Preface to this post – having been here just over one month already I have spent most of the time organising paperwork, finding my way around, DIYing around the house and (at least) learning a little German. Having no internet here has been a big obstacle to my work – however, today is internet day! Hooray!! The man is here fitting a cable as I type so I figured now was a perfect time to get back into blogging and, quite ironically, finally publish this post about one of my biggest challenges.
One of the biggest concerns when transitioning to full-time freelance – for me at least – is motivation.
I’ve become so used to the routine, structure, and of course guaranteed wage, that comes with having a full-time job that I want to make sure that I put in place measures to ensure I can translate these goalpoasts into my freelance work – to bring some substance to my days.
I’m lucky to have left my job with some great contacts, and potential for future work, but I still feel there’s a danger that the days could just… slip away from me. Sometimes it seems I get stuck in the planning stage – the procrastination stage, and spend an awful lot of time working around what I want to be doing; in the vicinity of my goals but not having that push to jump in and just DO! Or to be so afraid of failure that the doubt almost paralyses you creatively and prevents you from making anything because any output becomes something that’s ‘not good enough’.
I have been working on becoming more aware of when this happens, and having a ‘side-catalogue’ of quick and playful projects to work on when I feel like I’m facing a brick wall with my design work. I find that all creative work feeds into itself anyway – doing something creative but unrelated to your goal will often allow you to spot opportunities, or inspirations that can take your main passion into a new direction.
I’ve been making sure to follow some great bits of advice that I’ve collected from various places online for a while now, so hopefully some of these links and tips below will be useful to you.
One of the most popular, and easiest to implement, methods is the NON-ZERO DAY – the simple idea that doing something each day is better than nothing, even if it’s a small easily achievable goal – it’s still something to mark off your ‘list’.
SMALL CHUNKS – break a large and daunting tasks into smaller baby-steps. If you can’t quite bring yourself to do the big thing, just spend 5 minutes doing a little thing – even if its as simple as print the form, or buy the materials – doing something to start will make you feel more accomplished and able to succeed at the difficult stuff.
I’ve found that setting a fluid TIMETABLE has been a good way to ensure that I cover all aspects of freelance work and creativity. Particularly with being out of full time work, I can devote blocks of the day to learning different skills, improving old ones, creating designs and any administration work. Having a mix of tasks can give your day variety – and it makes it easier to focus on something you struggle with for a set amount of time when you know that you have a more fun task scheduled for later in the day.
Making LISTS is both a great motivator, and a great time sink for me! A good list should have a realistic and clear goal to achieve. I find I can spend a lot of time making lists of things I want to achieve, and coming up with new ideas as I write, making a never ending list of ideas I spend more time expanding on than working on. I think I need to make a space in my week just to go through old lists and revisit all my unrealised plans! Just be realistic in what you can achieve in a day, and make sure to prioritise tasks that are more important. Breaking up a long project into bullet point lists spread over a few days can also help reduce the panic of last minute deadlines.
The X-EFFECT is a straightforward little trick to keep a track of and incentivise any habits you want to build, for example spending time each day learning a language, or drinking more water. Simply make a grid with a block for every day (or week) you want to complete the task, and mark each box with an X as you go – really simple, but the satisfaction of a full grid can be a great incentive to avoid skipping a day!