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Focus, Focus Focus: Guest Post by Susan Smith-Grier

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Focus, Focus, Focus


Becoming a freelance writer or virtual assistance takes a lot of time, determination and focus. If you’ve left your job to become a freelancer, then you have the time to do the work. For stay at home moms it may be a little different. You may have some juggling and arranging to do in your daily schedule.

Presumably if you’ve given up something for this endeavor, such as your regular paying job, then you most likely have the determination to make it work. Determination is going to be key in honing your skills, seeking clients and perusing the job markets. Chances are your new freelance career will more resemble an uphill battle than the work-in-your-jammies lifestyle that may be floating around in your head. In fact, don’t be surprised if you find yourself working harder and longer than you did at your regular job. With determination, you will make it though.

Now comes the stickler – focus. Unless you have superhuman powers of unwavering concentration, focus may be a challenge for you. As a freelancer you will need to do research of one sort or another and as a person who wants to excel at it, you will always be on the look-out for just the right phrasing, just the right word, just the right formatting. Your client may not have all the information you need so you will have to go on the internet and find it. You may end up writing guest blogs to get your name “out there” and that means you will need to research different blogs to find out which one suits your style or niche.

Some people will have no problem staying on task. Those lucky souls will find whatever it is they need and get right back to the project at hand. Many, especially those prone to creativity and the super curious may have a more difficult time. You know who you are. You are the one who looks a word up in the dictionary or thesaurus and gets distracted by all the other unusual sounding words or the pictures on the sidebar. Those who look up words online can easily be distracted by the interesting word games, etymologies, and word related fun that’s often included on dictionary site.

Research poses a real difficulty here. There is so much information available and to the curious, it’s eye candy and the temptation is to sample as much as possible. This sampling often leads you down a rabbit trail of interesting trivia to share with no one in particular and it sucks time out of your productivity. One site leads to another; one comment leads to another; one tempting morsel of celebrity gossip leads to. . .  You get the idea!

So, how do you stay focused when there is so much vying for your attention? Determination and discipline. You entered this field for a reason. Keep that in the front of your brain. You must determine that you are going to focus on the task at hand and do what’s necessary to get the job done and get it done on time. Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Use Google to look up words. When you need a definition, most of the time Google will have it for you without all the additional fluff you find on dictionary sites.
  • Set a timer. It’s amazing how much work you can get done in 20 minutes. Set your timer for a predetermined amount of time and when it goes off take a SHORT break. If you have a tendency to wander, set your timer for break time too. 5 minutes should be enough and make sure that your work time is not too long. Working is shorter spurts like 20 minutes is good for your eyes, your body and your brain.
  • Bookmark tempting sites. If you’re prone to go to all the cool websites you encounter in your research, or there’s a list of comments on a blog that’s just screaming to be read, set up a special folder and bookmark the items to be read during non-work time.
  • Practice focusing on the project at hand. Face it. This is going to take some disciplined practice which is what you use when you are learning any new skill. Use affirmations, talk to yourself, use a blocker for Facebook and email; whatever it takes, practice focusing on your work.

It would be wonderful if freelance work was as easy as our minds lead us to believe. Unfortunately it’s not that way. However if you cultivate discipline in your work habits, you can be one of those who succeed at it and make it look easy.


Freelance Writer, Speaker and Storyteller. Susan Smith-Grier is a stay at home daughter helping to care for her aging mom. She is also staking her claim in the world of freelance writing which affords her the freedom to be a
caretaker. She enjoys the variety of assignments from articles to poetry. Susan is also working on
a novel, a book of short stories and a compilation of poetry. Connect with Susan on LinkedIn.

About Becky Flansburg

Becky Flansburg is freelance writer, blogger and virtual assistant living in Northern Minnesota. A dedicated mom to two beautiful kids, her veteran blog is filled with laughter and love about the joys parenthood. Becky is also committed to helping women realize their work-from-home dreams, enjoy life beyond the cubicle and find clarity in the work/life/family balance. Connect with Becky via her website, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest