3 Rules for Staying Focused as a Freelancer

Article written by: A Humble Writer from India (His words, not mine)

Freelancing is not for the faint-hearted; you are up one day, down the next. The uncertainty of it all can be devastating. Yes, freelancing means freedom from nagging bosses and an escape from the 9-to-5 routine – but there is such as thing as too much freedom .

As a freelancer, you can choose to do whatever you like with your time. You can work 10-12 hours a day, complete a project and get paid handsomely for your efforts.

Or, you can just spend the entire day on Twitter, trolling celebs and getting outraged over the latest political event. And if Twitter isn’t enough, there’s Netflix too, everybody’s favorite time waster and productivity killer.

Of course, you may have your own personal time wasters and productivity killers – YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, CNN, Fox News or whatever. I’m not going to judge you for that, or maybe I am!

That’s why, for me, the biggest challenge as a freelancer is to maintain focus. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when you’re in front your laptop all day long. So, how to get away from all distractions, stay motivated, stop procrastinating and develop focus?

3 Rules for Staying Focused as a Freelancer

Rule #1: No Distractions When You’re Working.

Maintain regular working hours, it could be in the morning, afternoon or in the evening. It doesn’t really matter when you work as long as you stick to the schedule. And yes, make this a rule – no internet browsing when you’re working. As simple as that.

Don’t go running off to The Huffington Post or Facebook when you’re in the middle of a project. Get rid of distractions, stay away from the social media. In fact, don’t use the social media unless it’s for a professional purpose.

Remember: Your laptop is for work and work alone. You can catch up with whatever is happening around the world after your work hours, if you really need to.

Rule #2: Stop Following the News.

One of the best pieces of advice I got from Tim Ferriss’ book, “The 4-Hour Workweek” was to simply stop following the news.

Just ignore politics, get rid of your stock market app, and stop watching CNN, Fox News, MSNBC or whatever. Yes, stop subscribing to newspapers and magazines, stop visiting new media sites such as Breitbart.com, Buzzfeed.com and HuffingtonPost.com.

Ferriss calls this the “ Low Information Diet .” He says there is no reason for anyone to watch the news. All it does is build your stress and anxiety levels, making you worry about the future of the world and things you have nothing to do with. The world will take care of itself, just focus on your work, or the things you control. That is all matters.

Rule #3: Do the Simple Things Right.

In his 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan Peterson talks about getting the simple things right to transform your life – make your bed, clean up your room, wash your dishes. Go on a quick early morning run (or maybe go to a gym), have a quick shower after that and start work with a fresh mind.

The point Professor Peterson makes is that cleaning the room and organizing your external environment is correlated to having an uncluttered mind, one that is free from stress and tension.

You cannot really focus on work when there are too many thoughts running through your mind, when you’re confused or worried– and that is what happens when your external environment is chaotic. As Professor Peterson says, make your bed, clean your room .

I tried to tell this writer I know once that every time you write, you subconsciously impregnate whatever you are writing with your mood, sentiments, etc. He was all, “Nope not me!” However, it is very true and this is why certain distractions should be avoided.

That said, switching off the news and building a digital moat around your desk, isn’t always good when freelancing. i.e. As a crypto writer, I need to be immersed in not just crypto news, but mainstream financial news, even politics. Also, it is a good idea when writing to always research the most trending news/insights regarding your subject matter. Linkedin is a good resource for this. - Especially with regard to things like digital marketing and productivity.

I’d say, don’t be a closed empire of information when working. Instead, simply be more selective when choosing your news and social media platforms. Definitely ditch FB, though.

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but there is such a thing as too much freedom .

Yeah, now go check the typos on the other one. :slight_smile: