Losing your mojo sucks – especially if that mojo is what’s bringing in the money at the end of the month.
Working freelance is incredible for so many reasons, but freelancers can suffer from dips in their motivation just as much as your typical employees can.
If (like me) you’ve ever worked an office job before, you’ll put your hand up and admit that there were a couple of days where you just found it really hard to motivate yourself.
When you’re master of your own time (and of your own income) these dips in motivation can feel even more de-motivating. But I’m following my dream, you scream in your head. What’s wrong with me?!
The answer is: nothing. This is normal. You are normal.
And you can overcome these dips, just like you overcame the rest.
It’s very easy to beat yourself up about this, to bully yourself when you procrastinate or eek out that deadline.
But that’s not helpful.
So here are some helpful things you can do to rejuvenate yourself and get back into the swing of things:
1. Try and figure out what’s caused your dip
This involves a bit of self-reflection, which might feel uncomfortable (or not, depending on how au fait you are with meditation!)
It might be a particular piece of work that’s getting you down, it might be that you haven’t spent enough time on your own projects. You know. The ones you don’t get paid for.
If it’s the fact you haven’t connected with your creative side, turn your focus to your own projects for a period of time. I’m not telling you to ignore deadlines you’ve promised to clients or to let your work build up to unmanageable levels, but carve out some time for you. This is easy to forget when your a freelancer as often, paid work is the priority. Try getting up a half-hour earlier and spending that time solely on your projects (preferably before your clients wake up and fire up their emails.)
2. Get some advice from like-minded individuals
Freelancers are solitary creatures, by nature. We sit at our computers and we write, or we draw, or design, or create, often without the input of others.
Why not sign up to one of LinkedIn’s freelancer network, or join a group on Facebook to find people in the same boat as you.
Sometimes, hearing someone else is having the same problem as you makes it feel more acceptable. That’s how the problem goes from being a big one to a not-so-big one.
3. Take some time out
I know, I know. We get to go and sit in coffee shops at 11am! We don’t get holidays!
Your work is your work, and just like an office job will exhaust you, so will doing something you love. You need to make sure you take some time for yourself. You’re allowed leave, too.
You’ve just got to plan it a little better.
4. Make sure you’re getting the basics right
Often not enough sleep, a poor diet, and a lack of exercise will exacerbate problems (especially if, like me, you get regular visits from everyone’s favourite friend: anxiety.)
If you’re experiencing a dip, take a look at your calendar.
Have you been burning the candle at both ends? Have you been making sure you’re eating enough? Drinking enough water? Sleeping enough?
Often the simplest solution is the best one (I’m sure someone famous said that, but I can’t remember who. Smart person, whoever they are.)
5. Adopt a carrot and stick approach to the tasks you don’t want to do
We all take on projects from time to time that we wish we hadn’t and they seem to take over your whole life.
When that happens, I like to adopt a carrot and stick approach.
For every task I complete of x project, I give myself a treat.
Sometimes that treat is spending half an hour on my book, or on my own blog. Sometimes that treat is a cinema ticket or going and doing some activity with friends.
Whatever it is, it has to be something that makes you tick. Something that makes you want to finish that 259-page report into the different materials used to build garden sheds.*
6. Remind yourself why you’re doing this
Freelancing isn’t easy, and no-one chooses it because they want to be a millionaire.
You choose it because you’re passionate about something and you want to spend as much time as possible doing it.
And preferably, make a living out of it.
Take yourself back to a time before you made that leap into Freelance. Remember the stresses that you had on a day to day basis in your last job.
Now suck in a deep breath.
You’re not there anymore.
Doesn’t that feel better already?