Freelance: Dealing with the motivation black hole


It’s raining and icky outside. I ate a giant brunch and would prefer to nap than work. I’ve  looked at my to-do list at least five times already and instead of tackling anything I made a wallpaper for my iPhone and ordered a new bag online. (It was red with fringe – I couldn’t help myself.) Even with all my goal-making prowess and motivation, sometimes work just isn’t happening, so here’s what I do.

1. Write down the top five things I need to do

2. Put items in order of importance (Google to-do list is quite helpful for this little switcheroo)

3. Work on one thing at a time, starting with the most important, ignoring the rest

Also helpful for monumental to-do lists and raging deadlines.

Photo via LIFE


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  1. says

    I’m not freelance, but I came across your post during a MASTER procrastination session, timely!

    I guess I should give this list a try, thanks for sharing.

  2. says

    Everyone one of your posts have been EXACTLY what I have been needing to read. Thank you so much! Your blog is one of my top favorites! Thanks for sharing with us. I just found it wonderful how everything was so relevant to me this month….. Your loyal fan! :)

  3. says

    That Google to-do list can be of great help in situations like that. :)

    If you’re a freelancer, there are times when you just want to seat back, relax, and stare back at tons of work piled up – waiting to be completed and delivered. Sometimes, motivating one’s self can be very tiresome to the point when it won’t work at all. What you did was great – the wallpaper-making and bag order online. ;) Those activities will somehow buffer the feeling of having to motivate yourself too hard.

    It also helps to break down your to-do list in realizable pieces. Working on something at a time really does wonders.

    Keep up the great work Ms. Sarah. Thanks for sharing these things we keep coming back for. :)

  4. says

    I just found your site today, so I don’t know if this is still relevant or not, but I find that committing to doing something for “just 5 minutes” is really effective. Cuz I can usually convince myself that 5 minutes of work won’t kill me, and really once you’ve started something… it’s pretty easy to keep going :)

    But sometimes, I work for my 5 minutes, and then I go back to bed. That’s okay too, right?? ;)