Living the freelance life is great but just like someone working a 9 to 5, freelancers can become bored with work. If you’re an experienced freelancer who has felt this way, you might even feel some guilt or regret. All successful freelancers work hard to find great projects, market themselves and get work done on their own terms. You create your work-life, so what do you’ve fallen into a routine that makes you want to sleep the day away?
In this post, you’ll find my top boredom busting tips for freelancers. Ready? Let’s jump in.
Find your frog
Yup, we’re starting off this article on a weird note. Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Basically, you should get the most daunting tasks on your to-do list out of the way before you do anything else. This is a great tactic, but many freelancers who get bored with their work don’t know how to find their frog. How do you choose one task when you wear so many hats as a freelancer?
Here’s a hint: Your frog is the task you don’t want to do but really need to do.
Getting these types of tasks out of the way can change your whole outlook on the work you do. When you avoid these tasks and it takes weeks or days to get them done, you’re dragging out that feeling of boredom. Instead, do that thing you don’t want to do first. Then, you can spend the rest of each day working on tasks you enjoy more.
Take a class. Look at other people’s work. Read. You can do this in your own niche and discover interesting things to refuel your brain. Learning something new or picking up a new skill can help you break out of boredom and get back on task.
Break tasks apart
When you’re bored with work, nothing is more daunting than doing tasks you don’t want to do for hours on end. Instead of trying to force yourself to do this, break tasks apart.
If you’re a writer, this might mean doing all the research you need to do for an article first, taking a break and then starting the writing process. Or maybe it means using the Pomodoro method and working in 25-minute sprints. The key here is to break down big, overwhelming tasks to fit the way that you like to work.
Remember when you used to go to a doctor’s appointment as a kid and you’d get a sticker or a lollipop at the end? Sometimes, a reward is exactly what we need to motivate ourselves to do the things that you don’t want to do.
Decide on some rewards that you can give yourself when you finish those tasks you don’t want to do. Maybe it’s watching an episode of your favorite show or taking time to go have lunch at your favorite restaurant.
Don’t daydream about these things while barreling through to the next task. Choose your rewards and make time to enjoy them.
Automate boring tasks
No matter what kind of work you do, there’s always going to be aspects of it that you don’t like. Some tasks, you may be able to outsource. Others, you won’t be able to escape. If you dread the same necessary tasks every week, it’s worth exploring if there’s a way that you can automate them. Here are a few ideas to get you started with automation.
Create templates for yourself
I don’t know about you, but with my roster of clients, I find myself saying the same types of things over and over in emails each week. The fact is, writing out so many similar messages about project updates, payments, or meetings is SUPER boring, and a waste of time. Creating templates for yourself is a great way to save time and make email management less of a drag.
Take some time to sit down and think about the types of emails you send most often, and save some templates in a folder or your CRM. Then, each time you write an email you can pop in that template, customize as needed and send it off in a few clicks.
Set recurring notifications or tasks
We all have access to different applications that can streamline our processes and remind us when our deadlines are. Setting up recurring tasks or reminders is an awesome way to give your brain a break and automate your weekly planning.
The way you do this will look different depending on the app you’re using, but I’ll give you an example of the way I do it. I use (and love) Trello for project management. I give each task its own card and organize those cards based on my deadlines. One of my favorite things about Trello is that it allows you to set up reoccurring “cards” or tasks.
So, when I have a task that I need to do for one of my clients on a weekly basis, I only set up the card once. Then, I set it to reappear every week on a certain day. Now, when I’m creating my weekly to-do list, I only need to focus on new tasks. Everything that’s part of my routine will automatically reappear for me. (Cool, right)?
This is one of my favorite tips to give people who are struggling with boredom. Did you know that you can connect the apps you use to get work done faster and avoid tasks you don’t love? I use Zapier for this. There are TONS of apps you can connect and you don’t need technical knowledge to do it. I could write a book on all the automations that are helpful for freelancers, but here’s an example of one automation I have set up for marketing.
With Zapier, I connected HubSpot CRM to Google Sheets. I have this set up so that every time I track a cold email that I send with HubSpot, Zapier takes that information and adds it to my Google Sheet. With this method, I can keep track of who I pitch, what company they work for, and when I last contacted them. It only took a few minutes to set this up, and it’s saved me hours of data entry work.
Are you interested in more content about how to automating your freelance life? Let me know by dropping a comment below.
What to do when boredom busters fail
If boredom busters completely fail and you can’t seem to get something on my to-do list done, I start working on something else. Anything else. For a lot of people, boredom turns into procrastination. Then you don’t get anything done at all.
Don’t fall into this trap. Start working on something even if it isn’t the most important task on your to-do list.
Final thoughts: Beating boredom for freelancers
Being bored with work isn’t always a bad thing. We’re human, or energy levels change, and everyone faces boredom. However, if this is a frequent problem for you, it’s worth taking a closer look. If you often find yourself bored, there might be a bigger problem, like the types of clients you have or the type of work you’re doing.