homer simpson running

When you work from home as a freelance writer or an online entrepreneur, the onus is on you to stay as motivated and productive as possible. There is a serious misconception of freedom, because it’s not completely true that you can “work when you want to”. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Part of the trouble is that you don’t have a manager or a supervisor constantly hounding you to work harder, faster, and more effectively.

You’ve undeniably tried several strategies to increase your productivity. Maybe you’ve tried taking well-deserved breaks. Maybe you’ve found the time of day when you work best. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself to wake up earlier each day. Well, while I don’t recommend you utilize this technique too often, creating a false sense of urgency can do wonders in improving your productivity.

Working the Final Stretch

Some people like to say that they work best under pressure. This is a nice way of saying that they tend to be habitual procrastinators and they don’t really get any work done until they absolutely have to. Anyone who’s gone through a university or college education is likely guilty of this, pulling all-nighters so they can finish their essays on time. In the end, you probably got the work done on time, but 90% of the effort was exerted during the final stretch.

And therein lies the rationale for this productivity-increasing strategy. When you take the unconventional route of working from home, you are probably faced with softer deadlines. A freelance writing client may ask that you get something done “within the next week or two” rather than setting a firm date. This makes it all too easy to put the project off until “tomorrow.” Your productivity suffers because just like “someday”, tomorrow never comes.

Make Tomorrow Today

A key strategy that I employ to increase productivity is to create a false sense of urgency. I manifest artificial deadlines so that it feels like something has to be done right now. It forces me to complete a certain piece of work before I go to bed that night, even though the client may or may not need it for a few more days. If you get into the habit of always putting things off, you will build up an ever-expanding backlog. You simply cannot keep up with this. It’s much better to plan ahead and get things done as soon as possible.

This is why it’s also so important to have a to-do list, accompanied by due dates for each item on the list. Before I set out on my freelance writing way each morning, I make a note of which projects I want to have completed by the end of the day. Taking it even further, it is possible to set out mini-goals: what you want to accomplish before lunch, before dinner, and before bedtime. Specific goals work best. A task that was once “kind of important” is now “urgent” and needs to be done before the end of the day. If you truly believe this, you will get it done.

Don’t Overdo It Either

As noted earlier in this post, it’s important that you do not employ this strategy too often. A false sense of urgency can be helpful in increasing productivity, but when used in excess, you can become prone to burning out. Are you exhibiting the signs of burnout? Always feeling exhausted? Getting disgruntled, cynical, and overly pessimistic about your work? Then check out these strategies for overcoming burnout too.