This is a picture of my daughter a quiz in her forensic science class…
This year, as a junior in high school, she started attending school virtually.
It’s the first time in her life that she was free to do her work in the way that works best for her.
She has all A’s and B’s in her classes.
For our family, this confirms what we’ve believed for years…
Traditional school is horribly OUTDATED.
Which is about the most polite word I can use to describe it.
For today, I’ll skip past the rant about traditional school being a system designed to perpetuate mind control and manufacture social class structure.
Because the point I want to explore with you most is…
Why we fail to complete things…
Even when we start them with the best intentions.
I had over 70 conversations with subscribers to my email list last week (that’s you!) about what keeps them from getting what they want from freelance copywriting.
Many people cited the overwhelm of trying to learn from courses.
They feel guilty about signing up for courses that they never finish – or even begin.
There are a few known reasons this happens…
- Shiny object syndrome. The insatiable desire to jump to the “new thing” before completing the first thing.
- Lack of support. Being left alone to work your way through the course with no guidance or accountability.
- External factors. “Life events” like illness or other catastrophes that disrupt your plans. (Although, if this is a persistent reason, I would propose that the real problem is perspective, rather than actual circumstance.)
The majority of the proven factors that keep us from completing things is on us to figure out and fix.
No easy task, but certainly worth the effort.
However, the #1 known reason we don’t complete courses is…
Incompatible Learning Style
Which brings us back to traditional schooling.
The idea that every young student learns best in the same style and environment is simply ridiculous. (Ohp. Rant… too… strong… to… fight…)
For one, teens need a lot of sleep. A least 8-10 hours. Yet, their natural circadian rhythm has them most alert and productive in the EVENING.
So, rustling them awake before sunrise to arrive at school before 8am, where they will be forced to sit quietly in a chair, switching between SEVEN different subjects, until afternoon is…
… just STUPID.
Yet, that is the expectation we continue to accept as the standard.
What kind of person does this identify early in life?
A creative thinker?
A natural problem solver?
Perhaps, a good “worker bee.”
To give credit to educators, they are well aware of this problem.
After all, they are the ones who spend every day doing their best to pump some light into the brains of these under-slept, over-caffeinated, screen-distracted, and hormone-ravaged teens.
I don’t blame the ones who give up on it. And I deeply respect the ones who find a way of breaking through.
What does this mean for YOU?
As a grown-ass adult.
Who is continually frustrated with yourself for not completing courses… managing projects better… and avoiding things you don’t like doing?
It means that your FIRST job as a freelancer is to…
Learn to work like a pro before
you are called on to be a pro.
Meaning, figure out what it takes for you to deliver a project in advance of getting paid for one.
Some trial and error is required here, so it’s important to start now.
If you’re already working with clients and your process feels like a shitshow, then it’s time to restructure.
Here are a few basic things to determine:
When will you get your work done?
Keep in mind you’ll need both focused creative time, and time for admin stuff. If you’re squeezing your freelance work alongside another job, will you do your project work at night, after everyone else is in bed? Or early in the morning before they wake up? What about client and prospecting calls? You’ll need a quiet area with a decent-looking background for those. No blurred backgrounds on Zoom. They reduce trust.
Where will you do your work?
Find a space where you feel comfortable and do ONLY creative work. Don’t mix environments. It could be a coffee shop, the kitchen table, your bedroom, or even a different chair in your office. Just establish an area that lends itself to creative, distraction-free work. No blips, beeps, or alerts! Aim for focused, steady production.
Who will help you stay focused?
If you have a family, a significant other, or roommates, get buy-in from them on your goal of establishing a work routine at home. Your work time is not “free time,” so no requests to do other stuff during your work time. They need to “pretend you’re not there.”
Track your time.
Get in the habit of tracking your time using an app like Toggl. It’s important to see how many hours it’s taking you to complete things. Both creative work and admin tasks. That way you will know your “effective hourly rate” so you can set your pricing accordingly.
Like I said, this will take some trial and error to get right. But, it’s worth the effort.
Once you dial it in, you’ll have an established routine, and your production will go through the roof.
Remember, you’re fighting for your freedom.
This is the stuff most people aren’t willing to do. So they relegate themselves to a JOB where other people tell them where to be, what to do, and what they’re worth.
You’re different. By choice.
Go get what’s waiting on you.