As a freelance writer, you will have to be largely self motivated in order to become successful. You won’t have a boss looking over your shoulder to keep you going. In addition, the great flexibility of being able to work whenever you want can often make procrastination a real problem. For many people, staying motivated to get things done is the most difficult part of being self employed. Whether you’re a freelance writer or you own your own business, it is essential to figure out what motivates you.
Keeping Track of What is Effective
One thing I’ve learned to do over the years is to keep track of things that I find motivating. Some of them are easy, such as thinking about paying off bills or spending more time with the family. Others, however, can be quite random. When something happens to strike you as motivating, write it down or save it in a ‘motivation’ document so you can come back to it any time.
For example, if you happen to catch a YouTube video that after watching made you really feel like getting some work done, copy the URL so you can watch it later. If there is a particular song that really gets you pumped up and ready to work, write it down for future use. Anything can be motivating, so don’t let even the smallest things off your list. A picture of a vacation destination, a one line comment from a friend, whatever it is, just keep track of it for future use.
A Large List
I’ve found that if I go back to the same items for motivation over and over, they begin to lose effect. Listening to the “Rocky” theme song, for example, might get me pumped up for work today, but if I start my morning with it all week, it will just become routine. With that in mind, I believe it is essential to have a variety of different motivators available to choose from. The more the better.
Another thing I’ve found to be helpful is to have motivators that use different senses. For example, a motivating song uses your sense of hearing. An inspirational video will primarily use your vision, with some hearing. You may get motivated by telling yourself that if you complete a project by a certain time, you’ll go get a massage, which uses the sense of touch. Using the same idea, reward yourself with your favorite dessert for staying on task to employ the use of your taste.
The sense of smell can be difficult, but get creative with this. What if you lit a candle that had a strong smell every time you happened to be feeling extremely motivated. Over time, you could then use that candle to BECOME motivated! You would be training your mind to respond the way you want, and it really can work!
Sometimes when you’re feeling particularly unmotivated, it can help to get up and do some exercise. This will get the blood flowing throughout your body, and for many people, it can help them become more motivated. You don’t have to go on a 10 mile run either, just drop and do 10 pushups or sit-ups. This can help use up some energy that might have you hopping from one thing to another. Also, try adding some music or a great podcast while you exercise to help harness that motivation that you need.
While certainly not ideal, it is important to know when you just need to walk away from your work for a little while. Sometimes it is better to go take a nap, watch a movie or spend time with the family than to try to keep forcing yourself to get something done. While you shouldn’t do it too often, sometimes it is really the only choice. Sitting in front of a computer jumping between email, Facebook and YouTube isn’t productive (unless you’re being productive on those sites) so take a step away and try again later.