How To Focus During Uncertainty And Coronavirus


As the entire humanity is holed up in houses to fight the Coronavirus outbreak, it is hard not to be affected by the general melancholy surrounding the planet. I work from home most of the days, and there are days when I don’t leave my apartment at all and don’t have a conversation with anyone the entire day. Now, all this seems unbearable, although there is no marked difference in my life as such. I seemed to be living in self-isolation for all practical purposes. So the change here is `forced’ isolation. In normal circumstances, it is my choice not to move out of my home, but now that choice is gone. It is a difficult time for sure. 

Freelancers typically handle uncertainty on a day-to-day basis. There is uncertainty about the market, the client, work, whether the client is going to make the payment on time, whether you will get new assignments in the coming month, whether you will meet your goal if the client will move towards the retainer model and so on. The list is endless. For many, this uncertainty is the biggest reason not to join the freelancing bandwagon and continue with the job that sucks. 

Focusing during uncertainty

Of course, it is different for everyone, but I find that I thrive in uncertain or difficult times. I did some of my best stories, and my freelancing journey really took off when I was going through a challenging and stressful time in my personal life. 

I find that I am able to work with more focus and clarity when I am under pressure. It is tough to explain, but the priorities become crystal clear when the going gets tough. I don’t procrastinate, which sometimes is my tendency, and I don’t spend hours and hours on social media. 

I am, in fact, in the zone where the maximum work gets done in the minimum time. This is similar to when I am working on a project I am passionate about, or when I have a pressing deadline. 

I try to work in a `zone’ by adopting these fairly common methods, that work for me:

  • Switching off time guzzlers like social media websites and mobile games. I once spent two hours playing Blockudoku without moving. I had shoulder pain by the end of it. But it can be dramatically different. I wrote a 1000-word blog post for a client in flat two hours for a client because I wanted to get back to Money Heist on Netflix. So, you decide how you want to use your obsession but ensure that these time guzzlers don’t rule your life. 
  • When I really want to focus on an assignment or a task, I will switch off everything that can derail me. I am known in my family to disconnect my landline and not check my email and WhatsApp for a few hours every day. It can be anything that affects your focus. For instance, I typically have several tabs open on my browser, but when I start writing, I close most of them and keep only a few (not more than four) relevant ones open. 
  • Multitask can be your enemy and friend, like most things. I do multitask, so I might be researching for a story, preparing information to be sent to my Chartered Accountant for tax filing, and reverting to a client at the same time. But I stop all this when I have to produce a stellar copy. I know from experience that real writing happens only with focus. 

I would advise you to make the best use of this time when you are forced to be at home. This is a perfect opportunity to open that unfinished novel draft or redo your website or any other project that you are putting off. I talk at length about how to manage your time effectively for maximum productivity in my course on Managing Business As A Freelancer. You can also download a free e-book on Eight Essential Qualities of High-Income Freelancers

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