How I stay motivated every single day as a freelancer with a full-time job.


One of my colleagues recently asked me how I find the motivation to do what I do. “What I do” is a little vague, so let me elaborate on that. I’m a full-time developer (40 hours/week), a freelancer on the side for various companies (15-20 hours/week) and I write at least 1 blog a week (varies in time). I work out about 5 times a week (at least 5 hours). Since recently, I also started to finish 1 audiobook a week. I’m not saying that I have the busiest life, but it fills my days.

Dealing with negative situations

Now and then, things will happen that will disrupt your life. You might fail the interview for your dream job. You might be training for a marathon and break your leg one week before the contest. So many things can happen that will demotivate you.

The way I deal with this is something that I learned about a year ago. There’s the “5-minute rule” which is best explained by Hal Elrod on Impact Theory.

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The 5-minute rule allows you to be negative for 5 minutes after something bad happens. It’s okay to be negative during these 5 minutes. But after these 5 minutes, you say 3 words: ”Can’t change it!”. If there’s something to remember from this article, it’s this rule. By applying this rule, you can accept the negative situation and go on to the next challenge.

Schedule and forget

Remembering all the tasks that you have to complete for the day is very hard. Remembering all the tasks that you have to complete for a week is impossible. That’s why it’s important to write down your tasks. Not only because you will not forget them, but also because you will stop thinking about it. Once you write it down in a to-do list and schedule it, you can completely forget about it. This helps you to keep the focus on your current task.

It’s important to create a clear schedule that works for you and your partner. Use a calendar to schedule a time for work and your partner. Work is silver, your partner is gold.

You can find all my productivity tools in my previous blog on the 10 productivity apps that I use.

Healthy body, healthy mind

Working out is an underestimated form of therapy. It’s not only underestimated, but it’s also a lot cheaper. You don’t have to go to the gym and workout for 2 hours every single day. Working out can be as simple as going out for a walk or a run. Doing 50 push-ups each day is fine too. Do something!

Besides working out, you should also eat healthily. Does that mean to go on a diet? NO! Replace your soda with water, your biscuit with an apple, and your 4th coffee with tea. I’m kidding about the tea, I love coffee.

Your brain is a part of your body. How do you expect your brain to work, if the fuel of your body is bad?

Get up early

This is something that will not work for everyone. I get up pretty early, not always 5 AM but I’ll be ready to start working by 6:30 AM. You might think, well that’s not early at all! I get up at 4:30! Well even better!

4 years ago I never woke up before 7 AM… On the weekends I even struggled to wake up before 10 AM… Can you imagine? The thing to remember here is that you can become better at something if your “why” is big enough. If waking up early means that I get to spend more time doing what I love and maintaining my relationship… Sign me up!

Start your day by doing something you don’t like

This is a real game-changer. You need to do stuff that you don’t like, so better get it over with at the start of the day. Working out first thing in the world can be something awful to do. But once you’re done working out, you don’t have to look back on it. Workout finished and done for today.

This is something that kinda works for me, but not always. I like to do my workouts as a break from my computer. I actually enjoy working out, so I don’t need to do it first thing in the morning.

For me, cleaning is much worse. So I start the morning by unloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, and cleaning the rooms. I even vacuum the living room and kitchen, just to annoy myself. And if I’m done with that, every other task will be enjoyable. I won’t have to clean up after work and I will be able to enjoy a nice walk with my girlfriend in the evening.

Find a challenge

Once I get bored with something, this can be anything, I find a new challenge. As a developer, it’s important to keep learning. Every year, month, week, or even day some new technology pops up. We need to scan the technology related to our work to see if we can improve existing projects by using it.

I’m a full-stack developer. I focus on the frontend, but I keep up with the backend and DevOps. One of the things I do is learning new frontend frameworks like Svelte. I try to write a blog about it and open-source the code so that others can learn from it. This helps me to remember it better and I learn so much from comments from other enthusiasts.


Conclusion

A source of motivation is something that everyone needs. Some people have it naturally, other people struggle with it. But everyone needs something that drives them. Some people want to work a steady job with 40 hour work weeks. And that’s fine.

But even when you don’t want to become a freelancer or a runner, you can still apply these rules to your daily life. Some of these rules might help you to relieve the stress in your day job. This could benefit your relationship because you reduce these infinite bad days. Which will generally lead to a better life.

I’m not saying that I have the answer to every negative situation. I will also have bad days. I will have stress in the workplace and I will have difficulty to workout some days. But being able to handle these negative situations the proper way, by thinking clearly and looking for a solution, instead of looking in the abyss. That will help you to become happy. And for me, happiness eventually leads to motivation.