Centering your attention throughout the workday can be a difficult process. You need to truly love your work and cherish the time you spend. Unfortunately not all of us can feel this way 100% of the time.
Freelancers are often given tasks related to concepts they care nothing about. In this regard there isn't much compassion to put into your work. So how do you keep yourself motivated and on-task? I've put together just a few ideas which you may try to follow throughout the day. The sooner you complete work the easier it is to move onto the next task. Keep your mind in-check and always pay attention to what you're focusing on!
Take Infrequent Breaks
To start off with this suggestion seems like I'm advocating slacking off. But honestly breaking from your work every so often is possibly the most important choice you could make.
It's simply not healthy to stare at a monitor for 5-7 hours in a row. This is especially true if you're churning out monotonous work in graphics design software or a programming IDE. Even a 5-10 minute period of stretching and walking around will give your mind some clarity. You'll feel a lot more level-headed sitting down again and tackling projects.
Some people require more frequent breaks than others. I cannot truly offer a distinct set amount of time, so just feel it out for yourself. I like to break every 60-90 minutes after completing a large chunk of work. This gives me plenty of motivation when sitting down again to hit the next task on my list.
Work in Smaller Intervals
The best way to kill motivation is to start over-analyzing each of your daily tasks. If you spend 20 minutes going over what needs to get done you'll feel majorly overwhelmed. A tasks list is only handy when it can be accomplished in bite-sized chunks.
The best advice here is to jump right into it! Don't waste any time in the morning except to glance over your to-dos. Start with the important stuff and just bang it out as efficiently as possible. I also recommend waiting to check off tasks until a later time in the day. It takes away focus to move back-and-forth between your to-do list and real actual work.
Follow the End Game
Ultimately your motivation can stem from the reasons behind why you're working. If your current project is for a paycheck then use that energy. Everybody needs to get paid to make a living!
It can be a bit more difficult with high-priority projects as stress is an added factor. Keep cool and follow through with smaller tasks one at a time. Whether freelancing or working on a personal project all designers will hit a wall sooner or later. However don't let this creative block discourage you.
I use this time as an extra break session from the workday. I'll go and throw on TV or call to chat with a friend or colleague. The only time I would force through the work is creating on deadlines - which at the end of the day is about money.
Find your own end game within each project and use this as the ultimate source of motivation. What is your bottom-line finishing point? And how quickly can you get to this point without too much struggle? Ask yourself these questions before taking on a project so you have an idea of how much work may be required.
Another huge deal-breaker to losing motivation is over analyzing too much. When you try to perfect each work it takes a lot longer to achieve any results. This can be fruitful when you have a lot of compassion towards a project idea.
But you can't expect perfection out of every artistic work you create. And this is especially true when you need to design for a living. Not all freelance projects can wait for your stroke of creative genius to kick in as unfortunate deadlines loom. Try to put aside ego and just get the work done. You'll feel a lot better having something to look at rather than a blank slate.
This also gives the illusion of accomplishment even if you feel the work is sub-par. It's generally much easier to go back and correct work you've already made than to build something entirely new from scratch. Take this lesson to heart and you will not have trouble cranking out loads of successful projects.
Get Plenty of Sleep!
In a similar domain as taking frequent breaks you need sleep to function properly. I can't think of a single designer or web developer who has felt good running on barely any sleep.
Now I'm certainly in favor of pulling an all-nighter every so often as necessary. When you have projects piled up to the ceiling it can feel beneficial to work all the way into the wee hours of the morning. But this isn't a strategy you can incorporate into your "normal" weekly schedule. Get to bed at a decent time and start working on projects earlier - this should give you a bit of extra time in the afternoon to build on your own ideas.
Motivation is key to the success of any business model. You'll need to dedicate yourself to getting work done and moving forward even just a tiny bit each day. Luckily with so many handy web tools it's never been easier to jump-start a new project.
But it is still a difficult scenario trying to force out creative work. When you can't flow with creativity you often have to resort to mindful tactics of tricking yourself into motivation. This can be invigorated through money, connections, branding, promotion, or a dozen other self-rewards. Stay true to yourself and never lose sight of the end goal. Life seems to always have a way of working itself out perfectly.
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