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Three mind tricks for freelancers to stay motivated

It’s easy for me, just throw money my way and I’m off. But not everyone is that easily motivated to work.

This is particularly true for freelancers and remote workers, people who have the “luxury” of working from home. I’ve placed these suspicious question marks for a reason – not everyone considers working from home a luxury. For some people, it’s a bigger nightmare than being forced to watch a mash-up of 50 shades of grey and Twilight, while listening Justin Bieber sing ‘All about that bass’.

What is it about home working that some freelancers find so intimidating?

Distractions, distractions and – distractions. The TV is too close, and too loud. The kids are all over the place. They’re either fighting, or playing – sometimes obnoxiously. Your uncomprehending family keeps repeating the ‘you work from home, you have all the time in the world’ mantra, whenever there’s a chore that needs doing.
The worst part of it all – other people aren’t even your biggest enemy. You, yourself – it’s you who you should be fighting against.

Master yourself, master your enemy

• Whenever you tell yourself ‘I have plenty of time to get this done’, you’re shooting yourself in the leg.
• Whenever you tell yourself ‘I know what to do, I’ve done this a million times’, you’re shooting yourself in the leg.
• Whenever you decide not to give it your all, because you don’t have a boss to pressure you, you’re actually doing a good thing. Just kidding, you’re shooting yourself in the leg, again.

These are just some of the reasons some people hate freelancing – if they’re not in a professional surrounding, they simply can’t get themselves to work properly. The fact of the matter is – it’s all in your head. If you’re having trouble focusing, try these brain hacks:

Take a shower

Three mind tricks for freelancers to stay motivated
Where creative magic happens

Back in 2009, PR firm Lucre did an eight-week study on productivity and creativity, and tested employees from four companies in totally different industries – one was a restaurant, another an architect firm, the third one was an advertising agency and the fourth a lingerie company.

Besides the usual daily wash breaks – employees took shower breaks. Productivity was up 42 percent, and creativity was up 33 percent!

In a job where creativity is essential, and productivity decides how much you actually earn, simply doing the right thing – AT THE RIGHT TIME – can help you dramatically.

(un)Clean your desk

Organized mess is not an oxymoron – it’s a proven fact. Just because your wife or husband thinks a pencil should be sitting in a jar on the desk – that doesn’t mean you don’t know where it is – it’s under the bed, behind the front left leg, between the sock and two legos. The relation between a messy desk and productivity / creativity is messy itself – some will say mess will help you, others that it seriously hurts your productivity. Obviously, people are different, but there certainly is a connection between the two states. So, if you’re among the struggling freelancers, trying to focus, look at your desk. If it’s clean – make it messy. If it looks like a power struggle between two cats took place there – clean it up a bit, see how it goes.

Make a to-do list

Don't overdo it
Don’t overdo it

This one is tricky. Do this one wrong, and the whole thing goes to sh*t. You see, if you make a too ambitious of a list, it becomes too hard to accomplish. That can completely ruin your self-esteem. It can actually make you think you’re not fit for the job. The point is to list things that don’t need more than a couple hours to complete. Write down a list every morning, before you actually start working. Grab yourself a cup of coffee (or whatever other morning narcotic you use to get you through the day), and just think about all the things that need to be done that day. Sort them out by starting with the most difficult ones (the ones you need most energy for). As the day progresses, and you get things done, tick them off on your list.

This can help boost productivity in two ways. The first one is obvious – once you start crossing things off, you’ll naturally be motivated to finish the rest. The other one is even more interesting – after a week, two weeks or a month – go through the old lists and see all the things you’ve accomplished during that time. There is no better way to motivate yourself than to see how far you’ve come!

I sincerely hope these tricks help freelancers everywhere get the most out of their day. Sometimes, when I have too much work to do, I panic. Writing a list and sticking to it calms me down and gives me motivation.

My desk is completely empty – just the laptop and the mouse. I hide all unrelated bookmarks. And if you’re having trouble with friends and family, turning off your smartphone every now and then really helps. You can also try visiting a coffee shop, or a library. Works wonders for freelancers.

What are your mind hacks to help you focus more on work? Don’t hesitate to share in the comments below!

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