Whether you’re having a bad week, month, or year, it can be tough as a freelancer to buckle down and get to work when your head isn’t in the game. And in a world of Facebook, Netflix, and kittens, there are a million ways for our minds to wander when we’re going through a rough patch.
When you finally do get down to business, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the work, the marketing, the networking, the follow up, the numbers, the statistics—it’s all a little too much at times. The important part is to develop a process that works for you.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Get It Out
You’ve got seven mental lists going at any given time, ranging from what needs to get done immediately for your current clients all the way to what you want to buy your family for Christmas. Your head can positively swirl with all the junk that needs to get done. The best course of action here is to get it all out.
Grab a notebook and start a new list on each page. Get all the details out so you don’t have to kill yourself trying to remember it all. Once it’s on paper, it’s no longer cluttering your brain, and you reduce the risk of missing something super important.
2. Break It Down
If you’ve got a full plate, but you don’t feel like starting on any of it, it’s easy to just write off the day as a failure and let the gremlins take you to a place of guilt and frustration. Don’t let valuable time slip away from you because your brain is making you feel lazy as heck. Break up your tasks into small, bite-sized pieces to make them feel like less of a burden.
Try some of the awesome business software out there like Trello, Dubsado, or 17Hats. These project management systems can help you break down your tasks into manageable pieces, so you don’t get weighed down by how many things you need to do for every project.
3. Just Do One Thing
I know, it’s easier said than done. Remember, any movement is better than no movement. If you’re having a tough time getting yourself to find the discipline to get started, give yourself a single, simple task and a timeline. You have one hour to get write this blog post. You have thirty minutes to write an email to this possible client. You have fifteen minutes to make this two-second call you’ve been dreading. Just prompt yourself to get one thing done.
The excitement and relief you’ll get after doing it will make you feel so accomplished, that you may just start a second task!
4. Phone a Friend
When you’re stuck in a rut or feeling depressed, the best thing to do is to talk to someone. You may not feel like it, but friends can be wonderful motivators. Challenge yourself to reach out. Get coffee, or just invite them to your house for coffee so you don’t even need to get out of your pajamas. A little bit of social time will go a long way.
Once you’ve got your friend’s ear, let them know how you’ve been feeling and about your lack of motivation. I guarantee they’ve been through the same thing before at some point. They might even have a great hack for you to break back into the game. If nothing else, your friend’s sympathetic mumbles of “been there” will help you remember that this is temporary and you are not alone.
5. Treat Yo’self
It’s all about action and reward. Did you get a post written? Good. You get a cookie. Did you make that call? Excellent, take a ten minute break. If you train yourself to know that once you finish a task, you get a little reward, you’re much more likely to start getting things done.
6. Remember That It’s Okay
You may not be putting in the 12-hour work days you were doing a month ago, but don’t beat yourself up because you’re not a machine. Just put one foot in front of the other and know your limits. It’s okay to have a tough time. It’s okay to feel depressed. What’s not okay is doing nothing about it. Even if you didn’t accomplish anything but taking a shower, remember that’s a step forward. Give yourself the love and self-care you need to feel better, so you can get back to the life you love.
Kelsey is the owner of Noted & Noticed, where she helps non-writers and sort-of writers create kick-ass copy to grow their businesses and nonprofits. Kelsey has been writing for nearly eight years and loves to help people get creative in telling their story. To learn more, visit Kelsey at notedandnoticed.com.
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