As a young woman diagnosed with ADHD, I’ve found freelancing preferable to the traditional 9-to-5 job. A perpetual night owl, I struggle with early commutes. As such, having the ability to sleep in until noon and then write in my pajamas is amazing. I can work on my own time and at my own pace. While I stumbled upon the freelancing career by accident, I thank my lucky stars that I found a line of work so suited to my personal needs.
That being said, freelance writing has its drawbacks, especially for ADHD adults. Lack of structure can be a huge problem for adults with ADHD, especially when combined with the unlimited distractions brought on by the internet. Working at home can also be a distraction, especially if you have a messy house (and how many ADHD adults don’t?) or kids underfoot. And networking with clients and other writers-especially through Facebook and Twitter-can turn into a huge procrastination session, thus unraveling the best-laid plans.
So how do you keep distractions to a minimum when you’re freelance writing from home? Here are a few strategies that have proven helpful:
Set Daily Goals For Freelance Writing
In freelance writing, there is no external structure set up to guide you. Instead, you have to provide that structure for yourself. Traditionally, this is a task that adults with ADHD struggle with. The best way to provide structure is to write specific goals each day before you begin working. Like any goal, these need to be measurable and within your ability to accomplish.
I usually write goals having to do with the number of articles I want to complete in a given writing session, and which sites I plan to write the articles for. For example, today I set a goal of completing three direct orders on Textbroker, one article for Ecopywriters and two articles for the Yahoo Contributors Network. Other freelance writers prefer to set goals related to the number of words they intend to write, or the amount of time they plan to spend on each article. I suggest trying a few different types of goals and then doing whatever works the best for you.
Set Goals for Social Networking
In addition to setting goals for the amount of freelance writing I plan to do, I also set parameters for my social networking. Today, my goal was to spend 15 minutes networking with other writers through Facebook, and another 15 minutes updating my Twitter account. When I give myself a time limit for social networks, I am less likely to procrastinate on other tasks, especially if I set an alarm on my cell phone.
Turn Off Your Phone
Speaking of cell phones, I highly suggest turning your phone on silent or keeping it off altogether. In an age of text messaging, cell phones can be unbelievably distracting. Stash your cell phone in another room in order to resist the urge to check for missed calls and texts every five minutes.
Keep Your Writing Space Clean
This advice is easily the most difficult for me to follow. I am, by nature, an extremely messy person. Even as I type this, there are stacks of paper hiding in my desk drawers. But the key word here is hiding. You don’t need to go on a massive cleaning rampage before you start freelance writing, but it does help to keep clutter out of sight.
This tip applies to anybody in the world of freelance writing, but is all the more essential for ADHD adults. You will find it easier to concentrate if you take a short stretch break at least once an hour. Adults with ADHD need a lot of exercise, so a short walk makes for an ideal break. Not only will this help you focus on the task at hand, it is a great way to banish writer’s block.