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Being a freelancer for most of us is tough. Really tough infact. With a lack of security from month to month, awaiting invoices to be paid and hoping that your clients like your work. On the flip side of that, being self-employed and being able to work to my own schedule, is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I’m naturally a pretty motivated person, so being able to stop myself working is quite hard. For the first few months, I remember working for 12/13 hours without leaving the computer. My shoulders and back were in agony, I felt tired constantly and like I had no time to do anything else. I tried a number of things to work less and have better time management skills until it finally clicked.
Putting break timers on my computer and not going out wasn’t going to solve the problems I was having. Working to my own schedule helped me be able to relax, and taking the time away when I needed it, helped me strengthen my mental health. Teaching myself, it’s ok to not work this morning so you can get a coffee with a friend and work later on. It’s ok when I’m feeling ill to take the day to myself.
As the number of freelancers regularly is on the increase, I decided to create a post sharing some tips I’ve picked up along the way when it comes to improving your state of mind whilst being a freelancer.
It’s ok to take days off
If you’re like me as a freelancer, the idea of taking a day off is filled with guilt. Worried that my clients aren’t going to think I work enough, in reality, they don’t care when you have off as well as the work is done to a high standard and to deadlines. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and in need of a day off, your work is likely to be to a lower standard. Unlike those who work a 9-5 job with weekends off, the life of a freelancer isn’t that. Checking emails on a Saturday, working through the night and even on a 7-day basis, is our reality, so being able to take time off when we need it is important.
For me, writing lists helps me manage my day to day work schedule. Having the tasks that need to be done that day/week in front of me and being able to tick them off once they’re complete not only gives me a sense of accomplishment but it also allows me to prioritise tasks which are most urgent. I like having paper lists as I can physically cross things off, however, I do also have online copies too. I also like to keep copies of all invoices ready for my tax return which involves being organised and using my office furniture to create a filling system.
Talk to other freelancers
Life as a freelancer can be lonely, especially when those around you work long hours or on a different schedule to you. Your typical job comes with colleagues and whether this is good or bad, there are people working around you. Finding fellow freelancers can be a blessing, not only does it help when you’re struggling mentally but also with any creative blocks. My fellow freelancers Chris Evans who designed this site and Georgina from She Might Be Loved have helped me overcome a lot during my time as a freelancer and also work on strange schedules like me. I like to hope I’ve been helping them too.
Head to a different space
If you work from home, the worst thing you can do is work in your bedroom or a place you spend a lot of time outside of work. Lucky for me, I have an office which allows me to separate my ‘home life’ as when I shut the door on my office, I know that I’m done for the day (with the odd exception of needing to amended things). Whether it’s 6 pm or 2 am I know that once I’ve done my tasks, I can chill out. Since I’ve had a car, I’ve been a huge fan of driving to places to get me out of the house too. Working in a coffee shop, or just heading out to grab some essentials, before heading back to work. Gives you a whole new level of motivation. If you live somewhere where a co-working space is available, looking into this as an option can also be a great way to work somewhere other than home.
Luckily, my last tip is a simple one. Take breaks from your PC, walk around and enjoy time away from your work. Whether it’s 15 minutes for lunch or a few hours.