Posts Tagged ‘drive’

Kick Yourself in the Pants: Staying on Target as a Remote Freelance Journalist

The radiator is hissing, the cats continue to circle the room and periodically scratch the back of our new sofa, the mailman stomps up the steps and the HDTV dares me to bathe in its plasma glow.

While these stimuli offer any artist vibrant hooks on which to hang their work, these noises, actions and perceived invitations can also serve to derail your responsibilities. As a 21-year veteran of the freelancing world, I know this feeling all too well.

Without a truly developed sense of discipline and lacking a formal corporate environment within which to operate, it’s difficult to maintain focus and drive sometimes. The distractions around the home office don’t help, and our situation isn’t one that most professionals can empathize with when we share at cocktail parties.

So, when faced with trying to get work done in a remote location, and dealing with myriad distractions, how do you stay on task and complete your assigned work on time?

Three things work for me. Deadlines. Deal-making. Dilly-dallying.

The first, and best, solution is having an immovable deadline. That concept itself is redundant. A deadline should be a deadline should be a deadline. But who among us hasn’t nudged a deadline a bit due to circumstances beyond our control?

Unfortunately, the knowledge that a deadline isn’t absolute is dangerous. Soon, just like the teenager who sets her alarm clock ahead by 15 minutes to get an extra 15 minutes of sleep, you’re just fooling yourself and creating more stress.

So, obey the deadline and treat your assignments as if the product you have when the bell goes off is the final product. While you won’t immediately whip yourself into shape, you’ll find that you use your allotted time more efficiently.

I’m now at the stage – having had deadlines taunt me for two decades – where my internal clock and some recesses of my brain collaborate to spark me into motion when there’s just enough time left for me to write an article or craft a post.

The second solution is to bargain with yourself. Make yourself a deal that you can’t ignore so that you can manage your tasks. Either promise yourself a reward or deny yourself something expected until you reach a milestone with an assignment.

This sounds like game-playing behavior, but sometimes all you need is an initial push to get you working toward your finished goal. My favorite punishment and reward is food. Second is the aforementioned plasma HDTV. What makes the TV even more effective these days is the advent of the DVR, so I can’t convince myself that I’ll just watch my show and come back to the keyboard. That show will wait until I type the ### at the end of my piece.

The third way to keep yourself on track when you’re working remotely is to take yourself completely off the track. Seriously. If you can’t get your writing done because of a mental block, the situation at your remote office or other distractions, then get away.

Go for a go-kart ride, play the banjo, walk along the beach, hop in the hot-tub. Whatever you can do to kindle your creative fire, go do it. Don’t use this method as your first option as it might become a habit. Then you’ll find yourself likely living in a house with hundreds of cats in Key West drinking rum and…..oh, wait, that seemed to work pretty well for some semi-famous freelancer, I guess.

The freelance life – and especially the one that keeps you remote most of the time – is a challenge. But if you can find a few solutions for remaining motivated and creative, you’ll learn to treasure the pace, freedom and other benefits that go along with the solo journey.


Jeff Cutler
Content Creator and Social Media Strategist

READ CUTLER (732-328-8537)


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