5 Habits that Kill Your Motivation

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🖊 This article was last updated on March 29, 2020

More and more people are going freelance. 

Last year, 35% of Americans reported becoming solopreneurs, and from 2013 to 2018, the number of freelancers in the United States grew from 53 million to almost 57 million. 

People are going freelance for many different reasons, mainly:

  • to end the torture of the office work – for some people, working office hours is really torture because they find it emotionally exhausting to play for the favor of managers who are competing among themselves, with no greater value or idea behind their work
  • to choose the projects that they will enjoy – in addition to the previous point, solopreneurs choose this lifestyle to do the work that, in their opinion, brings real value, thus gives them a sense of fulfillment
  • your efforts are rewarded – many people feel that their knowledge and experience aren’t fairly rewarded, but with freelancing, they take this matter in their own hands, as they set the price for their services themselves

The biggest reason behind the choice to go freelance is the change of lifestyle. 51% of freelancers claim that they were driven by the desire to change their lifestyle. And, as freelancing provides them with freedom of choice, solopreneurs can choose the lifestyle that fits them the most. 

There’s one ‘But’

And this ‘But’ is especially true for those, who’ve just started their freelance journey. 

Harmful habits may get in the way. 

You may have the biggest motivation to become a freelancer for the sake of the freedom of choice. But sometimes, willingly or not, freelancers allow their harmful habits to kill motivation and cause productivity draught. 

What are those habits?

Take a look. 

Habit #1: Multitasking

Picture this: A young woman has gone freelance to support her family during her maternity leave. She gives birth to a little boy, and taking care of him takes the majority of her day. At the same time, she still has her clients, as she’s an independent contractor, so she has to work. 

What’s the solution? Multitasking. 

Is it possible to do work and take care of other obligations at the same time?


But it’s counterproductive. And it harms your physical and mental health. 

According to my article that I wrote on monotasking, with reference to the study by Stanford University, multitasking impairs cognitive processes. The study has also found that multitasking puts so much pressure and stress on our brains that it can potentially damage neural connections. Regular multitasking wears off our body and mind, ultimately leading to chronic stress, anxiety or even depression. 

The study has also suggested that regular multitasking can take a chronic form, causing permanent damage to our nervous system. In the case of a young woman, mentioned above, multitasking can lead to severe postpartum depression, as she has to combine her stressful role as a new mother with her obligations as an independent contractor. 

How can you deal with this habit?

I’m known as a recovering chronic multitasker. When I decided to focus more on multitasking instead, for a long time, I had trouble concentrating on one thing and completing it. However, I managed to achieve significant improvements by following these four rules:

  • Eliminating as many distractions as possible, especially your smartphone. 
  • Creating an atmosphere that nourishes productive work, I’m quickly distracted when I have a messy desk 
  • Following a list of tasks one by one. It is essential to create a list that’s realistic to avoid procrastination (another deadly habit). 
  • Employing concentration techniques, such as mindful meditation to concentrate on one thing at a time. 

Tip: multitasking is very common among aspiring freelancers mostly because they don’t know how to manage their time. So, learning about time management will help you plan your workday more effectively and avoid multitasking. 

Habit #2: Procrastinating

We are all guilty of procrastinating. We know that procrastination kills motivation, but we don’t consider it a deadly habit. 

However, procrastinating can be a deadly habit for freelancers. 

According to the statistics, 40% of people have experienced a financial loss because of procrastination. This shows how massive the impact of procrastination can be on your career as an independent contractor. 

Since your quality of life and your income now depends on your level of income, and, as we learned, procrastination can have a negative impact on it, you cannot allow it in your life. 

So how should you tackle it? 

ClickForTaz, a freelancer, YouTuber, and an Instagram influencer, after discovering that she spent over 9 hours daily on her phone, decided to do an interesting experiment:

Video credit: ClickForTaz

In a video, Taz mocks herself for procrastinating too much and trying to ignore problems and work piling up. After the experiment, though, she gives some tips that can help freelancers pack off procrastination and invite motivation and productivity back into your life:

  • Assume control over what’s your source of procrastination. Whether it’s your phone, some of your household duties or even your family – make sure that you have some time for yourself to work on your projects. 
  • Change the setting helps shift your mindset from procrastinating and bring back motivation. Some freelancers find working from different cafes or coffee shops helpful for concentration and productivity. 
  • The bigger picture is a reminder for you to see the bigger value and the idea behind your work.

The main message behind Taz’s video, however, is finding the cause of procrastination and eliminating it by replacing it with things that drive motivation and productivity. For Taz, the biggest source of procrastination was her phone, so she filled her time with more activities to make sure that there’s no time left for procrastination. 

Habit #3: Being a Yes (wo)man

While freelancers can sometimes unwillingly invite the habits of multitasking and procrastinating into their lives, this habit is fully a matter of choice. 

Many freelancers, and especially beginners, are guilty of saying ‘Yes’ to every project that comes their way. While it is a fairly good practice to help you get on your feet, it can be the reason why you lose your motivation over time. 

What should you do in this case?

Let’s take a look at the example. Influencers often get a lot of collaboration proposals, and it’s their choice, whether they stay true to the value behind their work or start hunting for easy money. 

Cristine Rotenberg, an influencer and a YouTuber known under the nickname SimplyNailLogical, shared her thoughts on why solopreneurs, such as YouTube creators and influencers, should stay true to the value behind their work and not say ‘Yes’ to every collaboration proposal:

Her message to all freelancers and solopreneurs is clear: if you’re going freelance for a reason, you should stick to that reason and not sell yourself. Instead, spend time on perfecting the skills necessary for what you want to do. This might take more time, but it won’t affect your motivation as much as being a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ can. 

Habit #4: Comparing Yourself to Others

Your motivation to become a successful independent contractor may get killed by one deadly habit – comparing yourself to others. 

We want to have the cake and eat it too, this is human nature. Especially, when there are so many people already enjoying the results that you haven’t achieved yet, it’s hard not to compare yourself to them. 

Seeing their success you not having it can force you to question your intention of becoming a freelancer. Hence, all the motivation you had earlier will unavoidably vanish. 

How should you deal with it?

Lily Singh, a comedian, YouTuber, and a host of a TV show, shared her experience and thoughts on the harm that comparing yourself to others can do to your career and personal life:

Video credit: Lily Singh Vlogs

In her vlog, she shares her tips on how to battle this habit:

  • Recognize the effort behind the success of others. Once you realize that there’s hard work behind their success, you’ll be more motivated to put in more effort to achieve the same results. 
  • Realize that you have all the chances to achieve the same success as others, if not more. 
  • Benefit from tunnel vision. Even though tunnel vision in psychology is considered a harmful mentality, you can still benefit from that. This mentality will help you move towards the end result (your light at the end of the tunnel) without seeing any distractions (since the tunnel is dark). This metaphor can help you get rid of unhealthy comparisons with others. 

Tip: For Lily Singh, the main source that brought up this habit was social media. Indeed, social media platforms give us unlimited access to observe others and comparing ourselves to them. To get rid of this habit, you can do a social media detox that will also become your motivation booster. 

Habit #5: Pulling Regular All-Nighters

All freelancers are guilty of it sometimes. Since we were students, this habit wore us out too much that it prompted us to search for best writing help just to tackle some of our assignments, while we can get those precious hours of sleep. 

And why not?

Pulling an all-nighter doesn’t hurt anyone. In fact, it helps us finish our projects on time and not lag behind. 

In reality, all-nighters are the result of bad time management, and they can hurt your motivation. 

While lack of sleep doesn’t have a direct impact on motivation, it still has a collateral effect. 

According to Healthline, lack of sleep causes several cognitive problems, among which are:

  • trouble concentrating
  • memory issues
  • mood changes 

These problems, along with deteriorating physical health, cause stress, which, in its turn, is the death of all the motivation. 

Pulling regular all-nighters can lead to chronic sleep deprivation and other chronic diseases, which may become an insurmountable obstacle for you to become productive and motivated again. 

So, pulling all-nighters, just as being a yes man, depends solely on your choice. Instead of depriving yourself of sleep, invest more time and effort into learning how to manage your time. 

Motivation is Different from How We Perceive It

We often see motivation as a part of the following sequence:

How most people think motivation works

In reality, however, motivation doesn’t cause action but is rather inspired by it:

How motivation actually works

The best way for a freelancer to find motivation is not by looking for inspiration, but rather by acting right away. An action puts your brain into the work mode, immediately eliminating all the distractions. 

But even if you adopt this concept into your work ethic, the above-mentioned motivation-killing habits can still get in the way. 

We’re not going to mislead you: Getting rid of these habits will take some time. But the realization that you have them will already help you get on the right track and work towards creating the lifestyle that you want. 

Daniela McVicker
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