It’s ironic that I would be posting this on a day that I got very little accomplished, after two days of not posting in a month-daily-posting challenge I’ve set myself. But life is full of hypocrisy. Truth be told, I just found this fully-written article in my Google Drive from a few months ago. Turns out I needed to remind myself of some of these things just now, so enjoy a brief break from travel posts. Those should be back tomorrow.
I make my living on the internet, working for a variety of different sites and companies, which means making my own hours and picking my own work. This is great in many ways, but it’s easy to struggle from…lack of motivation.
The number one comment I get from friends and family about my style of work is, “that sounds great, but I need more structure to get stuff done.”
And the truth is, I am not innately better at making my own structure than they are. I just have picked up a few little tidbits to help me work around my own caveman brain that just wants to eat, sleep, and laze about all day.
Step 1: Productive Procrastination
I’m procrastinating RIGHT NOW. I am very good at procrastination. If anyone needs any tips or tricks on how to better procrastinate, just lemme know.
In all seriousness, procrastination can be a friendly force if you leverage it correctly. Instead of putting off that looming task with a YouTube or Twitter rabbit hole, stall by learning a new skill or completing a less daunting task that’s still productive. Just don’t procrastinate from your productive procrastination, because that’s a sneaky spiral you can’t get out of.
Step 2: The Starvation Motivator
One thing that my loved ones don’t seem to understand is that when this is my job, I will starve if I don’t do it. Nothing inspires hustle like impending bills and a strong desire to buy fancy cheese every time you step into a supermarket. Or is that just me?
Step 3: Set Early Appointments
I am not in a place in my career where I have a lot of “appointments” exactly, so for me this looks a bit different. I set out a loaf of bread to rise overnight that needs to be tended to around 7 or 8 the next morning. That means that if I don’t get up in time, all my hopes and dreams for freshly baked deliciousness will die with the millions of microorganisms that helped the dough rise.
If you can get to the point in the sleep-wake cycle where you can move and communicate on the basic level, get a cup of coffee percolating and sit down to do basic tasks that don’t require perfection on the first draft or other high-level quality. At this stage of wakefulness, set yourself in motion, and basic inertia will carry you forward into a productive day.
Step 4: Create Structure in the Day
Schedules make me almost as panicky as the thought of working a traditional 9-5, which is why I got myself into this mess (I mean “career”!) in the first place. However, they are pretty important. The benefit of being freelance, of course, is that I get to skip the commute and structure the day how I want. But the more I set intentions in each section of my day, the more likely I am to work when I want to.
Step 5: Vary Your Workplace
Probably the best thing about freelancing is the freedom to work in bed, in my pajamas if I so choose. However, my desire to sleep sometimes outweighs my desire to do anything else. Thanks, caveman brain!
I have a desk, I have a kitchen table, I have a cozy carpet with lots of pillows, but sometimes, in spite of the initial desire to work from home that got me into this field in the first place, home just doesn’t cut it.
At that point, the cluttered coffee table, dish-piled sink, horrifyingly filthy bathroom, all start taunting me with a siren call of (in this case) unproductive procrastination. If this happens to you, don’t stay! Go! That’s what coffee shops are for. Libraries. Other places where coffee is served. Hang out in your local Barnes & Noble or the food court at Target. Any place where the employees are not likely to mind a slightly-grubby, hungry-looking waif camping out for hours on end.
Hi! This is part seven in my month of March daily blogging. Click here to check out my sentimental description of my favorite Angkor temples that aren’t Angkor Wat. Or here to see a discussion of some of my worst grammar gripes. To join the betting pool on how long it will take me to miss ANOTHER day of posting this month click here! Just kidding. That’s my Instagram account, which you should absolutely follow if you enjoy travel porn and writing inspiration.