Why it’s awesome to be a freelancer – choosing when you work. Disadvantage of being a freelancer? Choosing when you work. With days stretching out ahead and deadlines feeling like forever away, it’s all too easy to find yourself endlessly refreshing your Facebook newsfeed or indulging in an all-day (or all-week…) Netflix binge. Next thing you know, you’ve watched six seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race and that important piece of work is no closer to being complete. Or worse – it’s 3am the night before your client is expecting the finished product. How can you avoid falling into this trap and beat the procrastination bug?
1. Break it down.
Remember you’re only human and be realistic. Vowing to sit down and work for eight hours straight won’t miraculously make you do that, and almost certainly won’t make you more productive. Instead, split your days into chunks. Work for an hour and then give yourself a short break and treat yourself – whether it’s going for a short walk, chatting to a friend or chilling with your dog. Make your progress visual – make a sticker chart or use an electronic equivalent such as the app Forest.
2. Fake deadlines
Keep your progress and goals in mind and figure out where you want to be on a project, day by day or week by week. Set yourself frequent deadlines, even if they’re made-up (and more importantly stick to them!)
3. Block Facebook/Netflix/Reddit (or whatever your poison is)
Block the websites and apps that are most likely to distract you from your work. Or even better, if you can, go offline altogether. There are several browser add-ons that will do this for you:
Self-Control – lets you put websites on a blacklist for up to 24 hours.
Freedom – blocks the internet completely for up to 8 hours.
Focus – blocks distracting websites (and shows you a motivational quote in their place!)
4. Stay in contact
Keep in touch with your client and update them on what’s happening. It’s harder to procrastinate when you know your client’s expecting a progress report. It also gives them the chance to feedback and you can improve as you go, rather than making large-scale alterations when you think you’re finished.
5. Pause. Reflect.
Remember, procrastination isn’t all bad. Procrastinating gives your mind a chance to breathe and this can foster creativity (and Stanford philosopher John Perry agrees!) A break that goes on longer than intended means you come back to your project with fresh eyes and new ideas – and that can only be a good thing.