The benefits of working for yourself are bountiful. You get to go to the beach, work in your pajamas and complete tasks whenever you see fit. However this privilege comes with plenty of responsibility. Writing without deadlines is challenging, even for experienced writers. It can be difficult to complete multiple projects or meet deadlines when there’s no one else involved, but it isn’t impossible. Here are some tips that will help you maintain a productive workspace:
1) Write The Night Before
It sounds odd at first, but writing the night before an assignment works well for me. I’m much less likely to procrastinate if I know exactly what I need to do the next day, even if it means staying up late. Once you start doing this, it becomes much easier to fall asleep.
2) Create A Daily Writing Schedule
Work like the corporate world for a few days and block out specific hours for work or you can look at your assignments and schedule writing time accordingly. I prefer the latter because I don’t want to limit myself unnecessarily. For example, if I have to write three articles today, then by all means I will write them in one sitting. Don’t be afraid of working on multiple projects at once. Some writers find that collaborating with other freelancers helps them get more done faster. You may also consider hiring an assistant especially if you are just starting out. Working with another person is an excellent way to share ideas and divide work equally plus assistants are great for editing, formatting and research.
3) Make Time For Distractions
It’s easy to let distractions get in the way of your daily schedule. Give yourself a time limit for checking emails or social media then return to writing ASAP. You know how it goes: you check Twitter, look at Facebook status updates and find yourself wondering what friends are up to. A few minutes can turn into an hour quickly when you aren’t paying close enough attention to the clock. Don’t forget about family members either; they may want your attention too (I don’t like this part). And finally if you need more motivation try finding a productive buddy who will hold you accountable for staying on task or compete against each other with word counts etc.
4) Create A Motivating Workspace
It’s important to have a place where you can sit down and write without distractions. If your home is too noisy or unappealing, consider working at the public library once in awhile. I actually do most of my writing in our bedroom with noise-canceling headphones on so I can focus better. Working in your pajamas isn’t recommended unless that’s what motivates you (I’m not judging). Decorate this space with inspiring photos, quotes etc. whatever it takes to keep you focused when you’re feeling unmotivated.
5) Take Frequent Breaks
Writers are known for marathon work sessions but don’t fall into this trap! You need time away from the computer to give your brain a break, stretch your legs and get the blood flowing. I usually go for short walks around the neighborhood when I feel stuck or take a few minutes to clean my desk or read an article in Writer’s Digest . Return to work with fresh eyes and better focus so you can maximize your time.
6) Avoid Distractions When You’re Writing
Turn off your cell phone and email notifications while you write because there will be plenty of time to call grandma later on. Disconnect from social media unless you need an idea for an assignment (social media is great for that). If all else fails, try using StayFocused , which blocks certain websites during designated times each day. It’s kind of like hiring someone to tell you what to do so you can get some work done.
7) Take Advantage Of Your Distractions
It’s the easiest way to kill time when you’re feeling unproductive, so I suggest planning distractions in advance. For example, I’ve just finished writing my daily blog post for Write To Done . Now that it’s published, I’m going to check Twitter and Facebook before moving on to another assignment. Productivity experts find that this type of “pre-work” reduces the amount of time wasted later on when clients, colleagues or friends contact you with “quick questions.” A few minutes here and there add up quickly!
8) Reward Yourself When You Finish Projects
When you complete your current project, give yourself a reward or at least something to look forward to. Right now I’m going to send my short story to the editor and then reward myself by watching TV with Hubby. Or, you can use that time to apply for new gigs or prepare pitches for other editors etc. It’s important not to rely on your reward as motivation alone because sometimes you may not feel like doing anything afterwards (I don’t like this part either).