by Jillian Mikolaizyk

I love freelancing, but sometimes I find myself envying people with 9-to-5 jobs. They get to clock in and just work, without worrying about things like billing, organizing, marketing, pinging current clients, searching for new clients …

Lack of motivation makes doing those tasks much harder than it should be. I’ve been dealing with the temptation to slack off long enough that I have seven tried-and-true methods for getting my motivation back on track.

Set Deadlines

Since you’re (essentially) running a business, there are going to be a lot of things you need to do that you don’t necessarily have clients breathing down your neck for — in fact, there are some things, like billing, that they’d probably be happy to let you forget.

If you don’t have a due date for all of these essential but self-imposed tasks, they’ll sneak up on you and overwhelm you. So, I don’t let it get to that point. I start every month by scheduling the big things  and then at the beginning of every week, I review my deadlines and decide what I’ll be working on.

Use Apps

If all of this scheduling and staying on top of things sounds a bit overwhelming, apps may help.

Personally, I’ve never found a to-do app that beats my paper-and-pen planner. But out of all the apps I’ve tried, I like Remember the Milk the best. It’s simple and easy to share with other people on tasks you want to collaborate on.

When it comes to billing, I know a lot of freelancers who swear by And Co. Personally, I don’t need a lot of the bells and whistles it offers. I prefer HoursTracker, which is a much simpler app.

Get Rid of Bad Habits Slowly

Like anyone else, I have some bad habits. And when I decided to pursue a freelance career seriously, I tried getting rid of all of them at once. I was going to become a model worker, overnight. You can probably guess how well that went over.

But looking back on where I began,  I can see how much I’ve improved. I don’t procrastinate anymore, and while I sometimes oversleep, it’s an occasional thing instead of the norm. I am a pro at making phone calls — which used to terrify me — and I know when to reach out and ask for help or clarification from a client — which I used to be too proud to do.

Learn a New Skill

If you feel like you’re stagnating, learning a new skill is a great way to motivate yourself. When you learn something new, you want to be able to put it into action

Most of the time I like to learn by experience — for example, I learned how to put together a WordPress site! But I also try to connect with people who were once in my shoes and find out how to avoid their mistakes.

Another way is to take an online course through SkillsShare

Chat with Other Professionals

This is how I motivate myself specifically when I’m feeling down and overwhelmed.

Being a freelancer isn’t easy. A lot of us are isolated, so I like to chat up other freelancers because it reminds me that we’re all in the same boat.

A great place for me to do this is r/freelancewriters. The people there are all super friendly and willing to lend a helping hand to newbies and experienced freelance writers alike.

Decorate Your Office

If you don’t have an office space, you should start by making yourself one.

For a few months, I worked from the couch. It was hard to get into the working mindset when I was sitting in the same place where I took my afternoon nap.

Then I moved to the kitchen table. It was a little better, but it made me more hungry than motivated.

I finally moved to an old desk we had in the guest bedroom. When I sit at my desk, I know this is a place for work and only work.

Know When to Give In

So, there are plenty of ways that I avoid the various distractions around me. But, sometimes, taking that nap or going for that walk can be more motivating than anything else.

After all, there’s a reason I’m not in a 9-to-5 job. I love having the freedom to work on my own terms. And, sure, sometimes giving in and taking an hour or so off means that I’ll have to work a little later in the long run. But it also means that I can come back to the work with a fresh outlook.

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Jillian Mikolaizyk, a freelance writer, editor and social media manager, primarily works for the award-winning PR and marketing firm, Logos Communications. To view Jillian’s blog and portfolio, visit