How to Stay Motivated as a Freelancer

By Elizabeth Wellington, Contributor, on December 5, 2016

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One of the biggest challenges freelancers face is just keeping up. Whether it’s an increasingly large workload, difficult clients or motivating yourself, freelancers can face enormous difficulty getting through the workday. And, without the support of colleagues or managers, it’s easy to procrastinate or buckle under the pressure of too many demands.

When thinking about how to stay motivated, get creative. In my time as a freelancer, I’ve come up with three tips to pull me out of my doldrums. Next time you feel uninspired, give one of these ideas a try; they may be the keys to success you’ve missed all along.

1. Break Each Task Into Quarters

When I feel stuck, I resist the temptation to put myself down. Instead, I break down a task into quarters. For example, if I’m working on an article for a client, I’ll create a list of four mini-tasks: brainstorm ideas, write a quick draft, review the draft and make changes. Each time I complete one mini-task, I allow myself to take a break for a few minutes. I might grab myself a cup of tea or text a friend. In other words, I break up the project into manageable, achievable pieces. And often, before I even know it, I’ve already done the rest of the work.

2. Create an Artificial Deadline

As a freelancer, I’m accountable to myself — first and foremost. Yes, I’m bound to deadlines, but I need to work far in advance to hit them. When I’m concerned about using my time wisely, I find an accountability partner. In other words, I reach out to a friend and ask them to hold me to a specific deadline. No matter what, at that time and day, I owe them the project. Setting these artificial deadlines keeps me motivated on days when I don’t have anything immediate on my plate.

3. Reward a Job Well Done

Thinking about how to stay motivated can be fun, too. This approach is my favorite way to focus, especially when I’m distracted: Rather than procrastinate, I think of a reward that will motivate me to complete the project. I’ve learned that it needs to be something that feels indulgent to me, like getting my nails done, seeing a movie or buying something new. Even though these rewards cost money, they actually help my bottom line. By motivating myself with something fun, I can double my productivity while improving my quality of life.

By breaking each task into quarters, creating artificial deadlines and rewarding my hard work, I keep on task at every moment. These tips are just a jumping point, however — take note of which techniques work for you, and tweak them accordingly.

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