Freelance Writers: 5 Tips on How to Beat Procrastination (at Least Most of the Time)

Have coffee, make bed, get dressed, answer email, check social media. Is it 11 a.m. already?! Jeez! Never is the value of time more evident than when you have your own freelance business. It is one of those resources that when wasted, you never get back.

Freelance Writers: 5 Tricks I Use to Beat Procrastination

When you work for someone else, it’s easy to stick to a schedule. Training yourself to do this when you are self-employed is another matter altogether – especially in the beginning. Here are five tips to keep you on track so you can successfully grow your freelance business.

1. Routine: Develop one and stick to it.

When you freelance, you learn the value of calendearing your days pretty quickly. There are so many things to keep track of. If you don’t write them down, you are bound to forget something. However, there should always be one or two income-producing things that you do every day — no matter what.

Before I pay the bills, open e-mail (a major time killer) or check social media (another major time suck), I finish one money-generating task a day. That’s five a week, 20 a month, 240 a year.

Depending on your product or service, a 1% or 2% return can be sufficient to keep your freelance business chugging along very nicely.

These can include reaching out to an old client; sending out a batch of emails to some cold prospects; calling a warm prospect; placing some ads for my ebooks/classes on backpage; etc.

Completing one money-generating task a day keeps me in the habit of thinking “marketing (ie, money)” first. After all, this is why you do everything else.

2. Life: Ignore it.

Most freelance writers’ lives are intricately intertwined with their business. Attending to non-business issues during the course of “working hours” can become the norm if you’re not careful. Going to the grocery store, picking up the dry cleaning, returning books to the library – handle during non-working hours.

If it’s not conducive to your business, ignore it. This is why it’s important to designate a work area where you can’t see the piles of laundry, dirty dishes and scattered magazines.

3. Family, friends and others: Pretend you don’t have any.

Others might expect you to devote more time to causes and activities when you work for yourself. This is particularly true if you work from home. If you don’t already know it, you’ll soon discover that you really have less time, especially in the beginning. Running a freelance writing business is really two or three jobs rolled into one.

Do not feel guilty about saying “No!”

4. Procrastination.

 The national rain forest of Brazil has been cut down to accommodate the books devoted to this subject. To save some trees today, I’ll just say – stop it. If you realize that you have a pattern of doing everything but the one thing you should be doing, then do that one thing first.

That way, if you do nothing else, your primary goal will have been accomplished for the day.

5. Self-doubt: Examine it and get rid of it.

Beyond simple procrastination, many of us have a deep-seated fear of success and/or failure. So, we tackle tasks that seem important, e.g., paying bills, researching blog post ideas, updating our website, etc. However, that one task that needs our attention (marketing) keeps getting pushed backed.

Confront your issue. Ask yourself why you keep putting it off. Be brutally honest. Write down answers that instantly come to mind. At first, you will probably respond with a simple, eg, “I just don’t like to do that.” Or, “It takes too long.” Or, “I don’t really know how to do it and I hate trying to figure it out.

Dig deeper. Keep asking why, monitoring how you feel as you go along. Usually, an answer that you weren’t even aware of will resound within you. When it does, be brave enough to acknowledge, confront and deal with it.

Unlike outside fears, the fears that lurk within are the most dangerous. Don’t let them stand in the way of your freelance writing success.

Thomas Jefferson said, “If you love life, do not waste time. For that is what life is made of.” So, beware of mismanaged time and its true cost – an unfulfilled life.

Now, what should you be doing besides reading this post that you’re putting off? GET TO IT — NOW!

Note: This post has been revised/updated. It was originally published in September 2009 and entitled, The True Cost of Procrastination: How Much Is Your Time Really Worth?

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