Do you ever feel like you’re overworking and overextending yourself to the point of exhaustion? The feeling of stretching yourself so thin that you can’t get ahead of your current workload?
Freelancers are at high risk of getting burnt out. It leads to lack of motivation and creative block, which in turn, hinder your work. It’s awful!
You can’t afford to get burnt out, especially when your entire business relies solely on you. In this post I’d like to share eight ways to avoid freelance burnout.
1. Don’t over commit
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m overworked and stretched thin. Writing a blog post every week, creating promotional content for my book, replying to every email with care, and keeping up with client work. (Just to name a few.) Not to mention my real-world life that I still have to live.
A common way you may find yourself overcommitted is if you say “yes” to every project that comes your way. It’s not easy to turn down projects because you’re ultimately turning down money, but sometimes you need to say “no.”
It’s okay to be picky with which jobs you choose to take on. The best way to go about this is to focus on the jobs and clients you’re most likely to enjoy. This way, you stay motivated and excited about the projects you’re working on.
Another solution to overextending yourself is to reevaluate your time and manage it efficiently. Prioritize your tasks and figure out what needs done during the day vs. what can be done on the weekends.
2. Eliminate stress
Aside from feeling unmotivated from being burnt out, is there anything else in your business or life that’s causing you stress?
Maybe there’s a client that’s demanding too much or giving you work that you don’t enjoy producing? If so, fire them. Yes, you can fire clients. If a client is causing you stress and you feel that your time could be better spent elsewhere, then dump them. Politely and professionally of course. Simply explain to them that you’re not the best fit for them moving forward.
Aside from bad clients, you may just need to get some frustration off your chest. Open up to a friend or another freelancer pal. This can help examine your current situation, and it might help you find a creative solution to your problem. Whatever you do, don’t bottle up your feelings; share them, stay positive, and move forward.
3. Get help
As a freelancer, we spread ourselves pretty thin with how much we have to manage: budgeting, taxes, client communications, project estimates, invoicing, marketing, product development, and many other business tasks.
Don’t be afraid to get help when needed.
When I was writing my book, Start your Freelance Career, I reached out to my fellow freelancers and asked for help proofreading. I was fortunate enough to make an amazing connection and I can’t imagine how my book would’ve turned out without the help.
I know a lot of people are clueless when it comes to finances, let alone filing taxes for a freelance business. It’s not easy and it’s daunting. In this case, it could be worth the money to invest in a small business accountant or tax professional. Doing so may actually save you some money in the end, plus you’ll be relieved of the stress.
4. Learn something new
Doing the same thing over and over can quickly lead to burnout. The best way to avoid this is to switch things up — plan something new in your daily routine or learn something to create excitement.
I try and take a Skillshare course once a month. This helps relieve stress and creates something new for me to do which also improves my craft.
If you work on the same type of projects and use the same techniques over and over, things will start to feel a bit stale. Your work will start to become outdated and, in turn, what you do will stop being fun, so keep learning new things and always strive to take your work to the next level.
5. Take time off
If you’re exhausted and burnt out, then it might be time for a technology detox. I’ve seen some of my favorite entrepreneurs announce that they’re taking vacation after a major product launch, and I can’t blame them — they’ve earned it.
The best way to help get yourself out of a rut is to take a break and come back to work with a fresh perspective and clear mindset.
Take a vacation or, at the very least, schedule one work-free day where you’re forced to enjoy yourself. Get out of town for the weekend, take a trip to a design conference, or plan a simple day to spend with your loved ones.
6. Set limits
It’s best to treat your freelancing as a true business, and that also means you should have a set schedule for work. Of course you have the freedom to work whenever you’d like, but if you find yourself working late into the day and over the weekends, you’ll get burnt out very quickly.
Set the time and days that you plan on working. I find myself working 11–15 hours a day, seven days a week. However, when it comes to client work, my set schedule is 9–5 Monday–Friday, just like most other businesses.
If you’re on a tight deadline for a project then of course do what needs done in order to have it completed on time. But if you don’t have a deadline to meet, wrap-up your day and enjoy a stress-free evening.
7. Don’t doubt yourself
Too many freelancers (and people in general) suffer with confidence issues. It’s natural for new freelancers or anyone making a jump into a new field of work to have some doubts about their abilities and experience.
We’re all afraid of being vulnerable in some way: fear of failure, rejection, or of what others may think of you. No one likes to appear weak.
Well guess what… we’re all humans.
Instead of focusing on covering up your errors or holding back from putting yourself out there in front of others, what if you highlighted your mistakes? Make mistakes, learn from them, and don’t be afraid to share your experience – someone else may benefit from it. At the same time, others can connect and relate to you on a personal human level.
I was never good at writing – heck, a few years ago I’d never imagine that I’d be where I am today. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m not the best writer, but yet, here I am, writing for you on a blog that I started. I’ve written for some other (larger) blogs, and I put myself out there. As a result, my portfolio now gets a consistent amount of traffic, I work on projects that I enjoy, and I even wrote my own book!
I took a leap of faith not knowing where I’d land, and now, I can honestly say that I love what I do for a living. I can assure you that if you can put your fears aside and step out of your comfort zone, only good things will come of it.
8. Set goals and priorities
If you’re battling freelance burnout, you can break out of it at this very moment. Grab a notepad and something to write with or open your favorite text editor and do the following:
- Write exactly what needs done in detail. What projects are you currently working on (client & personal)? Include what’s holding you back from completing each task.
- Prioritize this list from most important to least.
- Break each project or task into smaller, more attainable tasks.
With that, you should now have an easy-to-follow plan of action. Now, you have no reason not to make progress.
I know it can be hard when you’re not motivated or when you feel burnt out, so start with a small task. After five minutes pass by, you’ll be in the zone and making progress.
With progress comes satisfaction, then comes motivation. [tweetable]
Are you currently or have you ever dealt with serious freelance burnout? What did you do to overcome it? Leave your experience and tips in the comments below and add to this post.
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