Being a freelancer is beneficial in many ways. You can focus more on your work without typical distractions and you can get things done quicker and more efficiently. But once you’re over your freelance honeymoon period, you might find yourself struggling to keep up with your motivation and staying productive. They call it ‘losing the hustle’, but it’s really more about losing your focus. Trust me, I’ve been there.
We all get to a place where at some point, it seems like we’re on an autopilot. There were countless of times when weekends just flew by and I kept asking myself what day it is and I couldn’t believe that it’s Monday all over again. At some point, I also fell into a loop of thinking how much I don’t enjoy freelancing anymore. But as it happens with every single job you have in your life, that loop comes and goes and this is precisely how you can stay productive and motivated as a freelancer.
Disclaimer: I’m not sponsored by any company or app mentioned in this blog – these are all real opinions.
Have an overview of your projects
I used to be the type of person that has everything in their head and I was able to pull information on everything without having to check my diary. From meetings to tasks I was required to do, I was able to recite them all. But once I started receiving more and more clients, I realized I need to put everything in a single place. I’m NOT sponsored by either of these tools, but they’re the most effective things you can get to make sure you have a clear overview of your projects.
I use Trello to plan my week ahead. I got inspired by the template one of my clients shared with me because I realized it’s really effective and helps me get my work done. Here’s how I organize everything:
Yellow labels mean that it’s in the works, orange labels mean I need to hear back from my client, and green labels mean that the task is done and the client’s been informed. I do this every single week to make sure I have a clear overview of my tasks and can prioritize necessary things.
- Google Calendar
I’m the type that uses my phone for everything – I even set a timer alarm to remind me that my tea’s now ready to drink. But Google Calendar is my favorite app for just about anything else. Any meeting, any Skype call, any invoice reminder, basically anything goes in my Google Calendar. I make sure I set up email notifications and alerts for 2 days before as well as 2 hours before to never miss my meetings.
I use Togg.l just to see how much time I actually spend procrastinating when I should be working. It’s honestly quite embarrassing, but it’s a fantastic motivator to keep me going and actually realize when I need to take a break. Apart from that, I also give time reports to all non-Upwork clients I work with.
Schedule ‘me time’
I learned how easy it is to just work until the end of time, especially if you’re getting paid just for the time you work. Admittedly, this is one of the things I miss about working in-house – every minute counts and taking breaks means you won’t get paid. But ‘me time’ is important. I don’t start working before 10am and take at least 4 hours every day for myself. Whether that means sleeping, meditating, working out or anything else. I try to not indulge in any work activities.
Apps I use to stay healthy:
- Headspace or Calm
- Forest – Forest helps you stay focused without checking your phone – good for work productivity, but also good or taking the time away from technology. Plus you plant cute forests along the way!
- 7-minute workout
Let go of clients when it’s time
One of the things I learned the hard way was in order to stay motivated and productive, freelancers have the power to let go of their clients at any point they feel like it’s not going to work out. Switching jobs quickly is never a good sign, but as a freelancer, you have the ability to do this as soon as your projects are over. I love all my long-term clients and have worked with some for over two years, but I also get extremely motivated whenever I bring a new client on board. Job hopping is never okay in the typical in-house world, but getting new clients and expanding my portfolio is one of the most exciting and refreshing moments of being a freelancer.
How to find new clients:
Go out of town
I’m definitely trying to do more of traveling for 2018. I feel like a different scenery is essential to staying productive and motivated as a freelancer. We’re often stuck in a very unsocial environment, considering we don’t really have co-workers right next to us. So changing scenery is refreshing, motivational, and a fantastic reminder why you chose this career in the first place. Even if it just means working from a cafe and listening to office people complain about their coworkers.
How to find cheap and last-minute flights to get away from it all:
Find your crew
One of the best things I’ve done as a freelancer is surrounding myself with people who are doing exactly the same thing. It’s the best way to stay motivated. Surround yourself with those who are able to bring the best in you. I live in a place that’s totally catered to freelancers. It allows people to meet each other and share ideas. Without it, I’d definitely be more lost, especially in London.