Back when I started freelancing in 2005, my working day was straightforward and quiet. I checked my emails a couple of times, but other than that I spent the day editing in Microsoft Word or marking up paper proofs at the kitchen table. A break involved making a cup of coffee and drinking it by the window, watching the birds on the lawn. Simple, calm and super-productive.
Fast-forward a decade, right through the dawn and explosion of social media, and a working day could look very different. I could check my emails a dozen times or more. I could drift onto Twitter, LinkedIn, my blog, news sites, all sorts of websites relating to my work – and, of course, many more that aren’t remotely useful for my job (YouTube video of a trampolining hamster, anyone?). I could spend the whole day sitting at my desk flitting in and out of Microsoft Word and the many internet browsers I have set up. A break could well involve making a cup of coffee and drinking it while checking even more content on my phone. Simple, calm and super-productive? Not remotely.
Note the conditional tense usage in the preceding paragraph. I could do all that, but I don’t. Any successful freelancer has to be organised and disciplined. I ensure that’s always the case in my working day by using a program called Freedom.
A simple solution: block the internet
Freedom does exactly what it says on the tin: it frees me to concentrate. With a couple of clicks, I block the internet for a designated amount of time.
… only the words on the page I’m writing or editing.
When I find a word or term I need to check, I simply highlight it and move on. For two or three hours, the world recedes: it’s just me and the words, as it used to be, as it must be. Simple, calm and super-productive.
Creating ‘am writing’ time
Freedom is ideal for work and study. But it’s also invaluable for creative time.
How easy it is to carve out the time to write your book, only to waste that time online. You can tell yourself you’re researching or learning or being inspired, but you’re not. You’re procrastinating. Fiddling about online is easy; writing is hard – really hard.
Dorothy Parker put it best:
I hate writing, I love having written.
If you want to ‘have written’, you’ve got to get through the ‘am writing’ stage. The only way to do that is to give yourself the freedom to write: no distractions, no excuses, just you and the page for hours, over and over again.
What could you achieve if you gave yourself the complete freedom to do so?
Then, if you don’t already use Freedom, I suggest checking it out at https://freedom.to/.