Forty per-cent of the workforce in the US is expected to be operating without a boss by 2020 (
Working as a freelancer leads to a significant increase in personal freedom. It can mean you are able to set your own hours, and you don’t need permission to take the day off so long as you get the work done. With no boss looking over your shoulder, you can move at your own pace, and if you fancy a break, you can just take one. The fact that you can work from home means that you enjoy a higher level of comfort than you would get in an office – you can even turn up to work in your pajamas if you so desire.
“The employed are punished by having to do what they do not love. The self-employed are punished by the opposite.”
The benefits of being free of the boss make it an appealing proposition, but this change in the way we work also has its downside. Without supervision, it becomes much easier to slack off, and the comforts associated with being at home can turn into massive distractions. Working in an office can motivate you to make an effort no matter what your mood, but as a freelancer you know that you could get away with just taking the day off. It can be difficult to maintain a high level of productivity without a boss to spur you on, so here are some suggestions for how you can become skilled at self-motivation.
Create A Space For Work And Set Boundaries
One of the benefits of working in an office environment is that it means you are going to be protected from many distractions. The problem with working from home is that you are not going to have the same protection. If you don’t set clear boundaries, you may struggle to separate your work demands from your family demands. If you try to conduct business in a part of the home where there is too much going on, it can be almost impossible to focus fully on what you need to be doing.
If you plan on working from home, you need to have your own space where you are going to be left in peace. There need to be clear rules about people not disturbing you while you work, because it can take up to 25 minutes to completely regain your focus after an interruption. You also need to remove anything from your home office that is going to act as a distraction. If you are unable to find the peace and quiet you need to work at home, you could rent some shared office space or use a coffee shop.
Plan Your Work Day
It is recommended that you create a schedule for the next day at the end of every work day. This is going to give you a clearer idea of what needs to be done, and it reduces the temptation to procrastinate. Making this schedule the day before is a good idea because it allows you to mentally prepare for the day ahead. Productivity experts like Brian Tracy recommend you arrange it so you tackle the most difficult tasks early in the day. It is also important to prioritize so use your time in the best possible way. To-do lists are an excellent tool for prioritizing, and they also make it easier to plan what needs to be done and when.
You may find you work best by having a regular schedule. Once you know that you are going to be working for a set period every day, it becomes easier to get in the right frame of mind. Having a schedule is as much about making sure you work enough hours as it is about getting enough rest.
Set Daily, Weekly, And Monthly Targets
“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.”
If you don’t feel accountable to a boss, there can be a temptation to drift a bit aimlessly in your career. The benefit of setting goals is that it gives you something to work towards, and it provides a mechanism for judging your performance. It’s likely that there will be many times when you don’t hit your targets, and you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to beat yourself up, but you can learn from these failures and do better next time.
It is good to have daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly targets. It is useful to think of the daily targets as the steps you need to take to reach your overall goal. The problem with just having one main target (e.g. earn $100,000 for the year) is that it is too easy to get lost along the way. Daily and weekly targets mean you can judge your progress and make adjustments as needed.
Try The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is a wonderful time management tool that can help freelancers reach a high level of productivity. It was devised by Francesco Cirillo, and it involves working for 25 minute intervals, and then taking a short break – although there are variations on this. The idea is that by breaking up your periods of concentration, you are going to enjoy better focus and be able to get more done overall. It is similar to how boxers take a break in-between rounds so they can reenergize and be ready to come out swinging again once the bell rings.
One of the other benefits of the Pomodoro technique is it can make it easier for you to judge your hourly work rate – you need to know this if you intend to charge clients for your time rather than your output.
Conduct Your Own Performance Reviews
It is recommended that you conduct your own performance review every three months. This gives you the opportunity to assess your progress towards your goals, and to decide if you need to make changes to your plan. It is vital that you are completely honest with yourself while doing this type of assessment. If you discover you have not been doing as well as expected, you need to develop a new strategy to get you back on track.
Reward Yourself For Reaching Targets
Giving yourself a reward for hitting your targets can help to increase your motivation. It doesn’t have to be anything too extravagant; it is just about giving yourself some recognition for a job well done. When you work in an office environment, the boss is able to offer praise as well as criticism, but you can miss out on this when you are a freelancer. This is a problem because if you don’t feel properly rewarded for all your hard work, it is going to be hard to keep going.