Getting out of a rut

Okay, its officially Spring and time to move ahead. Whether you’re looking for more freelance work (see April 2nd post), or promising yourself you’ll apply ass to chair until your next assignment is done, or trying to find time to finish your income tax return, life is passing you by.

deskYou know you want to goof off once summer arrives, so aim for a big Spring blast of productivity. Open the windows, clean up the piles of unfinished and unread work, and plow through until you tackle six good things you want to get done this month.

Much of what we do is habit, and habits can hold us back. Yet, they feel comfortable so we rarely realize the hours wasted by not getting out of a rut. That’s the purpose of deadlines, and as freelancers we know the deadline is often the only reason we write.

In “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” by Charles Duhigg, we learn that some of our habitual behavior comes from the brain’s “cue, routine, reward” system, where we’re driven to enjoy goofing off, or we spend hours delaying on a deadline because that’s what we’re used to it.

But our bad choices in the morning don’t have to take over the whole day. Recognize when you’re slacking off, and you’ll likely be able to change the pattern. If you don’t want a project to take all day, then give yourself two hours to work non-stop and get it done. Even if not perfect, I’d bet you’ll be much further along than if you keep putting it off.

Make sense?

Now, as for the looming tax deadline…. I’ve got to get back to it!

BIO: Helen Gallagher joined to share her thoughts on small business and technology. Her blogs and books are accessible through She is a member of ASJA, Small Publishers Artists & Writers Network, and several great Chicago-area writing groups.