Making your own schedule is the big plus when working for yourself. It’s also the big challenge. Binge watching a new series on Netflix or staying in bed another hour is sometimes too much of a temptation to resist. No boss to ask why you aren’t at your computer by 9am, also comes with no boss to push you toward deadlines or remind you of the consequences of falling behind. We dream of leaving school and having no one to force structure upon us but suddenly we’re grown and we crave routine, recognition, and reward. You may also have the guilt when you don’t get enough done. Taking the morning off felt good at the moment, but suddenly you feel bad for not working instead.
If you too feel this internal conflict of enjoying the freedom but are perhaps not being as productive as you could be, these could be helpful tips for you:
1. It’s your job. It’s awesome that you are your own superior, but it’s your job. You may be told by your more “structured” friends that you don’t have a real job – fuck them, you do.
2. Wake up at a certain time every day. Choose your own golden hour. If you’re one of those lucky “morning people” (I hate you, but congrats) then get up as if you were headed to your nine to five. If 2pm is your most productive hour, structure your day around that with the same “work day” approach.
3. Branch out. The more positive feedback you get, the more you’ll feel motivated to keep going. Movement usually spawns even more movement.
4. Take occasional breaks. If you need a day to re-group take it and don’t waste energy beating yourself up about it. Take the time, but make sure the next day you get back to the task at hand.
5. Be flexible. Lose the ears that obey other people’s strict opinions. We are in the age of absolute chaos, literally anything goes at this point, so why should you adhere to a conservative structure? It is all too easy to compare ourselves to previous generations, but the fact is they didn’t live with the Internet.
6. Continuing from that, be wary of how much time you spend on social media. This might be THE most important one. It’s all too easy to get sucked in, don’t lose your own precious time watching other people. We are constantly seeing what other people are doing and comparing our own successes/failures. It’s the new “keeping up with Joneses”. This is not productive. Don’t fuckin do it.
7. Make lists. It is very likely, due to your life choice that you are not a type A list maker. This does not mean you can’t borrow our organized friends’ methods. The worst is doing a good day of work and suddenly realizing you forgot that email you were supposed to send. So, set yourself up for success and just make the list.
8. Surround yourself with other freelancers. Being around like-minded people will give you resources for advice and when you’re having an un-motivated day, they could be the ones to give you the kick up the ass you need.
9. Also, talk to people that aren’t self-employed. Their methods may be tailored to a different kind of pressure but they probably have helpful tips on how to meet deadlines and live a somewhat more stable existence.
10. Sacrifice. Sometimes you won’t be able to do brunch on Sunday or do happy hour on Friday. This is just part of your choice. Don’t let that FOMO take you away from your goal, but take a day off when you need to and treat yourself to real sleep. Rest is as essential as motion- Bertrand Russell.
Choosing the path less traveled is scary and can feel lonely. Remember you are not alone and that there never was a better time to pursue your dreams. The internet (not social media) is the biggest tool you have, use it and go be the you always wanted to be.