1. Keep track of your progress. When you have an unconventional job, you can get discouraged easily. You can feel like you aren’t doing enough since you aren’t seeing immediate results. To help you see how much you have been getting done in a day (or to push you to get more done when you have been slacking) you should keep track of your progress. Write down your word count each day. Take photographs of your artwork each day. Give yourself something to look at throughout the week so you can see how much you have accomplished in that time frame.
2. Work in a clean, well-lit space. It’s tempting to stay in your pajamas and work from bed, but you should resist the urge to get overly comfortable. Wake up at a reasonable time, get dressed in the same outfit you would wear if you had to drive to an office, and work across a clean desk space because clutter will cause distractions. Act like you have a boss standing over your shoulder, watching your progress, and you will find fewer reasons to procrastinate.
3. Manage your notifications. You probably won’t want to turn off your phone because you might need it for work (or an emergency), but you should think about managing your notifications. Make sure you aren’t getting any alerts about Facebook friends requesting you or Instagram friends DMing you. Limit your amount of time spent on social media and only scroll through those pages when you are finished working for the day.
4. Listen to the right soundtracks. Even if you swear music helps you concentrate, you are not going to be able to focus on your projects if you have a new album blaring in the background. You are going to get lost in the lyrics. You are going to want to hear the vocals. That is why you should listen to instrumentals instead. Either that or you can play nature sounds to drown out the sounds of the neighborhood.
5. Set alarms for yourself. Instead of having a loose schedule where you work whenever inspiration strikes, force yourself to stick to a routine. Set alarms for when you want to start working and whenever you allow yourself a break, set an alarm for when that break should end. A more structured schedule will prevent procrastination and it will stop you from running around, doing the laundry and washing dishes while you should be working. Those chores should be done outside of your designated work hours.
6. Wake yourself up properly. Run on the treadmill for thirty minutes. Take a cold shower. Drink a cup of coffee. Play a quick game that gets your mind going. Figure out what helps you stay awake and make sure you do it after your alarm rouses you. The earlier you can force yourself to wake up, the more hours in the day you will have to be productive.
7. Get the worst thing out of your way first. In the morning, your first priority should be figuring out which time-consuming tasks you can complete right now and which easy ones you should save for later on when you are exhausted. If you accomplish the goal you were most worried about early in the day, then the rest of the day will feel like smooth sailing in comparison.
8. Write down everything you plan on doing. It doesn’t matter if you use a pad and pen or if you use the notes app on your phone, but you should always write down what you want to get accomplished throughout the day. You should also write down any ideas you have as soon as they come to you, even if it’s in the middle of the night. You don’t want to risk forgetting something important. Play it safe and write it somewhere you will see.
9. Set deadlines for yourself. Pick a date when you feel like you should have a project finished by and work your hardest to meet that deadline. You could even give a friend or a mentor the job of checking in on your progress throughout the month. When you have someone else watching to make sure you are doing what you promised you would do, it will push you to finish what you started.
10. On the weekends, go wild. If you are working twenty-four hours a day every week without even a small vacation in between, you are going to burn yourself out. You need to take breaks so you don’t get sick of what you’re working on and end up doing a poor job. Not only are you allowed to relax every once in a while, but it is healthy to relax. It will make you more productive once you’re back working again.