I have been working as full-time freelancer now for the past three years, it’s been a wholly rewarding experience, but not one without it’s fair share of ups and downs.
We all know that as a freelancer the buck stops with you. You will do everything in your power to make sure that your chosen career survives. Responding to emails late at night, working weekends, planning, photographing, social interaction. Anything to keep your business going.
After several years, if not months, you feel like you have taken a hammering. Frazzled, tired, not thinking straight. Your health, business and personal life is going to suffer. Believe me I know. Three & half years ago I hit a wall. I was working part-time as a receptionist, I was trying to establish this blog as a viable money earner, still be the homemaker and child carer / mum / wife. Spinning waaay too many plates and not paying attention to the warning signs.
Crash. I crashed, hard. Spiralled into depression, my mental health suffered and I reached out for support. Which I thankfully got. I quit my part-time job, freeing up time and headspace to focus on what I wanted to do. Dan cut his hours down and helped with the kids and home. Breathe….
So what could I have done to avoid this? How could I have created that elusive work/life balance that allowed me to recharge, to provide space for me and not go at life all guns blazing?
Create your own hours of work
Simple huh? But we all how easy it is to sit there of an evening on the phone, emailing, interacting on Instagram. STOP. Set your working hours and stick to them. It doesn’t have to be standard office hours. If you are more of a night owl then by all means work then. But be realistic in how much you can achieve at that time of night.
I currently work from 9.30 – 4, Monday – Thursday. Giving myself a three day weekend. Those boundaries are set on my email out of office reply so clients know when to expect a response from me. I am more productive in those four days, and can get more work done, than spreading it out loosely over 7.
Turn on your out of office notification on your email. Mine says the hours of working, plus assures people that I have received their email and I will respond as soon as I can. I also give them the option to contact me via Direct Message on Twitter or Instagram if they feel it’s that important. Most people don’t, and wait for my return email.
Plan a fortnightly meeting with a friend / colleague
Get into the habit of getting out of your house / office to meet up with someone within the same industry. Just chatting about the pros or cons of freelancing or how to edit images. Or the latest changes in Instagram can take the weight off. I love to geek out about photography with fellow local Instagrammers over coffee.
If you can out source some of your work, then do. I know many bloggers / social infuencers who have a VA (virtual assistant) who take care of the email answering, keeping on top of SEO, managing social accounts and more. I have given a lot of these roles to Dan, which has free’d up a lot of my time and headspace.
Get out of the house
Get into a practice of exercising before or after working. Just a walk around the block or a bit of yoga will help combat that cooped up feeling and release good endorphin’s. It’s also a chance to see the changes in the seasons and hopefully inspire you in your work.
Listen to a podcast
Editing images? Tackling SEO? Stacking the dishwasher? Listen to a podcast. They are rewarding, interesting and diverse. I find just having someone else talking in the room really helps with that feeling of loneliness that us freelancers can feel.
Remember to take time to eat well. Nourish your body with green smoothies, and decent lunches. Soups are your friend. Start it off mid-morning, and by lunch time, your soup is ready. Make a large batch and freeze it, for lunches throughout the week. You can’t survive on toast alone – try as I might.
Give yourself a break
Not feeling it today? Then that’s fine. Take a day off. Pull a sickie if you wish. I have a four day week rule, which is flexible. If on a Tuesday the sun is shining and I don’t want to be chained to my desk – then I go out for the day. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Above all, this is YOUR LIFE. Enjoy your freelance journey. You have chosen to work for yourself because you believe in you. Look after yourself and have the best life ever.