Tips for Freelancers to Avoid Burnout
Burnout is when you are suffering from emotional exhaustion. It's also when
you're not as interested in things as you used to be. You feel tired and don't
really care that much about doing your work. You become cynical and feel drained
One way to prevent burnout is to find balance in your daily life. Trust your
instincts and be aware of your limitations. Don't feel that you have to neglect
your own needs. If you start feeling numb inside and don't find joy in the
things you used to love, don't wait. Take action to re-energize yourself. If you
don't, you're sure to eventually crash and burn.
Freelancing gives you a lot of freedom, but that freedom can be dangerous if
not handled properly. To be sure that freelancing brings you the happiness you
hoped for and avoid being burned out by it; you must take care of yourself.
Here are some tips to avoid burnout:
Set Regular Business Hours
Itís best to set certain hours that you will work. Even If you go to your office
and sit there doing nothing, keep yourself on a schedule and don't let your work
creep over into your private life.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that every hour of your week has to be
billable. Aim to be able to bill at most about half of a normal workweek, or 20
hours. Then spend the rest of your normal workweek making calls, doing
bookkeeping, sending out invoices, and just thinking of ways to improve your
Maintain a Diverse Client Base
Sometimes, you get a client that has loads of work for you to do. This one
client keeps you busy, so busy that you don't need to get work from other
While itís reassuring to have so much work, remember that you're not an
employee. The well can dry up very quickly. If you've stopped accepting work
from you existing clients and if you've stopped prospecting for new ones, you
could be left high and dry when the work stops flowing your way.
In addition, only having one or a few clients can lead to boredom and
burnout. Just as it would for a full-time employee who did the same work over
and over again.
Don't be Afraid to Work with Others
We often grow the most when we take a leap of faith. If you have too much work
to do, don't be afraid to farm some of it out to other freelancers. You would
continue to be responsible for the final product and you need to tell your
client that you may hire someone to help you with the project. You also need to
have a contract with the person you're working with to protect yourself. Most
people are honest and by working with others, you may just find that you can
form an alliance that will benefit everybody!
Don't Compromise your Standards
There are few things that can drain your energy more than doing work you donít
believe in or, worse, believe is wrong. Don't think you have to accept every job
that comes your way, especially if they don't feel "right" for you. For example,
if a company asks you to do something that you don't think is ethical, decline
to do the job.
One example of this might be a company who wants you to document what each
employee does because they plan to let several of them go, but they don't want
the employees to know this. This work might bother some people. As you're
working with people, there's a good chance you'll form relationships of some
kind with them. If you don't want to be the instrument of management's little
secret plan simply decline to do the job.
Personally, whenever I've said "no" to a job, I never go into detail about
why I don't want to do it. To me, explaining my morals and reasons doesn't
benefit me or the person I'm talking to in these situations. Instead, I simply
tell them that I can't take on that job at this time. I don't feel that itís my
job to tell others what they should think or how they should live.
In your business dealings, never forget who you are and what you stand for.
Strive to keep an image in your mind about what you want your company and
yourself to be about in five years. Then work to get those jobs that will take
Take Care of the Details
As boring and unpleasant as it might be, you need to keep your records in order.
This is a tough one for me, as it is for most creative types. We tend to want to
forget about keeping the books, sending out past-due reminders, and other things
that are unpleasant. As difficult as it may be to take care of the details, we
need to remember that the details are what allow us to keep doing what we want.
When you're working as an employee, managers know that giving people rewards for
doing a good job helps refresh them and make them even more dedicated to their
jobs. Yet, when we work for ourselves, all too often we forget to reward
ourselves when we do a good job. If you've just finished a particularly
difficult project, give yourself a treat. It might be an afternoon at the spa, a
golf game at a nice course, or anything else that makes you feel pampered and
Set Achievable Goals
If you don't know where you're going, how will you ever know when you've
arrived? Let's say that your goal is to be a successful freelance writer, for
example. What does success mean to you? Does it mean that you're well known and
respected by many? Does it mean that you make $50,000 or $100,000 a year?
Let's just say that your goal is to make $50,000 a year. How will you achieve
that? Will you look for one project that pays you $50,000 that you can complete
in a year? Or will you look for 10 projects that pay $5,000? While there are
projects that pay $50,000 and more, itís not likely that youíll get those when
you first start out. And even if you do, you may not be prepared to handle them.
It's far better to look for 10 projects that pay $5,000. There are more of
them to be found and itís a goal that you can achieve more easily than trying to
find one really large job.
Keep It Interesting
Working on the same project for eight hours can be both exhausting and boring.
Change your focus a few times throughout the day to keep your mind engaged in
what you're doing. Break larger projects up over a few days. If breaking the
project up isnít an option, schedule your time so youíre writing in the morning
and editing in the afternoon. Do anything to refocus your energy so you can stay
Follow Your Dreams
Living our lives according to someone else's ideas or spending our time doing
what we think we "should" be doing rather than what we want to be doing can wear
us down. Stay in touch with the things you really want to achieve in your life.
Take some time to visualize how you would like for your life to be like five
years from now. What will your days look like? What time will you get up? Where
will you work? How many hours a day will you work? What is important to you? How
will you live your life so you can do what means the most to you?
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