When you get paid to produce results and your biggest constraint is time, distractions become a big problem.
Today, these distractions are worse than ever. There’s social media, email, chats, texts, blogs, phone calls, people, and T.V.
These distractions have the potential to affect employees as much as they do freelancers. But I’ve found that they become amplified once you become a freelancer for one simple reason:
You are free to do whatever you want with your time.
Back when I was in corporate America I knew I had to be at my desk, logged into my phone by exactly 8:00 a.m. If I was 2 minutes late I had to makeup those 2 minutes at lunch.
I could take one 15-minute break at 10:30 a.m., a 60-minute lunch at noon and a 15-minute break at 3:30 p.m. before leaving at 5:00 p.m. In other words, my days were planned for me by someone else.
And Facebook was blocked on our computers but of course we could check it on our phone. However, you didn’t want to be caught staring at your phone every time your manager walked by because they may assume you were not working, which would be a correct assumption.
Plus, we had certain goals we had to make. We had to be logged into the phone system for so many hours a day. We had to stay current on our follow ups and projects. And there was always more work than time in the day to do it. So this helped to make me focus on my work and say no to distractions.
However, the freelance world is not like this. I don’t have a boss. I can start and end my day whenever I choose. Same with my breaks and lunches. And outside the self-imposed deadlines I create for client projects, I can pretty much do whatever I want, when I want. That’s both the blessing and curse of freedom.
If you’re a freelancer you know what I mean.
Freedom is a wonderful thing but it comes with responsibility to steward it well, otherwise it will be taken from you. And because I never want to work for anyone else again, I will do whatever I need to do to fight distractions so I can keep my freedom.
There’s a proverb I love that says:
“The hand of the diligent will rule,
But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.”
When I meditate on that I realize I’m presented with a choice every day. I can either be diligent or lazy. I can make a plan and stick to it. Or I can be ruled by my emotions and body and give into the ever present distractions.
Today I choose focus. I choose diligence. That’s all I need to do. I don’t need to worry about tomorrow right now. I just need to focus for this next chunk of time I have reserved to do my most important task of the day.
What about you? What will you choose today? Remember, freedom comes with a price and if you’re not willing to pay it then you will lose it.