The 6 Forms of Freelancer Procrastination – And How to Beat Them

Uncovering the root cause of your procrastination is the key to overcoming it.

You know that managing your time wisely is essential to your success and happiness as a freelancer. But, lately, you keep finding yourself procrastinating. You’re staring out your window more, picking your nails, and even completing random tasks you had shelved away.

You’ve tried to put a stop to your procrastination, but it hasn’t truly stuck. 

That’s because procrastination is almost always a sign of something deeper going on emotionally.

Maybe you’re experiencing fear or perfectionism. Or perhaps your work is not aligned with your core values.

You’re not alone.

Feeling this way happens to most freelancers at some point.

Here’s how to uncover the root cause of your procrastination – and the practical ways to overcome it. 🙌

The Root Causes of Procrastination

Procrastination can show up in many forms as a freelancer. Have you ever found yourself…

Cramming to finish client work right before the deadline?

Doing sooo much research/prep work before you actually get started working?

Convincing yourself you need to learn yet another new project management tool?

We’ve all been there. You may feel frustrated with yourself when you realize you wasted time procrastinating. But procrastinating doesn’t mean that you’re lazy or have poor willpower. 

Procrastination is almost always a sign of something going on under the surface. And this doesn’t need to be a bad thing.

Your subconscious could be sending you a message that something is out of alignment with you. You can use procrastination as a clue to help you understand what you want or what to address deep within.

Here are a few of the most common causes of work-from-home procrastination:

  • Fear. When you’re trying something for the first time, it’s natural to experience some fear of the unknown. That’s your brain’s way of protecting you. And fear very often presents itself in the form of procrastination.

    Fear is a sign that you’re learning, growing, and pushing yourself to the next level. Accepting fear as a part of your growth process gives it less power over you. 

    How do you overcome fear? By getting started anyway. Tasks tend to feel scarier before we’ve actually gotten started. Start small and commit to working for just 30 minutes. When your timer is up, I bet you’ll be ready to keep going.

  • Misalignment. Procrastination could be a sign that the work you’re doing isn’t in alignment with your core values.

    I once worked with a client that was offering medical advice I disagreed with. I tried to write for them but kept finding myself procrastinating on the work. When I realized the misalignment in values was causing my writing procrastination, I ended the relationship.

    You’re allowed to end an agreement with a client when you need to, even without an explanation. Respectfully let them know that you’re no longer a good fit, and issue a refund, if applicable.

  • Perfectionism. We tend to hold ourselves to waaay too high a standard. The thought of messing up or not being perfect can paralyze you, preventing you from moving forward.

    The only way to learn and grow is to take action and learn from the outcome. So, it’s time to give yourself permission to take imperfect, messy action.

    I like to remind myself that life is a constant series of small course corrections. When you take action, and something feels off, simply get curious about how you can bring yourself back on track.1

  • New Desires. Sometimes, procrastination is a sign that you’re no longer interested in the topics or niche you’re writing about.

    As a freelancer, YOU get to decide what you work on and who you work with. If something doesn’t feel right to you anymore, it’s okay to move on.

    Think about the projects in your past that you loved working on. Gradually shift your business to work with this type of client.

Getting familiar with these underlying causes of procrastination is so crucial , whether you’re first starting out as a freelancer or a few years in.

Develop self-trust by allowing yourself to listen to these feelings. Often, procrastination is a clue that can guide us toward creating a more aligned, fulfilling, and enjoyable career.

6 Forms of Freelancer Procrastination

Okay, now you know the underlying causes of procrastination. Here are six ways these underlying emotions could be showing up for you.

  1. Over-Consuming. 

    You have a new type of project coming up that you’ve never done before. So you spend sooo much time researching and preparing, trying to make sure you have the perfect approach before you begin.

    Sound familiar? Of course, it’s good to prepare! But the best way to learn is to take action, start writing, and learn as you go.

  1. Buffering. 

    Do you keep making tiny tweaks to your website or spending hours on Canva doing one design? You could be distracting yourself to avoid doing scarier tasks, like client outreach.

    Working on your site may feel fun. But pushing yourself to do the hardest, scariest task first helps you grow so much faster.

  1. Working Under Pressure. 

    Maybe you wait until the last minute to do client work because you think you work best under pressure. I get it. I used to feel that way too!

    The truth is, constantly being in fight-or-flight mode can be unhealthy for your body and brain. Get work done ahead of time to create a calm environment where creativity flows.

  1. Seeking External Affirmation. 

    Getting positive feedback is a powerful way to fuel your confidence at first. But be careful not to rely too heavily on external affirmation to believe in yourself.

    You’ve put in the time and practice to trust your skills. Cultivate confidence from within by making small promises to yourself and keeping them.

  1. Using Tools & Systems. 

    Are you a big fan of creating systems, spreadsheets, and lists to feel productive? I get it – I also love whipping out my highlighter and having a good planning session. 🤣

    Being organized is essential. But at a certain point, project management tools can distract you from getting work done. Ask yourself, “Am I using tools in a smart way, or am I using them to feel productive?”

  1. Inspiration. 

    Ah, yes. Waiting for inspiration to strike is a common way to procrastinate. But the truth is, writing is much more about discipline than random bursts of inspiration.

    Develop a structured working or writing ritual to beat “writer’s block” and cultivate creativity whenever you choose.

It can be easy to procrastinate or put off important tasks as a freelancer. You don’t have a boss watching over you or making sure you finish everything at a specific time. So, you have to hold yourself accountable.

One way to stay on track is by partnering up with an accountability buddy. You and your buddy can check in on each other’s businesses and goals.

Plus, entrepreneurship is so much more enjoyable when you stay connected with other freelancers on a similar path.

How to Address Underlying Causes of Procrastination

Now that you know procrastination is usually a result of an underlying emotion, how do you address and overcome subconscious emotions? 

Through consistent and intentional mindset practices.

Mastering your mindset is not always a straightforward process, which is why we created a course to show you how. In one course, you get the mindset tools to…

🙌 Identify the limiting beliefs and fears that are holding you back.
🙌 Create affirmations and mindset practices that develop confidence and self-trust.

All these practices help you beat procrastination and move toward a life more aligned with your values and internal desires. To learn more and sign up for Master Your Mindset, click here

Prefer to Watch?

Watch my YouTube video on how to overcome freelancer procrastination. Subscribe here for more tips on freelancing, mindset, and productivity.

Resources:

Raising Your Baseline, Inner Archaeology

About Sarah

I’m an entrepreneur on a mission to help other people become entrepreneurs.
My blog is a place where I provide business building advice and explore how we can create more meaningful work.

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