The trouble with being freelance, is how easy it is to fall victim to procrastination! SO MANY SHINY THINGS.
When you’re paid by the hour, using your time efficiently is vital. Whilst it’s a running joke that freelancers work from home in front of the TV, in their pyjamas, my experience is that freelancers are more driven and efficient than people in traditional office jobs, because they’re judged far more on their output. Coasting has consequences.
I’m not suggesting you hustle all the time by the way. You might only work 3 hours a day! But this post is for those days when you need to get stuff done, but your brain is taking a sail down the river of distractions.
I get distracted super easily. Like ‘ooh squirrel!’ easily. But the squirrel is a new Canva template, or a Tiktok search away from a two hour scroll session. If you hadn’t guessed already, I have ADHD too (like a LOT of freelancers) and so I need my little toolkit of time tips for when my brain has taken a wander.
Here’s what I do if I’m stuck in procrastination mode.
- Let’s kick off with the cliche. Stop being on your phone ALL THE TIME. Honestly. I’m so guilty of this (as in, I’ve been told off for hoovering while swiping through Instagram), and have to make a real effort to tuck my phone away for a few hours. If you suspect you might be a mobile over-user, tuck it away in your desk drawer for an hour and see how much you get done.
- Download the Forest app to actually block you out of your phone for a period of time if hiding it doesn’t work (it plants a tiny virtual tree, and if you use the phone before the tree has grown, it dies!)
- When I’m struggling with a boring task, I ask myself ‘how can I make this more fun or pleasurable?’. It might be a change of location, using new stationery, meeting up with a friend to get it done (see the next tip), putting on a favourite playlist or a reward for each step I do.
- I also ask myself why I’m procrastinating on something. Is it because it’s boring? Feels hard? It’s going to be awkward? Identifying why you’re procrastinating can sometimes be the key to working out how to overcome it.
- Use a timer. If I get Alexa to set a 30 minute timer, it magically makes me get more done.
- Is body doubling your thing? If you haven’t heard of it, it’s when you work on your own work, while alongside someone else working on their stuff. It can be virtual or in person. And sometimes, it can be listening to podcasts while you work. I use Flown sessions for group body doubling. And we often have accountability sessions in my membership to get stuff done, plus a Messenger thread.
- Save drafts or templates of emails you regularly send. It helps you overcome that ‘where do I start, it’s too overwhelming!’ feeling. For me, that’s coaching contracts, email confirmations, answers to common questions and my fee structure. I’ve got a bundle of email templates for difficult client conversations here.
- I’ve also got an auto-responder set up with the answers to common questions I get. Essentially an FAQ on your Out of Office, which means it’s likely you’ll answer their question without having to write an email.
- I used to use MixMax in Gmail (affil, but it’s free) too, which lets me save templates, and very quickly insert things like available dates from my calendar, polls and more.
- If you want to take this to another level, try Dubsado (affil link) – you can create workflows with all the emails, contracts and scheduling included, so you don’t even have to get involved in the early stages.
- Plan your weeks and days. Yes, it’s boring. But when you know exactly what you have to do that day, it’s easier to get focused than thinking ‘crap, I’ve got so much to do but I’m not 100% sure what!’ Choose your top three goals each day and your Frog, you have to eat before anything else. I use Sunsama to turn my emails into tasks, add all my tasks into my calendar and review how I’m spending my time.
- In fact, goal setting in general will really help with keeping you focused and avoiding procrastination. Procrastination so often comes from a lack of clarity on steps to take. If goal-setting makes you want to hide and spend hours swiping through Pinterest, I have a course in my Freelance Business Lounge that’s perfect for you – Goal Setting For Freelancers!
- Oh, and putting my mum hat on, have you drank enough water? Had a snack? Had enough sleep? Sometimes procrastination is our body telling us we need to rest, eat or drink!