• Ben Lewis-Smith

Motivation as a freelancer

Some days I cannot find the motivation to work - the latest box-set, or a quick whizz around a Mario-Kart track seem of much greater appeal. On these days I can't seem to find the energy or motivation to hustle, let alone to practice or rehearse. I come from a musical background: teaching, performing, rehearsing, but think that the brief thoughts below are relevant for those in all spheres of self-employed life. I haven't seen this topic much discussed in freelance circles, and the more I consider the concept of motivation, the more I conclude that a wavering enthusiasm is just a natural feature of our existence. As a colleague once remarked to me "no effort is wasted effort" - seemingly any progress you can make towards a goal - no matter how big or small - should be viewed as positive and thus encouraging as you strive to grow the projects that are important to you.

Things that have helped me:

Add your own structure to the day

I suspect that as a freelancer having a clear structure to the day is key - without this the days just disappear and all just roll into one. It's impossible to focus for hours and hour on end, so set aside regular screen-free breaks to recharge.


I always thought that this one was a myth, but it can really help to focus the mind and put things in perspective. Even a walk around the block, the fresh air, the break from the desk helps to give things a positive spin.

Stick to your own time schedule

"You'll achieve more if you wake up early" just isn't relevant anymore. Work when your body and mind are ready to work - if that means an 11am start then so be it. People work more effectively at different times of the day - freelance work is about flexibility and often from home - so we should unashamedly make the most of these benefits.

Don't feel guilty about downtime during the day

Say you have a work in the evening from 7pm-9pm use the morning to makeup for the lack of evening downtime (10am-midday for instance). The freelance working patterns can be unusual with rather antisocial working hours already, so mix and match your days to suit these rather varied working patterns.

Try to avoid being sidetracked by administrative tasks (emails/social media)

While we often need to stay in touch with clients and be generally proactive in establishing and maintaining new working relationships, do these consciously rather than for the purpose of just filling time or the feeling that you are working harder.

Expect higher highs and lower lows

At the peak freelance work can be the ultimate joy: your own schedule, choice of work, flexibility to holiday when you like and potentially lucrative. When things are not going to plan the days can be dark and unrelenting. Just remember when the world seems against you that there is always potential waiting around the corner. No matter how small each achievement these soon will stack together into something substantial.

I hope you have found this article useful in some way.

Please feel free to email me on

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