We all know it’s hard to stay focused on working. The world is full of distractions and shiny social media updates. So, one of the best ways to boost productivity with your big to do list each and every day is to reward yourself along the way. This is something that has worked for me countless times and is a tool I often recommend to other freelancers who struggle with staying focused.

Here are some examples:

1. Food!

I typically eat a pretty healthy diet, but I have a weakness for sour candy. If I’m working on a large project, I will reward myself with food! I’ll tell myself that if I can finish a certain post or answer a certain amount of e-mails I get a piece of candy. I’ll even put it right by my computer keyboard to keep me motivated and tempt me to keep pushing forward.

I also have a friend who is an accomplished author. He does the opposite. He won’t allow himself to eat until he’s written 2,000 words for the day. This is not something that I recommend from a health perspective, but his hunger forces him to keep writing until he is done. Then he has a nice, big meal! Hey, whatever works right?

2. Free Time

Freelancers rarely take the time to enjoy a break. So, one way you can motivate yourself is to schedule in some free time. This could mean buying a movie ticket in advance, knowing that you can’t go to the movie unless you finish a certain project. It could also mean planning to out for drinks with friends or just take a stroll through the mall on a Sunday afternoon. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, don’t let yourself do it until you’re finished your work. It helps if you plan something and have a set time for when you want to enjoy your free time. That way you have a self-imposed deadline for your work.

3. Pampering

Whether you’re male or female, everyone loves a little pampering every now and then. You can go get a massage or a manicure after you reached a specific goal. One way to do this is to purchase a massage or a salon treatment off of Groupon and put the printed out Groupon on your desk as motivation.

When you finish a big project, go ahead and schedule your massage!

The point is that it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re a freelancer because most freelancers work by themselves with no boss telling them what to do. So, be a great boss to yourself and offer yourself incentives for a job well done. This will not only make you a happier worker, but it’ll make you a more successful worker too.

What type of rewards or incentives would make you work harder?

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications and in national media.

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