how to find motivation when freelancing
Photo by Jeff Sheldon

You’re sore and bored, so you skip the gym. You reschedule an appointment that’s making you break out in hives. You take a rain check on that social event—your friends will understand. But when it comes to freelancing, a case of the “I don’t wannas” could well derail everything you’ve worked so hard to build. Read on for some strategies to help you power through when you’d rather do anything but work:

Get Small

There’s a reason productivity gurus (ugh) sing the praises of breaking work down into manageable tasks. Sometimes, focusing on the forest means you miss out on each non-threatening tree. Instead of freaking out about your daunting deadline, your nerve-wracking commission or the hundreds of hours you’ll surely spend getting ‘er done, try micro-focusing. Commit to the smallest task first, then the next, then the next. Voila: it’s done.

Get Feisty

Yes, there’s something to be said for the joys of intrinsic motivation and dedication to your task. But some tasks just, well, suck. When nothing can make you get excited about the to-do you absolutely must do, forget motivating yourself. Instead, get feisty. Get pissed. Get annoyed. Get competitive. Do whatever it takes to rouse yourself, even if it’s envisioning your triumphant win over a rival or how sweet it will feel to fire a crappy client once you’ve fulfilled your contract. Don’t worry…nobody needs to know.

Get Tricky

Sometimes, “I don’t wanna” manifests itself as “I can’t. No, really. I literally can’t.” When grappling with weapons-grade demotivation, you’ve got to fight fire with fire. Do whatever it takes to trick yourself into working. Maybe you need a Pomodoro timer that allows for one minute of work and one minute of rest. Maybe you need to put your entire document into a wacky font that makes you giggle every time you open it. Maybe you need to commit to writing just ten words or calling a friend every ten minutes to stay on track. Now is not the time for half measures. Feel free to con, hoodwink, and deceive your way to done.

Even if you love your freelance career, it’s normal to hit the wall. Just remember: sometimes done is better than fun…and your everyday victories over the impulse to bail out are big wins for freelancers everywhere.