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How to Avoid Freelancer Burn-out

How to avoid burning out as a freelancer

Freelancing can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Work gradually consumes too much of your time — you discover you don’t have time to spend with friends and family, you neglect your hobbies, and so on. Burnout is commonly associated with the corporate sector, but it also affects freelancers. What you can do about it is as follows.

Freelancing is a lot of fun. You have the independence to work from anywhere. You have complete control over your schedule. You also have some freedom to pick the type of work you wish to accomplish. There’s no bother and no fuss.

But what about the flip side of freelancing?

While all of these advantages are wonderful, you can’t expect them to alleviate the tension that comes with them. Freelancing has its challenges, and as a freelancer, you may feel weighed down by them. Whether there aren’t enough work opportunities or there are too many, freelancer burnout is unavoidable.

What Exactly Is Freelancer Burnout?

When you are burned out, you are exhausted or dissatisfied with the demands of your job. So, if you’re striving to make your freelance business a success, or if it already is, but you’re finding it tough to keep going? You certainly have a classic case of burnout.

Unrecognizable female office worker sitting at desk with laptop on it sufferring burnout horizontal portrait

Reasons for Freelancer Burnout

  • Being overburdened and overbooked with work is one of the leading causes of freelancer burnout.
  • Unreasonable deadlines – To acquire new clients or keep existing ones, freelancers frequently commit to unrealistic deadlines. And the less time you have to finish your assignment, the more prone you are to burn out.
  • Isolation — Working as a freelancer can be isolating. Working alone eliminates a psychological shield against stress.
  • Avoiding delegation — If you dislike delegating work to others, you will quickly become fatigued trying to handle everything independently. While you may prefer to do your core job in-house, failing to outsource the less critical jobs has a negative impact on your mental and physical health.

Is it possible that I’m suffering from burnout?

Burnout is difficult to diagnose. However, it is not impossible to realise when you are suffering from this psychological situation.

Here are some common indications and symptoms of burnout:

Work aversion: Avoiding or postponing work assignments is a telltale sign of burnout. Over time, you may get cynical about the freelance routine, and you may begin to dislike what you once loved the most.

Reduced productivity: Even if you are not avoiding work, a major loss in productivity may indicate an underlying cause, which could be burnout, especially if you find it difficult to concentrate better on work due to overload or stagnation.

Mood swings: If you feel agitated or easily angered, or if you have unexpected bursts of rage or violence, you may be dealing with it.

Physical symptoms: Burnout with added stress can do more harm than you might realise to your general well-being. If you suffer persistent headaches, backaches, neckaches, stomachaches, or indigestion, or if you are continuously tired, you may have burned out.

Unrecognizable female office worker sitting at desk with laptop on it sufferring burnout horizontal portrait

What should you do if you are suffering from Burnout?

As a freelance writer, I’ve discovered that my profession entails mental or creative labour and emotional labour.

Everything falls on my shoulders – and appropriately so – from seeking new clients and invoicing existing ones to managing all of the workloads on my alone (without someone to share a cup of tea with or brainstorm an exciting blog topic with). After all, this is what I’ve purposefully chosen for myself.

However, I sometimes feel that the difficulties of freelancing outweigh the benefits. When funds are blocked, or an unexpected ‘personal commitment’ crops up and disrupts my scheduled routine, I feel burned out. To say the least, it’s upsetting.

Tips to avoid burning out as a freelancer (or how to recover from it)

1. Choose your tasks carefully- If you feel overburdened, ask yourself, “Do I have time to take on a new project?” Is my mind prepared to take on that much more?”.

If you are unsure, walk away from that client or project. Instead, consider raising your freelance fees. This will help you get rid of low-paying jobs, allowing you to focus on higher-paying clients with less labour. Also, master the skill of saying no to work you don’t want to do. This will free up time for you to do the job that you enjoy.

2. Socialise- Isolation is often stressful. Go out and socialise to get rid of the blues. Meet up with your buddies once a week, or find a group of fictitious coworkers with whom you can bounce ideas.

Do you find this to be something you can relate to? If you’re a freelancer who enjoys writing or creating and developing websites/software, you’ve probably experienced a similar degree of stress at some point in your work.

Schedule this time into your workweek and stick to it. You should constantly make time for yourself and your family.

3. Seek assistance- If you are a designer, outsource your copyrighting work to a writer. If you are a writer, consider hiring a proofreader to lighten your work.

The objective is to delegate and seek help whenever possible. Every freelancer should concentrate on their strengths and delegate those jobs that provide little value to their firm.

If necessary, you can even see a therapist to help you achieve the correct balance between your business and personal lives.

4. Consider taking a break from work to indulge in self-care-You can lessen your workload by scheduling regular breaks or by taking a vacation to boost your creativity. Eat well, get some exercise, and meditate. Take care of your physical health (body) and mental health (mind) to avoid burnout.

5. Control your spending-One of the most common source of stress for freelancers is a consistent income. You may want to make as much money as possible, but sometimes the next project isn’t ready yet.

Although you cannot always manage your income, you can cut your expenses to increase your liquidity. Cook more at home, and cancel any services you aren’t utilising (online tools, Netflix, gym, etc.). You can ask your clients for deposits or early payments to alleviate the stress of your next client’s not paying. Getting paid in full upfront is unlikely, so consider asking for a specific sum deposit for completed work.

Get rid of that burnout – you’ve got this!

Dear freelancers, remember that you can always take on an extra job to increase your revenue. But keep in your mind that it is by far more satisfying if you enjoy what you do. We hope the recommendations above help you balance your tasks and avoid turning your passion into a monotonous job.

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