Becoming a freelancer can take you on quite the journey. You are your own boss, determine your own schedule, and can even work in your underwear if you please. Like all journeys, freelancing can become exhausting and you might find yourself unmotivated, discouraged, and distraught.
This is especially true when you don’t see an immediate payout for all of your hard work. Or even a small payout for the work you have been doing for months, maybe even years. It is during this time that most creatives tend to throw in the towel in favor of a grueling, but stable nine to five.
While switching from work-at-home to a regular day job can seem like a good idea, for a lot of freelancers it may actually make matters worse. Because creative people were born to create, there is nothing that dampens the fire of an imaginative mind like spending 40 plus hours a week grinding on projects that simply don’t stimulate.
That being said, staying positive and driven as a freelancer can prove to be a difficult task as well. Setting your own hours sounds amazing, but without proper discipline, procrastination can rear its ugly head and destroy much of what you have worked so hard for. That, plus the added disappointment of rejections and pressure of closing deadlines is enough to send even the most determined freelancer running for the hills.
So just how do you bury the voice that tells you to ‘quit while you’re ahead’? The answer to that question involves a lot of optimism and, at times, comes down to sheer willpower. Don’t let that scare you, though, as you are definitely not alone in this process.
Many freelancers have walked miles in those worn out shoes and gone on to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Because of these artistic ancestors, we now have tips for walking through the freelancing fire. That’s right! This article has been written for you, dream makers! Here are just a few ways to keep yourself motivated during your freelancing journey.
Map it out
One of the most important things you can do in freelancing is to set goals. Why is this important? When you set specific goals you can see a trajectory for yourself and follow suit, sort of like mapping out a long road trip. Just like navigating a long drive, setting goals not only helps you recognize your desired end destination, but also gives you opportunities to pinpoint stops along the way to refuel, stretch, and take a breather.
There are two key principles to keep in mind when mapping out your objectives as a freelancer.
The first principle: being that setting both smaller and larger goals is essential in order to be successful. Setting the finish line is a great start, but without rest stops along the way to check your progress things could get a little tiring. Pace yourself and remember nothing happens overnight.
The second principle: write it down. Research has shown that people who write (or type) down their desired goals are twice as likely to succeed, possibly because on a subconscious level when we write things down it tells our brain that this has been set it stone. In other words, we take what is written down much more seriously than the ideas floating around in our heads.
Pick a Routine
Going into freelancing, you’d think the absence of a routine would get your creative juices flowing. After all, no one is pinning you down and forcing the genius to come out. You can just let it flow. This thought pattern, however, can lead to some serious procrastination. The reality- without a set routine you might find yourself caught up in the fourteenth episode of your favorite sitcom, today.
To avoid that disaster, set a schedule and stick to it. Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily need nine to five hours for this trick to work in your favor either. There are plenty of different creative routines that have been developed just for the purpose of tapping into potential and generating results. Or, if utilizing someone else’s design cramps your style, you can always create a unique routine that works for you!
One example of a schedule that has been developed to boost productivity is the Pomodoro Technique which encourages working in 25 minute long bursts, taking short breaks in between. If a boost in creativity is what you long for, you might want to try polyphasic sleep. Most of us, sleep in a monophasic cycle which means we get solid 8-9 hours at a time and use the rest of our day to do what needs to be done.
However, in a polyphasic sleep cycle sleep time is broken up during the day, typically in much shorter bursts and can reduce the amount of sleep needed down to less than five hours. People who use this method claim that while it takes a bit to get used to, polyphasic sleep actually helps them stay motivated and inspired throughout the day and provides more time for productivity.
No matter what routine you decide on, creating and maintaining a schedule is one of the many ways to stay positive and motivated in a world with a lack of structure.
Maintain a Separate Work Space
One of the ways to get motivated is to simply separate work from home life. This can mean clearing out a corner of the living room for a desk and office supplies or even renting out local office space from the building down the street. What separating work and home looks like for you isn’t near as important and the effects it can have on your freelancing career.
With physical space between a desk and where you live can have sufficient psychological benefits including the ability to stay better focused and sustain a more positive state of mind throughout the work day. Creating a space all your own to solely work not only increases efficiency but can also provide that much-needed sense of relief when you walk away at the end of a long day. That ‘ahhh’ when your tush hits the couch for the weekend can keep you on track to your goals as a freelancer.
Staying motivated as a freelancer can seem like a daunting task. Especially for those who are new to this sparkling world of innovation and creativity, it can feel like standing up to Goliath. Don’t fret, though, by finding a tight community of fellow freelancers and following these ways to keep motivated you can be on your way to a highly sought-after future in freelancing.