That’s why at Learn Freelance Writing we offer a pitching template to make the process quick and easy.
So what can you do to stop dodging work?
Here’s our top tips:
1. Make a list using a program like Trello, labelling your most important tasks and setting aside anything unimportant.
2. Break unappealing tasks into mini tasks and complete each one individually. For example, if you’ve been assigned the task to write a 3000 word article, break it down into a series of sections.
3. Don’t feel obliged to write chronologically. If you find yourself unable to start a blog post or an article, begin by bulking out the main body and come back to the introduction at a later date.
4. Give yourself scheduled time to procrastinate! Use this time to watch videos on YouTube, partake in totally unnecessary re-organising activities and play silly online games. Set a timer if you need to.
5. Give yourself an incentive. As soon as you find yourself procrastinating, tell yourself: If I stop procrastinating and complete this article, I will reward myself with a chocolate brownie and a bubble bath afterwards.
6. Don’t try to motivate yourself using fear. If you tell yourself you’ll lose a client if you don’t finish a task, you will panic. Panic doesn’t tend to induce creativity!
7. Do something that stirs your creative juices. This might be listening to music, watching a classic cult film or reading a moving book. You could even set up an account with Audible and download some motivational audio books to listen to.
8. Change your environment. Take your laptop upstairs to your bedroom and try to work from there, or sit in the garden if it’s a sunny day!
9. Use an anti-procrastination software (yes, that’s a real thing!) to block out common distractions.
10. Reach out to your support network for a kick up the butt! If you join Learn Freelance Writing, our members’ group will certainly help get you into gear.
Got another idea on how to beat procrastination? Comment below and let us know your techniques.