At one time or another, every freelancer goes through ‘freelance fatigue’. You’ll feel knackered, uninspired by your workload and feel like you’ve lost your focus. When you work for yourself, days like these can be frustrating as everything relies on you being productive. There’s no one else there to shoulder the workload for you, which can feel like a lot of pressure.
I had a day like this last week, due to a combination of workload and being unwell, when I struggled to concentrate and maintain the energy I need to get through my workload.
So, how do you deal with freelance fatigue?
Take a break
Freelancers are notoriously bad at taking breaks or holidays. After all, we don’t get the benefits of holiday pay, so any time we’re not working is time we’re not earning.
Sometimes though, you need to take that break in order to be able to continue earning money. Whether it be a weekend where you switch off and don’t work or a week or two away.
Go on! Block out a weekend, get enough food and entertainment to last you a weekend, turn off the phone and RELAX. Or book a night out with the girls (or boys) with plenty of cocktails with silly little umbrellas (or just beer. Lots of it). If you’re tight for money, have your friends round for cocktails instead.
If you’ve worked really hard and earned enough, treat yourself to an all-inclusive holiday where you don’t need to do ANYTHING. Check out Groupon for some of their cheapy getaway deals.
A break can also help you see the big picture, so you can do the next bit…
Look at your workload
It’s easy to get into the mindset of saying yes to all well-paid work. But sometimes it’s worth taking a step back and looking at your workload. Are there certain clients or projects that cause you more grief than they’re worth? Have you outgrown some of your long-standing clients? Are you under charging others?
It’s easier to stay motivated and energetic about clients and projects that you’re passionate about, so try to remember this when you’re deciding whether to agree to a project. If you can do, finish your contract with those clients that don’t float your boat. It’ll give you room to take on a client that’s worth your time.
Look at your workplace
Have a look around your desk or workplace. Is it messy? Do you have a pile of receipts that haven’t been touched since 2010? Are the coffee cups piling up? Odd as it may seem, a messy desk can make you feel drained. A clean and organised workspace can give you a temporary boost of energy and inspiration.
Re-evaluate your goals and objectives
If you’re feeling a bit like you’ve lost your way, it’s worth sitting down and re-assessing your goals and objectives (or setting some if you don’t already have any). There are a couple of great posts here about setting goals – five-step plan to setting goals and the importance of setting goals and objectives.
For example you might find that you want to increase your income, in which case you could reassess your fee structure or look at other revenue streams.
You might find that you want to spend more time with your family or adopt a better work/life balance, in which case you might want to look at adopting more high value/low volume work.
You might feel the need to do something that makes a real difference to society, in which case volunteer work might be worth looking at.
Whatever you choose to do, refreshing your goals and objectives can help reignite that excitement you felt before.
Yeah, I know. You either love it or hate it. And when you’re feeling drained of energy and just want to sleep all the time, the last thing you want to do is drag your ass down to the gym. But, it really does help boost your energy (not just on the day, but for a few days after), and you can get all those freelance frustrations out of your system with a good workout.
What do you do to deal with freelance fatigue? Any tips? Let me know in the comments!
p.s If you’re really struggling and it feels like more than exhaustion, there is a chance you may be suffering from depression. Don’t suffer in silence. It’s more common than you think. Speak to your doctor, and read this article from Mind about the symptoms of depression.