Are you suffering freelance burnout? Did you even know there was such a thing?
If you are feeling drained, de-motivated and would far rather lie on the sofa binge-watching Netflix all day than turn on your laptop, you may well be suffering freelance burnout.
Over the past few months, the surge in business coaching requests has been incredible! And I’ve noticed a recurring theme running through many of these coaching sessions.
The past 18 months has affected all of us. From those of us who suddenly found our business crashing around our ears due to the lockdown to the other extreme of being so run off our feet, we didn’t know which way to turn.
Whichever end of the scale you were on, we have all had to adjust our businesses in some way or the other and on many it has taken its toll.
Working for a company that makes the decisions and can put you on furlough in a downturn has its advantages in a scenario such as what we have been through. Being a freelancer and having to take the full burden on your own is a huge stress to carry.
At the best of times working alone can take up more time than we expect which impacts on our social life with friends and family. Combine this with suddenly having to adapt your whole business to a wholly unexpected event and the demands can seem unbearable.
This is where freelance burnout comes in.
What is freelance burnout?
Freelance burnout is when we simply become exhausted and fed up with our work. We lose our motivation and constantly feel distanced from what we used to enjoy. The simplest of tasks seem to take forever and we would do anything to be able to stay hidden under the duvet than face another day sat at a desk.
We feel more isolated than ever and feel like we are steadily slipping into a black hole.
When you feel like you are falling into the black hole of freelance burnout, how do you crawl back out again?
How to get out of freelance burnout
Talk to someone.
By sharing your feelings, you can realise you are not alone. This person can bring a new perspective to your situation and help you see how you can tweak what you are doing to start to regain positivity and enjoyment.
As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved and is why I have suddenly become so busy of late. So many have contacted me as they know and trust me to be a sounding board when they need it.
Take time out
I promise you it will be far more productive to shut down for a week and have a clear break than trying to drag yourself through the motions each day. Contact clients to postpone meetings and/or work. Explain you have an unexpected situation that needs dealing with as a priority. Set up an email autoresponder and change your voicemail. And then shut off! No checking emails ‘just in case’. Things will wait and the world will keep turning.
Review your work
Take a good hard look at what you are doing when returning to work. Review your business goals. Are you still on track or have you been side-tracked and now going down a route you don’t feel comfortable with? If this is the case, go back to what you originally planned and adjust to get back on track.
Review your clients
Are you working with clients that drain your energy and who you dread hearing from? If yes, then ditch them! When I first suggest this to my own clients, I get the instant response of ‘I can’t afford to’ or ‘they pay me too much to do that’. But whenever they have taken my advice, they have instantly felt a weight lift from their shoulders which opens them up to attract new clients that they love working with. It can be a difficult decision, but it can be a real game-changer.
A muddled workspace creates a muddled mind. If your work is all over the place and you are jumping from one thing to another this is only going to cause stress. Sort your work out. Plan your future diary. Use productivity tools such as CapsuleCRM to help you take back control and get organised. Prioritise your work and plan what you are going to focus on each day the night before – a simple but powerful tip!
Sort your workspace
Following on from the point above, is your desk sinking under a pile of notepads, post-it notes and coffee cups? Give it a declutter. Go through drawers, pen pots and files and get rid of anything now defunct. Give everything a good clean and add some finishing touches such as a favourite picture or new plant. It’s amazing how a clean, fresh workspace can affect our mood.
Have you got dragged down trying to do things you hate or take up too much of your valuable time? Then outsource it. Again, I can hear the retorts of ‘I can’t afford it’ but can you afford not to these things are contributing to your burnout and overall health? Spend money wisely and it will ultimately reap rewards by making your workday more efficient and freeing up your time to work on attracting the perfect clients.
Plan ahead for YOU and avoid future freelance burnout
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can carry on working and will take a break when you need it. We invariably fail to do this and think we will work just another week and then take a day off, which never happens. Pre-book time off in your calendar and make sure you take this time out. Pre-book a mini-break, a massage or lunch with friends. Create an email to go to clients well in advance to inform them you will be away and to let them know of your cut off for any questions before you take the break.
So, there you have it. If you are suffering freelance burnout, you are most certainly not alone. It is a more common occurrence than many like to admit to. Please don’t suffer alone. Take that first step, admit you need help and use the tips above.
And of course, if I can help in any way, get in touch, and let me know.