Guest post by John Mak
If you’re a freelance writer, or if you’re interested in becoming a freelance writer, then you’ve probably had some interesting conversations with your friends and family. Most of them probably expressed surprise & concern over whether or not you can actually make a living from the work. Most of them probably expressed the wish that they’d be able to leave the 9-5 for good and all too. Being able to escape the office is one of the biggest perks to freelance writing but it can also be a mixed blessing. Completing work on time without the structure of a normal workday and without the constant pressure of having a boss can be difficult to say the least. Read on and learn a few tips to help you get your work done without a boss.
Create a Routine
When you first started freelance writing you probably felt a little drunk with freedom and enjoyed getting your work done whenever you wanted, wherever you wanted. This is a healthy and natural phase to go through but ultimately you’ll find more success and satisfaction by creating some predictable work patterns to stick with. Find some environments where you know you complete good writing and make them your make-shift office. Determine what times suit your work-flow and personal life best and get your work done during those hours.
I know what you’re saying- you don’t want to work hard to escape the office to just create another one about yourself! This is a valid concern, but keep in mind that the real freedom of successful freelancing is the freedom to control your time and environment. You’ll do better with a routine and you’ll be much happier & productive if you determine that routine yourself instead of having one imposed on you.
It’s much easier to stay focused when you have pre-determined “work hours” than if you just wing it.
Construct Small Productivity Goals
When you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck you need to conquer the temptation to browse Facebook all day or to put all of your work off until the last minute. Heck, even with a boss breathing down their neck most employees aren’t able to conquer these impulses! The key to starting your work on time and staying focused on it lies in setting small productivity goals for yourself.
These goals can be a function of time or a function of your work itself. For example you can set a timer for an hour and then see how much writing you can get done with a focused hour of work. When the hour is done you can then indulge a time waster or two before setting the clock for another hour and getting back to work. You can also set a small goal, such as writing a single article with complete focus, to break up your work day in a more specific manner.
Creating these small goals makes success easy for two reasons. Small goals aren’t intimidating. It’s easier to say you won’t check Twitter for an hour than saying you won’t check it all day. Breaking up your day into focused periods of work and playing around also removes the impulse to constantly indulge those time wasters. Knowing that you’ll be able to indulge them soon enough is often all you need to comfortably postpone getting your social media fix until you can get some real work done.
Turn Off the Information Stream
Speaking of social media you’re never going to get any work done if you’re constantly plugged into it. Turn off all desktop notifications providing you with a constant feed of updates, tweets and other minor & inconsequential bits of information. Even with the above structures it’s impossible to focus on work when you have a window running in the corner of your screen all day long. Putting your cell phone on silent and setting it somewhere you can’t see it (like in your bag) is also a necessary action for focused work.
One easy way to disconnect from the information stream is to just work somewhere without internet. Pull up all the research and information you need and then do your actual writing where you don’t get a signal. Consider leaving your phone at home and staying in this distraction-free zone for at least a few hours every work day. Bring some sort of release (like a book) that you can engage with on your micro-breaks but otherwise do everything you can to make this disconnected space about focused work and focused work alone.
It’s Easier Than You Think
Staying focused without a boss may sound impossible at first but implementing these few simple adjustments to your work day makes it a snap. Don’t be surprised, after implementing these tips, when you find that you’re far more productive without a boss than you ever were with one! Bosses tend to be good at getting their employees to spin on the wheel and they are often lousy at helping employees manage and prioritize their time & attention effectively.
Use your newfound freedom to get more done with less time and you’ll never think twice about returning to the office and your old boss.