The Truth Behind Being A Demotivated Freelancer (& How To Fix It)

For all the glamour in working for yourself as a freelancer, there are a number of pitfalls that can cause you to end up feeling stressed, demotivated and like you want to curl up into the foetal position and cry.

There are those moments when you want to pack it all in and get back on Indeed to frantically search for a job so you can return to the safety and security of having a stable income and not have to rely quite so much on yourself all the time.

This isn’t to put you off being a freelancer though if you aren’t already. Not at all.

I just want to tell you how damn normal it is to feel utterly devoid of motivation – even if normally you are hella motivated and productive in life. After all, that’s me. I thrive on being busy, organised and feeling like I’ve achieved something each day.

But this week, after a tough counselling session that was not at all about my business, I cried. I cried through the session, I cried all the way home and then I cried on Liam. Lucky fella. Y’see, whilst the reason I started crying wasn’t to do with the business, being that emotional opened up a door that must’ve been open a crack. The door has a plaque that read “You’re not trying hard enough”.

The reason I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough was because I felt like I’d become lazy. I haven’t been pitching for as much work, I’ve been moving assignments round to make my days “easier” (y’know, picking the bits that are easy and that you want to do, and ignoring the big, bad frog). I’ve basically been displaying behaviours that are not at all like me. That’s scary.

I’ve always been particularly proud of my hardworking ethic, and so it felt incredibly alien to me to not have that motivation there. To want to avoid things, to put them off. But after more tears the following day, it was Liam who came up with an idea that was so incredibly simple to get my motivation back on track.

Write everything you need to do on a piece of paper.

Painfully old school, right? I live by my Google Calendar and inbox and the idea of writing things down on paper almost seemed barbaric. What could that possibly achieve?

Fuck. It made such a difference.

I got a piece of A4 and a pen and at the top I write ‘TO DO’ in big letters. Then I wrote a slightly smaller heading ‘CLIENT WORK’ and next thing I knew, the piece of paper was covered in bullet points, arrows and ticks (pro tip: always write at least one task on your to do list that you’ve done already).

Next thing I knew, I was powering through the quick and simple tasks so they could be ticked off. That’s to be expected though right? Still focusing on the easy bits. But then I kept going. I spent a few hours on a bigger project, and by the end of the day I felt on top of the world again. What a feeling!

The funny thing is, once I got that motivation back I suddenly started getting more “Yes” emails. More “Yes, let’s meet up and discuss how you can help my business”, “Yes, I’d like to use your services, please send the invoice”. Those beautiful emails that further fuel your motivation and validate you.

The freelancer life is a never-ending rollercoaster.

One day you’ll feel shit and like no one wants to hire you – the next day some work will come in and you’ll feel like the bee’s knees. No matter what kind of day it is, a simple A4 piece of paper and a pen can rescue you and make you feel on top of things again.


  1. Katie C

    Old fashioned pen and paper can be brilliant. My manager has been encouraging me to start using an Excel spread sheet for my tasks at work, but I’d much rather use my post-it notes and a pen as it feels so good to cross things off!

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      I’m one of those weirdos who loves both! I’m a bit spreadsheet mad for certain things, but nothing beats the satisfaction of ticking off a task completed!

  2. storm

    I’m totally with you on the tip about putting something on the list that’s already done! It’s nice to start off with being able to go ahead and check something off the list.

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