Staying motivated as a freelancer is tough, even though freelancing provides many benefits, such as no commute, flexible hours and a choice of projects. These tips can help you avoid burnout and stay excited about your line of work.
1. Network with other freelancers.
One of the most common complaints among freelancers is feeling isolated. Because you no longer have coworkers and an office environment, you may feel as if you are going stir-crazy, especially if your freelance job requires that you work from a home office. Networking with other freelancers will provide you with companionship and inspiration, which can help you stay motivated.
2. Schedule out your workweek.
Because you no longer have a boss setting your schedule, you will need to motivate yourself through setting and maintaining your own schedule. Experiment with options to find out what works best for you. Do you like to write out your hours and projects on a desk calendar, or do you prefer to set your hours in your Blackberry? Do you like a consistent schedule, or do you like to build flexibility into your workweek? By setting your schedule, you commit yourself to working, which may be all the discipline you need.
3. Widen your scope of projects as needed.
It’s easy to get pigeon-holed into one kind of work as a freelancer. Existing clients will most likely refer other similar clients, making your workload monotonous. Take the time to investigate way to broaden your scope and take on a fun project once in a while, even if it pays less than your typical project. For example, if you typically write content for Web sites, try editing a manuscript or writing an article for a magazine you really enjoy. The new, fun work can help you take pride in your business overall and help you stay motivated.
4. Narrow your focus if you are spread too thin to do any project well.
Perhaps the opposite is true, and you are taking on so many projects of different scopes that you never settle into a rhythm. If you are trying to master too many different forms of your craft, decide which kind of project is the one or two you’d like to focus on, and work at building a client base requiring those kinds of projects.
5. Limit your workload so you aren’t overwhelmed.
The fast track to burn out is to take on too much work. Make sure you schedule in breaks to rejuvenate your spirit.
6. Outsource the parts of your job that are most unpleasant.
Do you drag your feet whenever it comes time to invoice clients? Do you procrastinate and waste time when you should be marketing yourself and finding new clients? Hire someone else to do the parts of your job that cause you to waste time or lose motivation. Consider hiring someone to clean your house, do your lawn work, take care of your paperwork, manage your inventory, buy your supplies or generate leads. As a result, you can devote your time to your projects and be more productive, sometimes making more money than it will cost you to hire someone to do the things you hate to do. If nothing else, you’re preserving your motivation to freelance, which is priceless.
7. Protect your personal time.
One of the biggest threats to staying motivated is the feeling that you are working “all the time” since your work and personal life may begin to mingle as you freelance. Curb this feeling before it becomes a problem by clearly stating when you are working and when you are not working, and refusing to allow the two to mix. Make it clear to clients that you are not available during your personal hours, and make it clear to your friends and family that you are not to be interrupted while you are working. Designate times for work and times for pleasure, and refuse to allow yourself to dip from one into the other, since even allowing yourself personal time during your work hours may make you feel like you’ve got to make up for your indulgence by working extra later on when you should be enjoying your personal time.
8. Partner up with another freelancer.
If loneliness is squelching your motivation, consider partnering up with another freelancer and renting an office together or meeting up to work in a coffee house from time to time. By sharing resources, office space, and even responsibilities, you can solve the problem of feeling isolated while still maintaining your freedom.
9. Invest in structuring tools.
If self-discipline is a problem, consider investing in structuring tools that may help you remain on track. Software is available for all kinds of business needs, making invoicing, record-keeping, and scheduling much more pleasurable. A new gadget can make dull work a little more pleasant.
10. Post a visual motivator by your work area.
Revisit your reasons for freelancing and write up a mission statement for your business, which you can post by your computer. Try taping up a picture of a trip you’re saving up for, a cabin you’d like to build, or a car you want to purchase anything that helps you stay motivated. A list of satisfied client blurbs may also give you that extra motivation
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