As a freelance writer, distractions are your worst enemy. That’s a problem since working from home means you’re surrounded by a myriad of things claiming your attention. Without discipline, you’re going to have a bad time.
Dealing with procrastination as a freelancer is difficult, but it can be done. However, everyone faces this problem in their own way, so you need to find out what works for you and stick with it.
For this article, I’m going to walk you through what helps me fight procrastination in freelance writing. I’ll break down why it works for me, and hopefully, it’ll help you as well. Let’s jump right in!
1. Develop a Work Routine
When I tell people I’m a freelancer, they always comment on how fun it must be to work from home and take time off whenever I want. Then they look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I also have a work schedule, much as they do.
The problem is, the idea of working whenever you fancy sounds excellent, but in practice, it breeds bad habits. If you don’t force yourself to get started on work, you’re going to run into plenty of distractions.
These days, I get started on work anytime between 8-10 AM, with the goal of getting everything done by 4 PM. That way, I still have energy left for the rest of the day, I can go to the gym, and hang out with friends if I want to. More importantly, having a set schedule means I know I need to avoid procrastination during that time.
That what works for me, but my advice is to go ahead and test different routines until you land on one you’re happy with. Once you settle on a routine you like, stick with it, and you’ll realize that fighting distraction becomes much easier.
2. Block Distracting Websites and Put Away Your Smartphone
The internet is your ally as a freelance writer since it enables you to find jobs, make a living, and do all your research. However, it’s also your greatest foe because it packs more distractions than you can shake a stick at.
While writing this article, I got distracted visiting Reddit, which cost me about 20 minutes. Not that much, but once you start adding up all those distractions, you’ll realize you are losing hours of work time every day.
What works for me is outright blocking the websites that distract me the most. To that end, I use a Chrome extension called Strict Workflow, which is based on the Pomodoro technique. Each time I click on it, the extension blocks all those pesky time-wasting sites for stretches of 25 minutes, so I have no option but to work:
As for my smartphone, what I do is leave it in another room when I’m supposed to be working. That way, if I want to waste time, I’m forced to get up, walk out of my office, and get it. It’s no effort at all, but the extra steps remind me I should stick to work.
3. Change Your Scenery From Time to Time
In the past, I used to split my time between home and a coworking space when it was time to write. However, after a few months of the same routine, I usually start to get bored.
It took me a while, but I realized I like switching up the places where I work. These days, I have a list of coffee shops, coworking spaces, and libraries where I know I feel comfortable and will be able to focus. When I don’t feel like working from home, I choose one of them and get my butt over there.
My work schedule remains the same. However, the simple act of going someplace new enables me to focus even better on my work, and it gets the creative juices flowing. Plus, you can get other people to bring you coffee instead of making it yourself, so it’s a win-win however you look at it.
4. Reward Yourself for Staying Focused
Despite all the tricks I employ to keep my brain focused, sometimes the only thing that works is promising myself a reward for staying focused.
For me, that reward is usually food-related. If I have a ton of work I need to get through in a day, I might tell myself when I’m done, I’ll have earned the right to order a pizza, eat some chocolate cake, or open a nice bottle of wine.
Naturally, you can’t always treat yourself to a pizza or a glass of wine. Not only would your bank account suffer, but your body would hate you as well. However, this trick works wonders for me when I have a particularly busy day ahead of me and I need to get my head in the game.
5. Try Networking With Other Freelancers Who Can Help Keep You Accountable
One of the biggest downsides of working from home is there’s no peer pressure to get work done. In an office, you can’t be seen lounging around all day, because that’d quickly get you fired. However, at home, no one cares if you take an hour off to catch up on your Netflix queue.
Working anywhere that’s not home is a significant first step. However, I also recommend you try and get to know other freelancers, so you have work buddies who can help you stay focused.
Meeting freelancers is easier said than done, of course, since we tend to move around so much and work on our own. In my experience, there are three great ways to network if you don’t know any other freelancers in your area:
- Look for Meetups about itinerant coworking spaces, which are perfect to make friends.
- Stick around for any social events your favorite coworking space offers.
- Try to brainwash some of your friends into becoming freelancers.
That last one only works if your friends are already considering giving freelancing a shot. However, the other two approaches have done wonders for me when working from a new city. Usually, it’s not that hard to make a friend or two you can work alongside once in a while. When you do, your productivity should skyrocket.
If you’re anything like me, you are a machine when you’re entirely focused. The problem is, getting into the zone and fighting procrastination in freelance writing is more difficult than you’d imagine. It takes discipline, but you can become more productive than you would believe with a little work.
Here’s what does it for me when it comes to fighting procrastination as a freelance writer:
- Sticking to a work routine.
- Knocking the easy stuff out of the way early.
- Blocking distracting websites and putting away my phone.
- Changing my scenery from time to time.
- Rewarding myself for staying focused.
- Networking with other freelancers who can help me stay on track.
Do you have any tricks you use to beat procrastination as a freelance writer? Share them with us in the comments section below!