The Embarrassing Pavlovian Truth Behind How I Get Shit Done

Turns Out All It Takes To Get Me To Do Things I Don’t Like Is Giving Me La Croix

You ever wish you could go back a year, two years, ten, and tell yourself something you knew now?

‘Become a freelancer earlier.’
‘Start taking care of yourself.’
‘Floss every day.’
‘Don’t eat at that diner in Peru….’
‘Build your online business.’

Of course, you do! We all have things we’d love to go back and fix. In hindsight you wouldn’t wear that outfit, avoid going out that night and miss that amazing concert, or buy shrimp because they don’t smell ‘that bad’.

One thing I wish I could go back and tell myself as a freelancer is this,

‘Focus less on motivation and more on execution.’

Here’s why…

Motivation Is The Freelancer Version of a Sugar High

You ever been motivated? It feels great, doesn’t it! All of your anxieties step into the background, you realize you can achieve all your freelancer goals, and you get real excited until…

You crash. And when you do you end up back in your body with the same issues. Motivation, although fun, is ultimately useless.

What you need are systems.

Why Systems Beat Motivation

Other freelance bloggers don’t share systems because they aren’t popular. Guess what. I don’t care. One good system beats out ten thousand motivational IG posters.
 The problem is systems are the homework of the freelancing world. Remember homework? It was that thing you did on the weeknights before bed while your friends played video games and texted.

You hated homework. You wanted to be with your friends. Well, guess what. Your friends are drowning in debt with degrees they aren’t using (and barely got in the first place) because they didn’t do their homework. Sure they got into college but by then it was too late.

They didn’t have the foundation needed to:

*Handle large loads of work
 *Juggle multiple tasks and deadlines
 *And know when to seek help

Systems create advantages. Create the advantage you want with the advice I wish I had as a freelancer a year ago.

My System To Cross Every Bridge In My Journey

Execution is the most valuable skill you can develop as a freelancer. It applies at every level. To help you apply execution at your level I included three different options (one at each level) to help you understand the results execution will get for you.

Beginner Freelancer $5-$500 Month:

At this level learning to execute will help you discover what works, what doesn’t, and how to identify a good client from a bad one. Execution will cut time wasted with bad clients, writing proposals that won’t get looked at, and get you started making money.

Side Hustler Freelancer $550-$1500 Month:

At this level execution will help you learn to attract and book premium clients. Execution will make this transition faster, help you learn the exact strategies and language premium clients want, and pitch the contract size and level of engagement premium clients look for.

Freelance Business Owner $3,000-$10,000 Month:

When you reach this level executing faster means being able to increase your thought leadership and attract 5-figure contracts, discover the exact referral system you need to create an endless stream of clients, and more.

So how did I increase execution? I used ‘To-Do’ lists.

My ‘To-Do’ List For Increasing Execution

Our minds respond quickly when trained properly. I use ‘To-Do’ lists to train my mind and make new habits.

Habits are steroids for freelancers. Once you create a habit you lower the mental energy required to accomplish it. A personal example is how much I hated writing proposals. Tell me, does this sound familiar?

Every day I had to fight myself to sit down, find gigs, write proposals, and send them. What I could have done in an hour was spread out over three because I kept getting distracted doing other things. Now I can sit down and write five to six proposals in an hour every day.

What changed? I made it a habit by putting it on my ‘To-Do’ list.

I did the same with execution. Every day I picked three things I wanted to execute and put them on my ‘To-Do’ list. If it sounds too easy to work don’t worry, it does Why? For me, there is the satisfaction of checking something off my ‘to-do’ list. For you, it might be positioning it in your day when you are at your best or your energy is highest making it easy to accomplish.

The System Works For Two Reasons

1: You make it easy to succeed:

When you know you have to do something you pick the best time to do it. This keeps you from trying to do a taxing project right before lunch when you are tired, distracted, and hungry. This seems simple but executing projects at the right time makes completing it easier.

2: You get satisfaction for your accomplishment:

I love checking things off my ‘to-do’ list. It is a nice reminder that I am accomplishing my goals and that I am making the most of my day. You can get psychological leverage for yourself with rewards. I used La Croix. When I finished my proposals for the days I took five minutes to enjoy one. This worked for me because it has a sharp taste (unlike coffee or water), a distinct sound (opening the can), and a feel (the can feels cold fresh from the fridge). All of these small things cemented the process in my mind.

Learn More Systems At My FB Live Hangout

Interested in learning more systems like this? Join me and a couple special guests on November 30th for a FB live event.

I know most of my Medium readers aren’t on my mailing list. Get on it, as least for this event. Sign up gets you a free ultimate guide and four epic emails along with a note when it goes live.

Feel free to leave after if you want. You’ll still get epic content on here all the time (although you’ll miss out on special offers, discounts, etc).

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Originally published at on November 15, 2017.