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Oh December. Christmas is almost here. Tis’ the season for caring, giving, and burnout.
Wait? What was that? Burnout?
Yup. Burnout is a very real deal. I’ve heard of it in every profession I’ve been around.
You know, that feeling that you just can’t give your job any more. The feeling when you’re ready to throw in the towel and call it quits.
When you’re a freelancer, working without vacation time or paid holidays, you might be struggling even more this year. I know I’ve felt with it at times, especially as I was trying to juggle a full-time college course load on top of all my other responsibilities.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from this sensation. Here are eight tips for avoiding burnout as a freelancer.
1. Establish Boundaries
If you don’t have boundaries with your clients, you’re more prone to burning out. That’s because you’re always accessible to your clients.
You can’t take time off because one of them might need you. And you feel responsible for getting back to them ASAP.
So set yourself some office hours, have an “off” time for your social media presence, and give yourself some time. You aren’t meant to work all the time. That’s a sure-fire recipe for wanting to quit!
2. Schedule an Off Day or Two Each Week
One huge perk of being a freelancer is that you are responsible for working with clients to establish deadlines. You know about how long each should take. So make it a priority to give yourself enough of a buffer in your schedule that you can easily take a day or two off each week.
I’ve started scheduling so I don’t work on the weekends, except when absolutely necessary. I may still put in some time on the weekends, but that’s typically to get ahead for a needed day off in the week.
For instance, I’m writing this post on a Saturday night because Christmas is coming, and I still have some shopping to do! And for me that means an hour drive to the stores first. And a long drive home too.
So it’s worth it for me to work now to have more time later.
What can you shift around in your schedule to free up some time? Knowing that you have a day where you don’t HAVE to work is a huge mental relief.
And if you want to work when your off day comes around, you still can. You just don’t HAVE to.
But try not to. Read a book. Watch some television. Enjoy your family. Do something YOU enjoy.
3. Get Enough Sleep
This is an area I struggle greatly with. I rarely get enough sleep, and it’s starting to take a toll on me as I get further along in my pregnancy.
The kids are even noticing. They keep asking me if I need some more sleep. Um…yes!
So since sleeping all night is out of the question right now due to my oldest son’s sleeping disorder and these crazy seizure med adjustments we keep dealing with, I’ve been trying to make it a priority to nap during quiet time.
Yes, I have a million things on my to-do list and I’d rather do them most days.
But, if I don’t get enough sleep, all of tasks take WAY longer. My poor brain doesn’t process quiet as quickly, and I make tons of stupid errors.
To recap, without sleep, my work ends up taking longer and needing redone. I’m less productive.
So make sure you’re sleeping. When you’re exhausted and trying to work, all you want to do is go to bed (at least that’s how I feel). That means I’m more likely to experience the burnout feeling when lacking on sleep.
4. Don’t Procrastinate
Honestly, this one is a struggle for me as well. I started procrastinating back in middle school. I’d wait until the morning bus ride to do the homework that was due that day.
I was on the bus for over an hour, so I usually made it, but it started a bad habit. It continued throughout high school. I’d wait to write my paper the night before it was due. (Once I was required to type assignments, I could no longer do them on the bus!)
I felt like I did my best work if I had the pressure of needing to get it done.
I still feel that way. There must be a hormone rush of some kind when dealing with a tight deadline, I don’t know.
So now I give myself two deadlines for each of my client tasks. One is my deadline. It’s when I plan on actually sitting down and doing the assignment.
That’s usually a day or two before the actual due date.
I still get my procrastination pressure feeling, but I’m not actually procrastinating. If something were to come up, I’d still have a couple of days to get it done.
And that’s a much better feeling.
5. Eliminate Unnecessary Work
Are there any tasks you do just because everyone else is doing them?
You don’t have to run your business like everyone else. You have to do what works for you.
Think through the tasks you’re doing. Are there any steps you can stop doing without directly impacting your bottom line?
For me it was social media. When my plate was too full, I pulled way back in that area. Yes, it probably slowed the growth of my readership on my blogs.
But something had to go.
I’ll eventually pick it back up. Maybe.
Until then, I’m not going to stress about not doing any more than the basic sharing of my posts.
What can you let go of?
6. Schedule Time to Play
If you have kids, make sure you’re spending time playing with them. We have family play time everyday before quiet time. And then each kid gets a half hour of special time with me on their day.
It’s not a ton of time, but it allows us to come together and enjoy life. It’s a time to focus on being mom and not being momfreelancerfarmervalisa.
I like just being mom. I like taking off all the other hats for a while and purposefully enjoying my family. The kids like knowing that they get my attention at this regularly scheduled time.
If you’re wearing all of your hats all day long, you’re going to burnout. Your head wasn’t meant to wear that much for extended periods of time.
We might be able to do it all, but we can’t do it all all the time.
7. Get Away from the Computer to Eat
I’m guilty of eating meals at the computer. It’s usually when I’ve procrastinated and am now trying frantically to finish.
But I usually end up eating more when I eat in front of my computer screen. Not to mention my keyboard usually winds up sticky afterwards. I’m not always the neatest eater! 😀
So get up and walk away. Go to the table and eat. Just remember to hit save first. Because otherwise your toddler might accidentally hit too many buttons on your keyboard and freeze up your computer.
Yes, I’m speaking from experience! I spent a lot of time Googling how to recover unsaved documents that day. Thankfully I found it in a remote file on my computer. I was so thankful! And now I’m more careful.
Taking a purposeful break will help you come back refreshed and ready to tackle work again.
8. Tackle Priority Projects First
As a mom, my to-do list can be rather intimidating. There’s always something to teach, clean, accomplish.
So setting priorities is essential. I have to focus on what my must-dos are.
Then once those are accomplished, I can rest knowing that everything else can wait if it has to.
But, if I set priorities and then get sidetracked by a less essential work project, I end up feeling behind. Then I have to put in more hours to get done what I should have done first. It’s a nasty cycle to break.
So I make prioritizing a priority, and do essential tasks first.
What tips can you add?
If you’ve dealt with burnout and come through, what tips can you add? I’d love for you to share your comments.
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