Feeling like you’re in constant work mode is common amongst freelancers. There’s the never-ending list of marketing, accounting, admin, managing clients, networking and of course doing the work you’re getting paid for. Working from home doesn’t help as you can’t up and leave at the end of the day.
After juggling all those balls for months, it hits you like a ton of bricks… burnout. The killer of creativity, enthusiasm and passion for what you do.
Burnout happens to us all at some stage. It doesn’t, however, have to ruin your business or make you forget why you set out on your own in the first place. By learning to spot the signs and finding ways to navigate through you’ll be better able to cope and come out the other side.
We’re sharing 4 ways to avoid freelance burnout…
1 // turn off your notifications
Being permanently attached to our phone screens is becoming the norm. The continuous barrage of notifications, messages and emails can quickly become overwhelming.
Who hasn’t logged into Facebook and two hours later you’re still answering PMs from your business page and responding to comments? That’s your evening gone. The time you could have spent with your family or relaxing as you binge-watch Netflix.
That nagging voice in your head whispering that you need to respond straight away to every message regardless of how non-urgent. Can eat away at your downtime and leave you burnout and frustrated.
Try leaving your phone in the other room or turn your notifications off.
If you can’t bear to turn off your notifications every night, how about one night per week? Choose one unplugged night each week to enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted leisure time.
2 // get away from your desk
Setting your schedule and not feeling chained to your desk 9 to 5 Monday to Friday is one of the reasons that many people decide to work for themselves. And that is a brilliant bonus of being the boss.
But it can quickly become a distant memory. When things get busy and there is no one to help out, you end up working all day and night. This is a recipe for burnout.
Allowing yourself time away from your desk even for a few hours can do wonders for your mental health. Whether it’s popping out for lunch, watching your favourite tv show, getting some fresh air or cooking your favourite dish – find something fun and make time for it. That hour or two away from work can help you stay healthy and happy as you juggle life as a freelancer.
3 // learn to say no
Saying no is easier said than done. Particularly when you’re always chasing your next client. Say yes to every job that comes your way and the result bad clients who drain your time and mental health. It’s not worth it.
Learning to say no is difficult at first but it will completely change your business, for the better. So, how can you stop the ‘yes’ cycle?
Increase your prices
Taking on fewer clients for the same or more money will allow you more breathing space and give you the freedom to live a more flexible life
Spot the red flags
There comes a point when you can spot the red flags from potential clients a mile off. You know, the ones who don’t want to pay your prices but want you on call 24/7 or the scope-creepers who add more tasks for the original price.
Introduce an ‘are they going to be a pain in the butt’ step into your onboarding process to identify and turn down these toxic clients.
Get more referrals
Setup a referral scheme to encourage existing clients to send more business to you. Being able to generate new client enquiries without having to spend hours of your week marketing is freeing.
Reach out to existing clients
Are you taking care of your existing clients? Can you offer an additional service to them regularly? Finding ways to utilise your current clients cuts out the worry of where you will find more work and give you a bit of consistent income.
Stop doing the jobs you hate – when you are first starting out you end up taking any work that comes along. Cue the stress of doing the jobs you don’t really enjoy. Removing services or products that you hate can significantly improve your life.
4 // Seek out support
It’s hard doing it alone. The benefits of having support when running your own business cannot be underestimated. Understanding friends and family can be a vital source of support when you are feeling burnt-out.
Other freelancers and business owners who know exactly what you’re going through can be immensely helpful. Find a local networking group or community like Forth Valley Collective to make new connections.
You’ll discover you’re not alone and someone has either been through or is going through the same struggles.