A big challenge for old and new freelance bloggers is avoiding distractions and staying focused. This can be especially true for those that are in the “transition phase” where you might be working a day job while trying to build your business as a freelance writer or blogger. That is a particularly difficult time where you might find yourself to tired on any given day to stay on a consistent schedule. But those are the times to build good habits and stay focused.
Here are some of the things that I find to be effective ways of staying on task as a freelancer.
Avoid Internet Distractions
What? But this work is all about being ON the Internet.
Yeah; I get that. But I also know that it becomes really easy to get sidetracked by your web browser and social media, which makes it easy to not get a project or article completed.
While researching posts, it is all too easy to become distracted and end up just surfing. What’s worse is that a lot of this wasted time is self-justified by thoughts of, “Well, I might be interested in doing something about that subject later.”
Email and social media can be a huge waste of time as well. Don’t misunderstand – these can be necessary elements for your business. They are for mine. But if I am not focused on writing, it can be easy to pop that browser window open and get on Twitter for awhile instead of finishing that post I need to publish. Working as a freelance blogger requires staying focused by avoiding these distractions.
Follow a Structured Schedule
When you are freelancing and self employed as a blogger, it is easy to get off track if no one is driving you forward to completion.
This can be a little different depending on the work. For example, when writing a piece or doing some development work that will be delivered to a client, you may have the luxury of a deadline or at the very least, a target date when the completed work will be needed. But if you are writing for your own site, you may not have that hard deadline staring you in the face.
Those are the times that I am prone to let my focus wander off track. Then I fall into the traps like I mentioned earlier.
Some tips to stay focused are to keep an editorial calendar and to keep some kind of free-form writing journal. This can help structure the schedule and keep you from wandering.
A big component of blogging is writing. (Surprised, aren’t you?) That means you are going to need a steady flow of good material.
Remember the movie Throw Momma From the Train? Billy Crystal gives some great advice to Danny Davito in that movie when he says, “A writer writes. Always.”
That’s good advice. And it will keep you moving forward, even when there is no specific schedule. Many writers will tell you to keep a free-form writing journal. This is something that I do to keep a log of possible future material. I find that doing it “old school” with a pen and notebook makes it easier to avoid drifting off into other distractions if I do it online. This is something I wrote about in 3 Core Concepts for Unending Writing Inspiration.
What Others Have To Say
Darren Rowse has a great post on Problogger.net titled How to Stay Focused and Avoid Distraction as a Blogger. It’s actually a video post, and he provides a transcript if you prefer to read it. Identify goals and set boundaries.
Liza Shaw has a nice post that also advises setting boundaries. She also suggests setting regular hours – something that I find to be a great way of staying on target – by setting a start and stop time and developing a routine.
Are you a freelance blogger? What do you find to be an effective way to avoid distractions?