When I first started my business, I was surprised that getting clients and making a decent income — the things I feared most — weren’t all that difficult. Instead, the thing that plagued me was actually pretty simple: finding the motivation to actually do the work I’d been given. It might sound ridiculous, but after chatting with enough freelancers, I can tell you this: it’s a common problem. Nowadays, I’m able to get A LOT more done (even when I totally don’t feel like it!). Today’s tips are lessons I learned over the past year (the hard way), which have drastically increased my productivity, motivation, and will to get shit done. Leh do dis.
Figure out what you’re afraid of.
When I first started out, I had a subconscious fear that my work was going to take a looooong time to finish. Someone wants a new blog design? BRB, see you in a year! I’d built up unreasonable fears about how long the work would take to do and in turn, pushed it off over and over again.
My solution? I wrote out how long I thought each item on my to-do list would take and then I timed myself! I was shocked (shocked!) when my estimates were often 2-3 times longer than the task actually took. It was incredibly motivating to see how quickly I was able to work. This simple activity helped me prioritize my days ever since. What’s really holding you back from doing your work? Fear of how long it will take? Too much pride about not being able to deliver something spectacular enough? The answer might reveal a whole lot!
Use the 20-Second Rule
Want to get shit done? Make it 20 seconds easier to do. In The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor describes a simple strategy for developing better habits and doing things even when we don’t feel motivated. Achor says, “Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.” So the next time you decide to skip the gym? Try laying out your workout gear the night before.
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Cut yourself off from social media.
It’s no wonder we can’t get things done when we spend hours of everyday staring mindlessly at a screen that magically sends us funny pictures and updates from our friends. (If given the choice between work and text from dog, one will always choose text from dog). Make it easier on yourself and tune out of social media. Turn off notifications on your phone. Set specific times that you’re allowed to check social media sites (and ONLY check at these times). I think you’ll find that when you hush the chatter of the online world, you’re able to get back into the groove of that pesky to-do list that’s been giving you side eyes since last week.
Recognize when you’re at the top of your game.
Dudes. I am pretty useless in the late afternoon. Awhile back, I used to start my day with emails, social media, and small, mindless tasks, which meant that I was doing The Big Stuff in the afternoon…when I was tired and not functioning at my best. Figure out when you feel and work your best and then do all of the things that take the most brain power during those times. Twitter can wait. Promise.
I’ll be honest, rewards never worked for me, but I do know they work for other people. Tell yourself that once you finish X, you can have/do Y. Another alternative is to reward yourself with something (like a small piece of candy) whenever you knock an item off your to-do list.
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Organize that hot mess of yours.
There is nothing less motivating to me than a completely messy desk. Luckily, this is a simple fix! Spend 15 minutes organizing your work area and cleaning up all that shiz of yours. When your work space is clear, your mind is clear.
I thought we’d end on an inspirational note. 😉 But seriously, some days you’re just not going to feel it and pushing yourself to work when you absolutely CAN’T will probably only result in mediocre results and even more overwhelm. Play hooky for the day or a few hours. Relax. Take a freakin’ break. Try a few things from this list. I promise you’ll feel a whole lot better tomorrow, you little hustler you.