When you work for yourself, distractions happen. It can’t be helped. In fact, I’ve gone radio silent for the past month or so because of my own set of distractions, primarily my clients. (A great distraction to have, mind you.)
Over the course of the month, my business has grown considerably, and in very extraordinary ways. I’ve had to overcome a few obstacles, but am now back on track to maintain a regular, sane person’s schedule.
In light of that, I thought I’d take a minute to remind you (and myself) of the distractions you may face as a freelancer. No matter whether you’re a writer, a graphic designer or a dog walker, you’re going to have to navigate a few obstacles.
Freelance Distraction #1 – Your Clients
Everyone loves a good client. Some good clients are very hands off, giving you total flexibility in what you write, when you write it and how long it takes you to write. Other good clients take a more one on one approach, occasionally asking for progress updates and checking in. Still others are the clients who become your acquaintances, colleagues or friends. Clients like these check in with you – not to see how work’s going, but to make sure the auto repair shop had the right size tire for your car.
Of course, there are challenging clients, as well. That said, the more challenging set will only be a distraction for a while. You’ll eventually break up with them, and those negative distractions will be eliminated.
No matter which category your client falls into, you’ll sometimes find that your clients are distractions.
Conversations, progress reports and even billing issues can take time out of your day. Your best bet is to gauge the importance of the communication, measuring it against your workload. Not important? Explain to your client that you’re on a deadline. Important? Prioritize it, and take the call.
Freelance Distraction #2 – Too Much Work
In my humble and honest opinion, there’s no such thing as too much work. I’ve never found myself in a situation where I took on more work than I could handle, even though at times it felt that way. I always manage to get it all done, and on time.
That said, a large workload can be a huge distraction to you as a freelancer. You’ll look at your to do list, begin to feel woozy, and either faint or crawl back in bed. You may find yourself having difficulty beginning your day, because you don’t know where to start first.
My advice to you is just do it. You’ve got to start somewhere – just sit down at your desk (or wherever you write) and start working. As a freelancer, you have the flexibility of being able to flip flop your way through projects. If something doesn’t appeal to you at that particular moment, do something different.
Don’t let the abundance of work overwhelm ad distract you – count your blessings and get to work.
Freelance Distraction #3 – Too Little Work
Conversely, too little work can be distracting. I’ve long held that you need to do a bit of marketing every single day, and I still maintain that. Even though, as I recently told a client, my dance card is full at the moment, I’m always trolling the boards for new opportunities.
Too little work, though, can sometimes equate to a day off. Don’t fall into the trap. Yes, as a freelancer, you’ve got the flexibility to take a day off here and there. You don’t have to ask anyone. But ask yourself: should you be taking steps toward signing new contracts? Is there something you could do today that would offer career enrichment?
Usually, the answer to both questions is YES.
Don’t let a lack of work lead to career stagnation.
Freelance Distraction #4 – The Structure of Your Work Day
Or, in other words, the lack of structure in your work day.
I’ll keep this short and sweet:
If you don’t treat your job like a career, it will never become one.
Get up. Get dressed. Eat breakfast, make your coffee, whatever you want to do. Take a walk if that’s your thing. But be sure you’re started with your work day by a set time every. Single. Morning. Then, don’t stop until you’re done.
Set goals for each day. You may choose to outline a list of clients you’ll need to handle that day, or you might aim for a particular word count goal. Whatever your objective, stick to it.