MAINTAINING MOTIVATION AND INSPIRATION
as a freelancer
It’s no secret that being a freelancer is a pretty sweet deal. You get to work remotely, be that in a co-working space, a cosy cafe or some exotic beach in the Bahamas; you set your own working hours; you get to build your business by doing something you enjoy; and best of all, you get to be your own boss!
That being said, the latter can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse; a blessing because you’ve got nobody but your clients to answer to, and a curse because if you ever go through a motivational or inspirational slump and your productivity plummets, you’ve only got yourself to rely on get you back on track.
So what can you do to try to get yourself in peak performance mode? Here’s a couple of things I’ve found can really influence my day and working method – perhaps these ideas can help you too!
Get up and get dressed
Sounds simple enough, right? And you do it almost every day! Give or take a lazy Sunday where pyjamas are the only acceptable form of clothing, getting up and dressed for the day can really help put you in the right frame of mind for work. That’s not to say you have to “dress for success” (good god, I hate that saying…) in a shirt, skirt, trousers, tie or an awkward combination of all four – but it does mean, wear something you’d be comfortable to meet a client in. When you’re having a low-motivation day, sometimes something as simple as this can get your mind moving in the right direction.
I live by and love a good to-do list. As I work best with visuals and making physical notes (beautifully decorated with an array of highlighter pens, might I add..), I choose to organise my workflow and projects for each day, week or month by making two separate lists. One list outlines every major project I’m working on in limited detail and a smaller, daily to-do list breaks down individual elements of those projects that need addressing over the course of that week. This working method allows me to schedule my week’s work more effectively; it keeps me focussed during the day, knowing exactly what needs to be done, and shows me gaps where I can take care of additional meetings, calls or admin.
However, if paper lists and planners aren’t your thing, never fear, there are also a variety of online project management tools out there waiting to lend a hand. Someone’s even gone ahead and done the hard work of comparing different applications for you! Check out the complete list here. (https://www.scoro.com/blog/best-project-management-software-list/)
There’s nothing quite like the stress of an inbox fit to burst to get your day off to a flying start, but what’s worse is an overwhelmed freelancer trying to answer every email as soon as it turns up. Much like anything else on your to-do list, reading and answering emails should be considered a task that needs time allocating to it, perhaps two to three times a day (e.g. when you first open your laptop, before or after lunch and towards the end of your work day).
Work out which which emails necessitate a more urgent response or an update on the status of a project and deal with those first. Anything not needing an instant reply can wait until a little later when you’ve cleared your first set of to-do’s, allowing you to stay focussed on the task at hand. Minimum distractions means maximum productivity!
“Sorry, Linda as much as I’d love to help, my opinion on which shade of beige to paint your new office might have to wait until home time”.
Believe it or not your environment can have a huge impact on how productive you are during the day and everyone will have a different preference on their setup. While for some a peaceful library corner might be ideal, others will prefer a cafe or co-working space for a more social environment and a little more background noise. What’s important is finding the environment that works best for you and usually, this can only be discovered with a little trial and error.
Personally, I’m very motivated by working around other people; whether this comes in the form of my current co-working space in Cardiff or, whilst I’m travelling, a coffee shop or public work space, naturally these are my go-to spaces for creativity. Despite the fact that I usually pop my headphones in, listen to some music and “zone out” to my surroundings, I find that I am far more productive in a busier environment and will be inspired to work, by others around me doing the same thing.
Taking a break is often a very overlooked aspect of productivity because, quite literally, it means taking a step back and not doing any work! But taking regular breaks is actually vitally important for your health and wellbeing (in my opinion). Firstly, you’ve got to eat! And what I love about my current co-working space is that taking lunch together is encouraged, rather than eating alone or working through your lunch at your desk – because we all know how easy that is when we’ve bitten off more than we can chew! Secondly, taking a break and removing yourself from a stressful or difficult situation (be that by making yourself a drink, walking around your office, getting some fresh air etc.) can actually reset and refresh your brain, enabling you to go back and tackle the problem with a clearer mindset.
I always find it amazing what stopping for a cup of tea and a chat can solve 😉
Do something different
Failing all of this, why not take the time to try something different? Inspiration and motivation comes in all forms, be that by developing a new/existing creative skill (I thoroughly enjoy hand-lettering when I get the time between projects to do it) or learning something new outside of work. This year I have taken up dance classes for Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba, which has gotten my brain thinking and working in a brand new way and has increased my energy levels. This naturally then feeds through and has an impact on my productivity in work! Winner!
Regardless of your methods, just remember, every motivational or inspirational slump is temporary and you’ll be back up and firing on all cylinders before you know it (despite the fact that it may not feel like it at the time). Remain calm and don’t put too much pressure on yourself; after all, when we’re faced with difficult and testing situations we often have a chance to grow, develop and later – flourish 😉
What do you do when you hit a creative / motivational slump?
I’d love to hear your ideas if you have any additional or different tips!
Until next time,