Reward vs. Punishment as a Freelancer – How to Improve Your Output by Being Happier

Now that the holidays are well over, it’s about time I gave the blog some of my attention again. I have given thought to the idea of expanding my topics a bit, as I am frequently in love with the “flavor of the week.” But today’s blog falls in line with my writing on business. That is, being in business for yourself. Freelancers are given the opportunity that few have to do what they want when they want. Many of my freelancing friends on Twitter complain about having to be up by 9AM, or accidentally work into the night. I’m guilty of both. So it comes as no surprise that we control how many hours we work and until when. If I sleep in until 10AM and stop working at 2PM, no ones going to be upset at me – except me.

The Punishment

The problem many of us (“us” meaning freelancers) face is that we are quite driven. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t succeed. We have to push ourselves to accomplish the annoying tasks as well as the fun ones. But when we make a mistake it often results in feeling upset with ourselves. We then over-criticize our failures, or begin to punish ourselves by working longer hours or taking on more projects. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t become a Freelancer so I could work more. I wanted to work less. The same goes for Elliot Jay Stocks. But everyone says that we work more, perhaps even 240 hours more per year!

The Reward

Today I noticed myself pushing very hard to get work done. It wasn’t that I hadn’t done work yesterday, it was merely that I decided I didn’t bill enough hours last week. As a result, my mood went down, I began to get a headache and was just plain unhappy. But 2 weeks ago I didn’t face the same problem. Instead of getting upset, I was rewarding myself. If I worked for 2 hours straight, then I’d stop 30 min early. If I got some paperwork done, then I’d grab some coffee. What I found was that by offering myself a simple reward, I worked harder, happier, and actually exceeded my goals. That 30 min early business? I didn’t do it once. By the time I hit 4:30, I was plowing through work and didn’t even want to stop.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to reward myself more often. Today I was reminded of just how powerful that mindset is, and how we will punish ourselves more frequently than reward. It’s becoming a growing trend in America for companies to reward their employees to improve morale and performance. Why not start doing the same for yourself and see if it improves your life?

Ideas for Rewards

  • Coffee/Tea Break
  • Lunch outside the house/with a friend
  • Video Game/TV breaks
  • Stopping work early
  • Guiltless sleeping in
  • Food splurges
  • Social Network breaks
  • What’s your idea for a reward? I’d love to know in the comments.