21 Oct Freelancer’s Burnout
Freelancer’s Burnout: It’s just like any other burnout but with the quote “I own my own business” kind of thing.
As a freelancer, you get a sense of new-found freedom that opens new horizons. The term freelancer’s burnout is not in your vocabulary just yet. Freelancer’s burnout? Why, never! What is a freelancer’s burnout after all?
You ponder over all the possibilities now that you can make up your own schedule. Travel the world? Sure. Work from bed? Why not. Take an extra day off? Don’t mind if I do.
You talk some sense into yourself and decide to compromise because you can’t have it all, can you?
ou realize that you have zero boundaries, zero working hour limits, and zero excuses. You end up working 24/7, waking up in the middle of the night to respond to emails, you forget what day it is, what time it is, heck is this the year 2022?
Boom! Freelancer’s burnout.
Been there, done that. Still doing it partially, but I’m learning how to overcome it, how to recognise the signs and how to stop it before it gets too bad.
Stress breeds stress.
When you start feeling that you are no longer in control stress begins to take over. Stress is a normal reaction the body has when changes occur, resulting in physical, emotional, and intellectual responses. When you are dealing with a sudden and periodic transition stress is a normal defence. But it can become chronic and suck the life out of you. It’s like you don’t know how to put the breaks on stress anymore. The more you stress the harder it is to escape the loop. Harvard Medical School has a really nice, research-based and scienced-backed article about understanding the stress response if you’d like to dive deeper into that.
How to prevent it:
Learn time management techniques. By having structure and a pre-planned schedule you are making it easier for yourself and increasing the chances of sticking with it. I like to add a ‘30-minute cushion’ as I call it to my daily schedule for unplanned and unexpected tasks that might come up. I do my best not to exceed that. What does this technique do? It enables me to feel a bit more in control hence eliminating the stress loop. Give it a go.
You get into a rut.
When the burnout is settling in you are more prone to seek your comfort zone in a desperate attempt to make yourself feel better. So, you end up avoiding new challenges, you withdraw, and you are reluctant to take creative steps.
How to prevent it.
Motivate yourself to shake things up. Careful now, don’t take up a new project while you are still overwhelmed by unfinished tasks. What you can do instead is this: Look for creative approaches to your ongoing projects. Schedule time to brainstorm. Invent and play games with yourself (or if you have a team, with your team). Example of a resetting game: Come up with and write down 3 different approaches to a project that you are working on, even if you feel it’s too late to change the outline. It will be beneficial as it will freshen up your mindset. Another example would be creating mood boards. Visual elements will spark new life to an otherwise tiring project. Do all the little things that remind you why you chose this job/project/lifestyle.
I will go through my previous client’s testimonials and feedback on Upwork to be reminded of that glorious feeling of pride that you get after seeing the smile on the client’s face.
Another idea that I find helpful is changing my working environment. On Sundays, I work from a café with my dog, Else. (here is a post about all our favourite pet-friendly cafes, with lots of pictures) I change my desk set-up. I work from a different room. I will read blogs that inspire me. I light a candle. I will listen to a podcast. (here is a list of my favourite podcasts for creatives). I understand that a few of the above sound a bit silly, insignificant, and perhaps peripheral. But they work if you are consistent. They will not help you overcome a severe rut or burnout (in which case you’ll need to seek professional help) but they will help you prevent it before it’s too late. It’s the little things.
I hope you found this helpful and trust me, you got this!
If you are a freelancer, a creative, or trying to build your brand and you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably find those useful too:
How to attract the ideal client as a freelancer
How to become a better freelancer by solving Rubik’s Cube.
Fika: How to bond with your workmates
5 Questions Creatives Should Ask Themselves at the Beginning of Each Season
What to do if you can’t afford a creative director.
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Until the next one,
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