Hey lovely freelancers! I’ve got a slightly longer podcast for you this week (don’t worry, it’s still just under 10 minutes.) You can also find a transcribed version below, if you prefer to read your words rather than listen to them.
This week, it’s all about how to get back in the happy zone when you’re suffering from a freelance slump.
This week I wanted to talk about something that’s very close to my heart, and that’s about being a happier freelancer. Now this week’s been a bit of a tricky week for me: I’ve had to do my accounts which, I have to admit I have put off a little bit this month, and therefore there’s a lot to get on with*.
*Ok when I say this month, I mean this year.
I have not been organised on the accounts front and it’s not something I would recommend, especially when you then discover the ink in your printer has dried up and you then have to rush off to the supermarket to buy more ink cartridges.
But it made me think about all the things that make me a happier freelancer. Because it’s not always amazing days spent on the sofa, working with dream clients, everything going perfectly, and getting paid on time.
There are times when we need to make a real effort to make ourselves happier as a freelancer, and make our whole freelance lifestyle a more positive experience.
So, there are a few things that I wanted to share with you – both a mix of my own tips and some of the tips from my Freelance Lifestylers Facebook community (which you can access simply by signing up to FREE my newsletter) to see what they find helps them come out of a bit of a slump.
First of all kicking off with some apps (because you know I love some apps). The first app I love is Happier. It’s an app where you are encouraged to record three happy moments every day. And it’s all about the whole mindfulness movement of making sure that you’re constantly remembering all the positives in life rather than constantly dwelling on the bad things. So you might have a day where you’re chasing clients for payments or you’re dealing with a particularly difficult client. Or you just don’t have the motivation to really get going that day (because we do all have days like that). On those days I like to make sure that I always record the three small moments that have made me happy. There’s very rarely a day where there aren’t at least three small moments that make you happy, whether it’s the nice blue skies we’re enjoying at the moment, having a really nice conversation with someone on Twitter or a compliment on email.
Second one is an app I’ve been using a bit more recently called Happify (yes there is a running theme with the names here). Happify is all about encouraging a happier mood through different activities on the app. They’ve got an app where balloons pop up with positive words on them and you have to pop the ones with positive words, which sounds very simple but it actually does have a really good effect of putting you in a more positive mindset. There are bundle of other activities and articles on there too. It’s a free app but there is a subscription if you want to use the more advanced bits. But to be honest so far I’ve found that the free bits have all been really great. So that’s Happify.
If I am really struggling to get in a good mood I find a little bit of Pinterest helps, there’s usually something on there that inspires me. I’m either going to go down the route of looking at ways to improve my processes as a business, ways to be happier or I just indulge in the chocolate cake section of Pinterest which, you know, always brings happy thoughts. Pinterest is always somewhere I go, and I have created boards in the past (private boards) which are boards of happy things, of things that I love about freelancing or things that I want to achieve. I might add something to my goals board. Things like that can really help you refocus.
Pimp your working space
The fourth thing is pimping up your working area. If you find that you’re in a bit of a bad mood, you’re struggling to focus, you can’t get the jobs done or you just don’t seem to be attracting the right kind of work, have a look at your working space. And if your office is cluttered, and a bit dusty and rubbish, and there’s nothing there that’s particularly inspiring you, now might be the time to pimp up that working area. You can pop down to places like some of the supermarkets or WHSmiths (if you’ve still got one) or even eBay have loads of really nice stuff, even if it’s just new stationery, that will keep you feeling happier and inspired in your working life.
Pimp your playlist
Number five: podcasts. You know I love podcasts, and hopefully you do too. And there are lots of podcasts I’m loving at the moment. I’m especially loving Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcasts – all about building habits and how to live a happier life around those habits. Each week she sets a new goal that you can do, and one of them last week was the Power Hour. This is where you set an hour to do all those little tasks that you’ve been putting off – they’re not necessarily urgent but they’re niggling at the back of your head. This Power Hour is designed to get all those done. So it might be changing light bulbs, it might be finally using an IFTTT recipe to get things organised, it might be even dropping someone an email about doing your accounts for you. Her podcast is really great, but there are loads of fantastic ones. I also love Ru Paul’s podcast for something a bit more light and fun, and the High Tea Cast girls – you know I’m a big fan of those girls so their podcasts always on my playlist every Monday morning.
Spotify is also your friend here: get yourself a playlist of those songs that never fail to put you in a good mood. They can be as cheesy as you like because nobody else has to listen to them, but just get yourself some really chearful tunes in a ‘happy’ playlist, and I guarantee you will feel better.
I popped over to the Facebook group and I asked what they did to get themselves out of a bit of a funk. Walking pops up a lot for people – and a lot of people find that going for a walk, especially at this time of year, can make a huge difference to their happiness and their stress levels.
Jen Thorne (who writes one of my favourite beauty blogs – A Beauty Junkie In London) takes herself off to Pho for working noodles or she takes the dog for a walk. She’s also one of the people in the group who highly rate a walk in the fresh air. Nina Lenton said she solved many problems through taking a walking break. I’ve personally found it really helps as well – it gives you a bit more perspective and it makes you feel a bit healthier as well because sometimes when you’re slumped at your desk and you’ve been living off coffee all day, and you haven’t been particularly healthy, you can start to feel a bit, well, rank. Going out and taking a walk can really help.
Human contact is essential. Jo Shock said that contact with other humans, online or offline, is really helpful for her, even if it means just going to a coffee shop. That’s one of the reasons I created the Facebook group – The Freelance Lifestylers – (which is absolutely free for you guys to join), because I felt like we needed a place where freelancers could chat about things and just connect with other freelancers really.
Kerri Walker – she does something that a lot freelancers, myself included, do but we don’t necessarily always admit to: ring our mums! I always ring my mum if I’ve got a problem. She is a business woman herself, so she gets where I’m coming from quite often and it’s great to have someone to sound off. But I also talk to other friends and freelancers if I have any kind of problems with that.
Pascale Recher is all about the Earl Grey, a good podcast and a nice easy task to start the day.
And finally Tracey Marsh goes for yoga and a dog walk. Now you might have noticed that dogs are a big theme here. It definitely seems like, although cats are my personal preference out of cats and dogs, dogs seem to be a freelancer’s best friend in terms of getting us out of the house and feeling a bit happier.
So those are just a few tips for how I, and the members of the Facebook community, prefer to make our freelance lives happier but I would love to know what you do.