Habits Productivity Writing

A Yard is Hard, But an Inch is a Cinch – A FocusMe Success Story

A FocusMe Success Story with Freelance Content Writer Steve

I wanted to highlight a reader success story after receiving an email from a very satisfied customer. Proud FocusMe user Steve is a content writer who USED to have a productivity problem.  He NEVER missed a deadline, not even once, but he did have a big problem with procrastination and time management. 

Steve told us that FocusMe is an indispensable tool for a freelancer who is constantly on the move. We asked him to share how he uses FocusMe for increased productivity, so that others could benefit from his story. Luckily for us he agreed.

Jon:  Steve, please tell us about yourself.

Steve:  I am a freelance content writer so I write online content like blogs, ebooks, brochures, pretty much anything you can think of.  I have a surface level knowledge of many different subjects due to my work, so I can carry on a conversation in just about anything.  I like working remotely because location independence is important to me. The only thing I really need to work is my laptop and a proper work environment, so I generally stay in Airbnb condos.

Before I got into freelance content writing, I had a typical 9-5 sales job.  Most people aren’t aware of the day to day reality of being a self-employed freelancer.  You don’t just punch in and get paid for showing up like you often do at a normal job.  At least my experience was that there were lots of little opportunities for people to slack off.  Management was always talking about time management and increasing productivity, but a lot of us didn’t really care because to some extent, we got paid for just showing up and going through the motions.

Jon:  You mentioned you had a major struggle with procrastination.

Steve:  I had a tremendous procrastination problem. When you are self-employed you either do the work or you don’t get paid. I usually agree on a price with my clients before I begin the job. I get paid the same amount of money whether the job takes 15 minutes or 2 days. I cannot tell you how many times I sat down to do a job that should have taken anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, but 5 hours later I hadn’t started because I was busy chatting on social media or on a skype call. An occasional lapse of discipline like this is not a big deal, but when it becomes your regular routine you know you need to find a way to block social media. 

I like to think of myself as a gifted conversationalist, and always felt I had a way with words. Fortunately I built myself up to where nearly all of my clients are longstanding relationships, and I occasionally take on a new client if I am introduced and it feels right. My situation and experience gave me the confidence in knowing I could come up with something decent at the last minute. Unfortunately I took this to the extreme and it actually became a major crutch. 

My affinity for writing meant that I could get away carrying on like this, but there was no doubt in my mind that the quality of my work suffered. The thing that suffered the most though was my quality of life. Always waiting until the last minute to do a project meant that there was always something to NOT look forward to, like a black cloud hanging over my head. 

Jon:  It’s sure not easy to fully enjoy yourself and live in the moment knowing there is always a deadline lurking around the corner. 

Steve:  No it isn’t. I even considered going back to a normal office job because I didn’t think I would ever be able to live a balanced life. I didn’t think I would be able to properly schedule and complete assignments in advance. Thankfully my buddy who is a very successful internet marketer personally tested a bunch of productivity apps or website blockers and he recommended I get FocusMe. I was able to use it to make a few simple changes that had a big impact on the bottom line: My quality of life. 

I am very grateful for even finding this app! 

Jon:  We’re glad you found us!

Steve:  Having a serious procrastination problem like I did meant I was unable to properly plan out my day. I was unable to sit down, work for 4-5 hours, bang out a few jobs and then go to lunch or finish up for the day and go enjoy life. Unless I had a deadline looming over me, I was unable to be truly productive. You can imagine the impact this had on my social and dating life!   

Jon:  You say that you had a serious procrastination problem, and from our previous chat, you seem to strongly stand by that assessment. But I think there are A LOT of self-employed folks out there who have procrastination problems just as bad or even worse than you describe! I think a lot of people feel alone in their struggle with procrastination, and we want them to know they are absolutely not alone.

Steve: Oh absolutely! This is a problem that is far more insidious than most people care to admit. You as a human being are worth the small amount of time and effort it takes to develop a routine for success. With the help of a productivity app like FocusMe, you are all but guaranteed to see a big improvement. You can even sign up for a 14-day FREE TRIAL of FocusMe, so there is no excuse. You are worth it!  (Chuckles)  I sound like a walking advertisement.  You guys should be paying me because I am literally going around telling everyone about you. But seriously, I wouldn’t be singing your praises if you didn’t really help me in a major way.   

Before I found FocusMe, many times I would need to turn in a job the next morning and it would already be past midnight. At that point I didn’t need to block sites or use an app blocker. Fear of losing a client was all it took for me to buckle down and get the job done. Naturally, living like this had a really negative effect on my health as my stress levels were through the roof!

When I started using FocusMe, I immediately solved my social media addiction problem. Overnight I became more productive and it was some of the best money I ever spent, but after a few weeks I started procrastinating again by reading ebooks on my computer. Even though I was never really into games, I found myself playing some silly Tetris style game. I knew I was slipping back into bad habits. 

Jon:  How did you prevent a full blown relapse?

Steve:  I needed to learn better time management skills. I also wasn’t harnessing the full power of FocusMe. I was just turning it on when I sat down and decided it was time to be productive. I had barely scratched the surface of what FocusMe could do for me. Eventually I used it to block everything that distracted me, but I also needed to make some lifestyle adjustments. Letting FocusMe play a key part in that helped a lot.

There are a million different time management resources out there and it is easy to get bogged down, so I feel fortunate that I found what works for me. I plan out my entire week in advance with a rough outline. This is always changing slightly and that is unavoidable. Every evening I plan out the next day in as much detail as possible. I decide what I want to accomplish and allot reasonable blocks of time for the jobs I need to complete. 

What has been crucial, and I cannot stress this enough: I set FocusMe to block distractions for entire chunks of the day the night before. When my head hits the pillow, FocusMe is set and I don’t have to worry about getting distracted by social media or random websites or apps the next day. I know that the next morning from 8am I am only going to be able to access certain sites for 10 minutes every hour. If I want to mindlessly surf the web, I have to do it before 8am or between 1 and 2pm. 

Now sometimes I do struggle with actually sitting down to do the work. I may go outside for a long walk and procrastinate that way, but at least I am not mindlessly surfing the web. This is something I haven’t completely mastered yet and I don’t know if I ever will. But to err is human, no? 

There is a saying that goes ‘Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life’s hard.’ That is a bit long for me so I modified it to create my own mantra: ‘A yard is hard, but an inch is a cinch.’ I find that if I just start working that after a few minutes I get into a meditative groove and the process just flows. I am always saying to myself ‘An inch is a cinch!’ I literally say it at least 20 times a day and it seems to work.

These simple changes in approaching my day have had a wonderful effect on my life. I usually have my assignments completed more than a few days in advance, and I am just a much happier person in general now that I am not always worrying about deadlines. You could say that FocusMe has helped me to focus my life for greater happiness. That definitely sounds over the top, but since we already established that I’m a walking advertisement for you guys I don’t mind going a little over the top. 

Jon:  That might be a little over the top but we’re very happy to have helped you find a routine that works for you.  Thank you for taking the time to chat with us and share your success story with our readers!

Steve:  The pleasure has been all mine.