If you’ve left the world of 9-to-5 behind for freelance work, you probably rarely regret that decision. It’s fulfilling work where you can set your own hours and live wherever you’d like. But, there’s also a downside. It’s incredibly easy to get burnout.
Experiencing burnout shouldn’t be taken lightly. It can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion like insomnia and increased illness. There’s also a chance that you can become isolated, detached, and experience a decrease in production. None of that is good for you personally or professionally.
To prevent that from happening, here are 7 tips that freelancers should try if they want to avoid getting burned out.
1. Establish Boundaries
One of the more common reasons that freelancers face burnout is that they overcommit and accept too many projects. While it’s tough to tell a client ‘no’ it’s essential if you want to continue to produce quality work on a consistent basis.
Before arguing on a new project, you should ask yourself if you have the time, qualifications, and interest in the new gig. If not, it’s acceptable to inform the client that you can’t take on the project.
Speaking of boundaries, you should also set clear working hours. Working too many hours is another way that freelancers can get burnt out. While that can be a challenge – sometimes a project takes longer than anticipated and there are deadlines that have to met – it’s important that you create a work schedule that works best for you. Maybe you’re most productivity at night of the house is empty during certain times of the day. Those should be the times that you work and you should try to stick to those hours as much as possible so that you’re not working 12 hour days. And, yes, that schedule can be flexible.
2. Ask For Help
Is that a project that’s stressing you out? Do you dread doing your own taxes? Are you terrible at editing your written content? Those could be the times when you call-on a fellow freelancer to lend a hand – instead of getting overwhelmed and frustrated.
What’s great about turning to your fellow freelancers for help is that you can actually find talented individuals on the same places where you would normally find freelance gigs. With sites like LinkedIn, Elance, Fiverr, or Craigslist you can find writers, designers, accountants, or even someone to do your shopping.
3. Set Goals and Priorities
When you’re assigned a new task or project, it’s not unusual to get completely overwhelmed by thinking about how you’re going to manage your work and personal life. If that happens, you’re going to get burnout fast.
When I’m assigned new work, I place all of the articles in a Word Doc and then start chopping away at them one-by-one. Once I complete an article, I cross it off and move on to the next. If I’m assigned additional work, I don’t focus on them until I’ve already completed the other articles. In other words, I prioritize my assignments from the most to least important.
I also break down my assignments into smaller tasks. For example, instead of looking at my workload and freaking out because I have 20 years to write in the next week or two, I set goals like writing 2 articles per day.
4. Accept Projects/Clients That Interest You
One of the best things about freelance is that you have the flexibility to turn down gigs that don’t interest you. While you may not be able to that all of the time, if you have enough work and money, you don’t have take on a project that either bores or stresses you out. For example, if you’re absolutely loathe writing about pop culture because of your experience as an accountant, then turn the gig so that you write about the topics that interest you.
Additionally, you can also reject work from clients that have given you problems in the past. If you’ve worked with a client who has been reluctant to pay your invoice or who has been overly critical of your work, you can essentially fire them and work with the clients that you have a strong rapport with.
5. Build Long-Term Relationships With Specific Clients
Scrambling to find work from month-to-month can make you question your career as a freelancer. After all, who wants to worry about how you’re going to pay your monthly bills and expenses?
That’s why you should work on building long-term relationships with the clients of your choosing – remember, you don’t want to deal with the clients that are a headache. You can accomplish this rapport by doing the following:
- Frequent Communication. Don’t hesitate to ask your clients a question if you into a problem or just to check-in with them to make sure you’re on the same page.
- Provide Value. Whether it’s quality work or sharing an article that the client may enjoy, you should become a valuable assist for the client.
- Be Honest. Don’t ever lie to your client. For example, if you can’t meet a deadline, explain why it has to be extended truthfully instead of fibbing.
- Meet Deadlines. Speaking of deadlines, always make sure that you have them completed on-time. It proves that you’re reliable and dependable.
- Reward Your Loyal Clients. A simple email thanking your client, offering a friends and family discount, or surprising them with a gift are just a couple of ways to show your gratitude.
- Identify With Them As a Person. The sooner you realize that your client is a person, and not just a source of income, the sooner you can cultivate a strong relationship with by connecting with them on a personal level.
6. Use Productivity Tools
There are a lot of amazing time tracking and productivity tools that freelancers should use that can help them boost their productivity tools.
- RescueTime tracks how much time you’re spending on certain tasks. With that information, you can identify where you’re wasting time and make adjustments so that you can be more productive.
- My Minutes is a useful tool since it will put a time limit on tasks like checking emails.
- Tomato Timer uses the Pomodoro Technique for tasks. It has a 25-minute timer for you to work before taking a break.
- ATracker is an iPhone app that tracks how you spend your time throughout the day.
- Chronos is available for both iPhone and Android users that will keep tabs on what you’re doing and where you’re at – even when you’re sleeping. It even shares scores on your work/life balance.
7. Take Care of Yourself
As a freelancer, it’s not that difficult for you to neglect your health. You’re spending all day at home behind a computer, as opposed to walking to a train or subway or climbing a set of stairs in an office building.
The benefits of regular exercise have often been discussed among freelancers. The reason? Exercise can make you more productive and decrease stress. This means that you can get more work done without getting burnt out.
Oh yeah. There’s also the overall health benefits like reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and even certain types of cancer.