Loss of attention from a project whilst working as a freelancer is normal, commonly known as procrastination. There are many distractions just waiting for your attention to drop. And before you know it – you’ve rearranged your entire kitchen, much to the dismay of your husband…
So how do you avoid procrastination?
- First you need an understanding of what causes procrastination. Psychologically, your brain is hardwired to stray from tasks it understands to be either physically or psychologically demanding.
- Therefore, it is easy to find yourself doing a million other tasks instead of the one which you’re required to complete. Worse, you may not be productively procrastinating. Instead, staring into space idly playing with a pen.
- Either way, productive (I needed to sort those kitchen cupboards for months…) or unproductive procrastination (zombie daydreaming) is still avoidance and denial of the task you need to complete.
Create a sense of urgency
- A sense of urgency always helps us actually do work. Nothing quite adds to your sense of urgency as knowing a piece of work is urgently required. Without a constant push towards a deadline, you will become relaxed and melt into a false sense of security.
- To prevent yourself from falling into this mind frame, don’t give yourself the chance. Take small steps in completing the work. Construct a mental checklist of what you have to complete and by when. This will cut a big project into smaller tasks, all with their own deadlines. Such action prevents you from feeling daunted by the magnitude of the task, resulting in – well, you must’ve guessed by now.
- Another method to prevent yourself becoming overwhelmed which leads to procrastination, is to remember why you’re writing the piece. This can go one of two ways as a freelancer. Either a) you feel really passionate about the project and completing it will give you a great sense of achievement. Or more commonly b) you need to pay your bills. Whenever starting a project, remember your reasoning and goal. Otherwise you will lack the incentive to continue.
- Keep to a schedule with regular, short breaks. Create timetables and ensure to discipline yourself into making timetabling a daily habit.
- To prevent daydreaming from creeping in, take regular breaks away from your work.Take a walk, have a bite to eat – do anything to momentarily detach from work. However, don’t take too long a break from work, else you may easily fall into the dreaded trap of – you guessed it! The classic Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. This suggests using a timer to break down work and break sessions. Traditionally you work for 25 minutes, then have a short break followed by high bursts of 25 minute work sessions. Many people swear by this method.
- Ok, so you’ve put off the work, the deadline is nye and you’re starting to feel sick – just change your outlook on the situation. Feeling overcome with emotions of anger, guilt and wretchedness due to your prior procrastination achieves exactly squat. At times like these, guilt and regret will mentally drain you. If procrastination has led to your deadline nearing at speed you feel unable to control, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Just get on with the work. Allowing emotions to cloud your vision means you won’t be writing at your best. Just start writing, the minute you let yourself get into the work, the words will come and you’ll be into the swing.
As a whole, it’s easy to fall into a momentary lapse of distraction. However by following these steps, procrastination will become a thing of the past. You’ll have no issues in producing great copy and avoiding heart palpations!
If all else fails…
If you’re still overwhelmed and find yourself in a state of procrastination, at least make sure you’re doing something of use. Send out emails, work on your website, market yourself; just ensure your procrastination becomes productive!