Freelance Health

  • Five ways to deal with freelance fatigue

    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.

    Exercise

    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.

  • Five bad health habits of freelancers

    1) Snacking/bad diet

    A lot of freelancers I know, myself included, have put some weight (freelance fat) on since starting to work from home . You’re right near the kitchen, it’s tempting to comfort eat when things get tough and lunch portions can gradually increase with access to an oven.

    Freelance Health Tip: Meal plan, so you know what you’re cooking for the week (or download the Freelance Planner I created last week to make a note of what you’re going to eat that day). I’m also a big fan of Weight Watchers if you want to lose some weight (you can see my weight loss updates on my other blog).

    The other problem with weight as a freelancer is…

    2) Not exercising

    You know that annoying commute to work you had to do before freelancing? And all that running up and down stairs and popping out for lunch? That was all a little bit of exercise that you’re not getting now. In theory, it should be easier to fit in exercise – you could pop to the gym mid-morning or mid-afternoon when things are quieter. But when you’re freelancing time can run away with you a bit, and you don’t have the structure of a 9-5er.

    Freelance Health Tip: Try booking fitness classes in and paying ahead, so you HAVE to go.

    3) Not taking enough breaks

    This isn’t just a problem for freelancers. All office workers who work at a computer should take a break away from their screen each hour. But how many of us actually do that? And how many bosses would be realistically happy with you leaving your desk every hour (even though it’s a health and safety requirement)?

    I know a lot of freelancers take their lunch in front of their computer and rarely take breaks.

    Freelance Health Tip: Set a timer to remind you to take breaks every hour. Alternatively, download Fitbolt which will give you reminders every 20 minutes to take a break from your screen and adjust your posture/doing a 30 second exercise/eat healthy. Make sure you take your lunch away from your desk.

    4) Not sitting at a desk

    Where do you work? At a desk? On the sofa? I’ve been seduced by the comfort of the sofa recently – and surprise surprise, my back has been hurting. Sitting at a desk means you’re more likely to have good posture, which will help your back, ease headaches from hunched shoulders and stressed necks and stop you from being too close to your screen.

    Freelance Health Tip: Got a desk? Use it. Not only will it improve your posture, but it’ll help you stick to better work hours too. I’m going to try and do that all this week.

    5) Not discussing work with others

    When you’re freelance, it’s easy to store up all your worries and not have somewhere vent, which can be emotionally unhealthy. Twitter now gives us somewhere to discuss things (to a limit) and there are plenty of forums on Facebook and LinkedIn for chatting to other freelancers.

    Freelance Health Tip: Get to know fellow freelancers, who you can chat to about any worries you might have. And if you have a partner, don’t be afraid to talk to them about work. That exercise malarky can also be good for working out stress.

    Have you discovered any unhealthy habits since going freelance?