No matter if you’re a freelance veteran or a rookie feeling overwhelmed, experiencing procrastination is something all marketers know well and eventually learn to overcome.
When working on your own time, clockwatching doesn’t make the day go faster or help you get paid quicker — it only serves to reduce the time you're allowed to spend creating quality campaigns for your client.
As a freelancer, recognizing that the odd lapse in concentration is okay can help you refocus, but letting distractions rule your day costs you contracts and angers clients. In this article we explore the following four tips to help give procrastination the boot:
- Set yourself clear expectations and achievable goals
- Build a professional and focused home office space
- Remove distractions and schedule regular (timed) breaks
Whether you’re stuck on a particular project or simply feeling unfulfilled and burnt out by the pressures of being a freelancer, the tempting urge to procrastinate can occur for all manner of reasons. Read on as we help you stay focused on the task at hand.
Set yourself clear expectations and SMART goals
Being a self-employed freelancer you’re in charge of your own schedule, which is great news for those who crave flexibility and are disciplined with their time management.
However, for others, staying on track can be a real problem — this is because your tasks don’t come with a specific deadline unless you say so.
For many freelancers, setting clear expectations and goals is the best way to keep your eyes on the prize and avoid dreaded procrastination.
But that’s not to say you should over-exert yourself with unachievable targets. Instead, use your goals to help reach the best version of yourself on a daily basis.
Enter SMART goals — an efficient way to set targeted goals as a freelancer:
- Specific: focus on the outcome you want to achieve
- Measurable: track your progress using an online tool or spreadsheet
- Achievable: avoid procrastination by setting manageable goals
- Relevant: tailor your goals to client work
- Time-bound: set checkpoints and dates to observe your progress
For example, setting SMART goals such as becoming a more productive writer by hitting sensible, yet efficient time targets by a certain date will help you stay focused on reaching that next level of professionalism.
A top tip to help you reach these SMART goals is to approach things at your own pace...
Some people like to do small tasks first and build their way up; others like to get stuck into a large project first thing in the morning. After all, finding your groove depends on when your brain is feeling most active and engaged with the day.
Build a professional and focused home office
As a freelance marketer, your workspace is a base of operations that intertwines itself with your productivity. If your desk isn’t optimized for work then neither are you, which can also be a leading cause of procrastination.
Not having the right equipment makes your job frustrating and feel much harder than it needs to be, so successful freelancers elevate their setup to include professional quality equipment that aids efficiency instead of hindering productivity.
But given many freelancers won’t have access to an office space flush with technology, nor a bottomless budget to renovate their home space — it's important to be tactical about your upgrades.
As such, you should focus on adding small, functional tweaks that make you feel more comfortable and focused during the day. Here are a few popular examples:
- Bluetooth keyboard: for better flexibility and ergonomic typing
- LED lightbox: for combating light deprivation and winter blues
- Laptop stand: for matching the monitor to your line of sight
- PC/Mac docking station: for essential device connectivity and functionality
Making your workstation more professional doesn’t have to be expensive, but the tools you include have to benefit your experience at work — this way you can feel more focused on tasks and avoid being tempted by procrastination.
Remove distractions and schedule regular (timed) breaks
As a freelancer, you likely work at home or use some kind of small office space on your own, so a large part of combating procrastination is about practicing self-discipline and creating a powerful daily practice with your work environment.
Many successful freelancers believe an important part of this ritual is about removing distractions and rewarding yourself with small, yet well-earned breaks.
Focus and balance are the names of the game when it comes to freelance marketing, you need to be on the ball and eliminate distractions, while also respecting the boundaries of work and downtime.
Start by removing obvious external distractions like smartphones and televisions from your vicinity. After all, it can be all too tempting to scroll through social and switch on your favorite Netflix show on the grounds of needing background noise.
On some days when procrastinating is a real and present problem, you can use a concentration technique called the Pomodoro method — a period of time (25-30 minutes) committed to work, followed by a short five-minute break.
The Pomodoro technique is effective because it helps you:
- Combat distractions: it keeps you in the moment and stops the mind wandering
- Become more aware of time: it allows you to accurately represent time and effort
- Gamify your productivity: it motivates you to rise to a challenge and improve
Consciously using this method makes it easier to give procrastination the boot — or if this sounds too complicated, you can always schedule short breaks to split particular long or mentally taxing tasks and disrupt the pattern of procrastination.
Finding your habit for procrastination is costing you clients and impeding your ability to produce effective campaigns? As a freelance marketer, you need to stay focused and keep your finger on the pulse.
While we all get distracted from time to time, you need to be aware of when it’s going too far and know how to refocus your attention. From setting smart goals to removing distractions and upgrading your workspace — avoiding procrastination takes a conscious effort.