Wouldn’t it be great to have a superhuman ability to sit down and crank out amazing work on command? Unfortunately that’s not my gift. Just like anyone else, I also find it difficult to stay focused as a freelancer. So if you procrastinate or avoid doing your work now and again, maybe it will help to know that I can relate!
Since I have enough self-awareness to acknowledge this tendency of mine—and since I know my students struggle with it too—I’m always on the look-out to find tips and tricks to overcome procrastination.
One important concept I’ve come to understand is that I cannot rely on motivation to stay focused as a freelancer. Mel Robbins is a world-renowned speaker and coach, and she puts it like this: “Motivation is complete garbage.”
Mel Robbins’ best-selling book, “The 5 Second Rule,” digs into this idea. Her premise is incredibly simple. So simple, in fact, that I almost didn’t bother buying the book. Basically, when you’re trying to do something you don’t want to do, just count down: 5-4-3-2-1-move.
I wasn’t impressed at first. Even Mel herself has called the premise “silly” (since it’s so straightforward). But when the book was on sale on Amazon, I decided to buy it…and I’m incredibly glad I did.
Yes, the tactic is simple—and that’s one of the reasons it’s so powerful. But even more than that, it’s a way to overcome the things that hold you back.
“You can’t control how you feel. But you can always choose how you act.” -Mel Robbins
We don’t always take action on the things we know we should. And that’s because we don’t feel like it. When we hesitate to do something hard (but worthwhile), that hesitation snowballs into procrastination. Eventually, we find ourselves putting things off indefinitely.
When you’re thinking about exerting extra effort for something you know you should do, your emotions can sabotage you within five seconds.
“Hesitation is the kiss of death.” -Mel Robbins
Mel writes in her book, “You might hesitate for just a nanosecond, but that’s all it takes. That one small hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you. And it happens in less than—you guessed it—five seconds.” Counting down from 5 and then immediately taking action interrupts your brain’s bias toward hesitation.
During those times when we are able to overcome our emotional response, we have to use up a substantial amount of willpower. Since willpower is a limited resource, we get wiped out from that one action. There’s nothing left for other decisions (like healthy food choices, making an important phone call, or beginning the next project).
Basically, our energy is sapped.
When trying to do something to move your business forward, The 5 Second Rule can help overcome obstacles: emotions around decisions, overextended willpower, guilt for the times we don’t act. Five, four, three, two, one—then move. It is extremely simple, and also extremely effective.
I am definitely a 5 Second Rule convert, and I recommend that you check out the book to help you stay focused as a freelancer. (This is not a sponsored post, and I am not receiving any compensation.) I believe in this process, and I love sharing tactics that work!
Your turn! Have you tried The 5 Second Rule? Has it worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!
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