Have you been on the freelance grind lately? Are you starting to feel a little bit burned out? If so, you’re not alone! Here are my top tips for avoiding burnout as a freelancer.
1. Stay organized
When your files, schedule, and client work are organized, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed by your job. Prioritize organization each and every day, so you feel like you’re ready to take on new projects with a clear vision. For me, this looks like opening client messages as soon as I get them, reviewing order briefs when they’re submitted, and creating a schedule outline of what day I’m working on what project in Trello.
2. Create a schedule
I don’t follow a rigid schedule each day, but it’s helpful to have some idea of when I’m working on what project. Depending on the freelance work you’re doing, having a schedule can help you feel structured and prepared and help you avoid freelancer burnout. Your schedule could look as simple as this:
- Wake up, eat breakfast, read the news
- Answer client messages + update calendar
- Work on project #1 + submit
- Work on project #2 + submit
- Lunch + walk/gym
- Work on project #3 + submit
- Work on project #4 + submit
- Answer client messages + update calendar
- Close laptop for the night
3. Give yourself additional time for projects
You may notice that the sample schedule above only includes 4 projects. I’ve learned over the years that anytime I pack my day full and put 6-10 projects on my plate I’m almost always dying by the end of it. Could I do it? Sure! During April 2020, during that first month of lockdown, I had several days where I was writing 10+ blogs and working on other projects. I made great money that month, but it makes me tired just thinking about it. Living in Hawaii today, I prefer to give myself a little breathing room, so I’m not having to juggle quite so much.
4. Know your limits
Only you know your limits! If you want to avoid freelancer burnout, you have to be careful not to overcommit. I try hard not to do this with clients at the beginning of the week when I reopen my orders. I can get dozens of messages, but I try to weed through them and only say yes to those I’m actually excited about. If I know I’ll dread completing the order later in the week, it isn’t fair to myself or the client to have them move forward.
5. Set small goals
I love to set small goals to help me feel motivated throughout the week. Once I begin to feel accomplished, it’s a lot easier to keep the ball rolling. I do a lot of this with my Trello board. I find it easier to think about the 20 orders I have that week when it’s just 4 orders per day.
6. Put assignments aside if you’re stuck
As a freelance writer, I get writer’s block periodically. Sometimes, I just can’t seem to work on a project. I try not to force it. If ever I’m having trouble writing, I just set that project aside and work on something else until I feel up to coming back to it. Sometimes this can be difficult when I’m on a deadline. There have been occasions when I’ve pushed through the block, but other times I’ve reached out to the client if I know they’re flexible on their delivery date. Clients almost always prefer your highest quality work over speed, which means they’re willing to work with you if you’re having trouble for any reason.
7. Reevaluate your goals
Change can be liberating. If you’re starting to feel burned out in your particular niche, consider changing or expanding it. Sometimes we focus too much on a single area and redirecting that focus can help you find excitement and joy in your work again.
8. Eliminate as many costs as possible
As a freelancer, you work as much as you want and as often as you get jobs. If you’re blowing through your money, you may feel the need to work constantly. However, if your expenses are low and you’re able to stick to a budget, then you have a lot more freedom in terms of both clients you work with and projects you work on. This can help to minimize burnout in the long run because you’ll always enjoy your work.
9. Revisit your pricing
When was the last time you changed your pricing? If you adjust your pricing, there’s a chance you get paid the same amount to do less work. This can majorly help burnout.
10. Close your laptop at the end of your workday
I’m guilty of not doing this! Dinner time rolls around, and I’m still looking at messages as they come through. However, if you want to prevent freelancer burnout, then you need to create a healthy work-life balance. Maintain this balance by working during designated hours and then giving yourself a well-deserved break!
11. Pick up a hobby you’re excited about
Fill your life with other fulfilling activities besides work! Take a midday or afternoon hobby break if you’re starting to feel burned out at your computer. This can help you feel like you have a little bit more of a well-rounded day than if you’re staring at your laptop and helping clients from start to finish.
12. Take vacation time
It’s 2022. It’s not cool to not take vacation time. For freelancers, it’s a bit trickier because you don’t get paid when you don’t work. However, it’s important to have this time to clear your head and come back feeling refreshed. I recommend finding a vacation that fits into your budget, saving for it, and letting your clients know in advance that you’ll be out of the office.
13. Say no
Saying no is such a powerful tool. If you don’t want to do something for a client, say no. If you don’t think you’ll produce a high-quality result, say no. If you’re anxious just thinking about how to deliver, say no. Whatever you’re charging for the project is likely not enough to be worth the stress.
Do you have any tips that help you avoid freelancer burnout? Let me know in the comments below! I’m always looking for ways to maintain my work-life balance and stay motivated on the job.