As someone who has proudly been a freelance writer for almost a decade now, I can tell you that it’s not all fun and games. Sure. I don’t have to fight rush hour traffic, deal with a boss I can’t stand, and can make my own schedule. However, I have to be concerned about cash flow when a project dries up and juggle work for multiple clients who expect projects to be handed-in on certain dates.
I’m not complaining. I love what I what I do. It’s just that sometimes freelancing can get stressful and overwhelming. But, I’ve found that you can prevent that from happening by taking the following steps…
Be More Selective When Choosing Projects/Clients
When you have bills to pay this may be difficult to do. But, let’s be real here. Do you really enjoy working for the overbearing client who has expectations that you can never meet? Are you satisfied writing about finance when you dread the topic?
You became a freelancer for a reason – to become your own boss.
When selecting projects look for projects that either fall under your expertise or that you have interest in. This will keep you motivated and productive since you won’t be slugging your way through a project that you despise.
As for clients, work with people that you feel that you can get along with. If the client is new that’s when referrals from people you trust come in handy. If you already have a strong relationship with the client, then work on maintaining that relationship instead of pushing them aside for the client who refuses to pay their bill.
Just Say ‘No’
The most productive freelancers know that they need to have a schedule in-place if they want to meet deadlines, and keep their sanity. Can you imagine the stress then when a client asks you to write 15 articles in just 24 hours?
If you’re completely booked for the month or completing a project for another client then you’re going to have to turn down the new assignment. Losing out on that cash may be a tough pill to swallow, but in the long-run, it prevents you from overextending yourself. And, if the client really wants you to work on the project, they’ll be willing to push back the deadline for you.
Split Projects Into Smaller Tasks
We’ve all been there. A client just sent you a list of 100 articles to complete by the end of the month. That list is incredibly overwhelming. As opposed to worrying about writing 100 articles, focus on the articles that you need to write by the end of the day, which could only be four or five. From there, you can break down those articles individually, like research, outline, and first draft, so that you can worry about one article at a time.
In other words, splitting your workload into smaller and manageable steps it you want to reduce the amount of stress in your professional life.
Ask For Help
There’s no shame in asking for a little help from your friends. Whether if it’s handing over a couple of articles to a fellow writer or hiring your accountant friend to take-over your bookkeeping and accounting, outsourcing certain tasks is definitely worth considering if you’re getting burn out.
Don’t know any other freelancers personally? You can use sites like LinkedIn, Fiverr, or Elance to find everyone from accountants to writers to to web designers to voice over actors.
Give New Techniques and Tools a Spin
If you’re getting stressed out, you may want to consider trying the tools and techniques that you’re freelancers have used to prevent them from getting burnt out. For example, there are tools like RescueTime and MyMinutes that tracks how much time you’re spending on a task and then set a limit on the amount of time spent on a project.
Besides tools, there are also simple techniques that can make you more productive and less overwhelmed, such as turning off your email and text notifications. One of my favorite techniques, however, is the Pomodoro Technique where you work for 25 minutes and then take a short break, usually around 5 minutes, and then get back to where. This allows fewer distractions and gives you the opportunity to take frequent breaks.
Take Better Care of Yourself
Sitting behind a computer screen all day and eating Hot Pockets for lunch isn’t the healthiest of lifestyles. But, it sometimes, it just happens. Make the time to get the blood flowing by going for a walk or visiting the gym. This won’t just keep you physically healthy, exercising can also help with productivity, put in you a better mood, and reduce stress.
And, don’t forget to eat a well-balance diet. Snacking on walnuts, for example, can improve your mental performance.
Get Out of the House
Sometimes the life of a freelancer can get pretty lonely. That’s why we have to leave the house and set-up shop elsewhere, like a coffee shop or coworking space. The change of scenery encourages us to socialize with like-minded people where we can vent, exchange ideas, and motivate each other.
More importantly, it gives us some time to clear our heads and a take a much needed break from the work that’s been stressing us out.