Featured News, Freelance Life, Opinion Pieces

How to be a freelancer with less stress

February 14, 2012
how to be a freelancer less stress

Learning how to be a freelancer who doesn’t stress is difficult. It’s fair to say that we all work pretty hard these days, right? And that leads to the occasional bout of work blues.

We’re constantly connected to work through emails on our phones. We’re always chasing down leads or ideas or working on grand plans on the outskirts of what we are trying to achieve.

But you have to take time out for you, else you become some husk, some shell of what you need to be and let me tell you, both your productivity and your emotional, mental or physical health could suffer.

How do you stop the niggling feeling of what you need to do pressing on you when you try to relax?

Here is how to be a freelancer who isn’t tied to the stress of it all

Walk it off 

I don’t do exercise easily. When I was in my twenties, this wasn’t a problem because I walked everywhere I went. I lost that somewhere along the line (I suspect it was about the same time I started dating people who owned cars) together with my flat stomach.

However I have rediscovered the joy of walking in the mornings and to meetings or catch ups. I also enjoy ending the day walking with the music blaring.

It has really, really helped clear my head and help me disconnect my work day (which is in my house) from my evenings off (which is also usually held in my house).

We have to exercise to maintain health, to offset all the sitting and produce more creative thoughts. 

Get used to the desk disconnect

It’s incredibly easy to get welded to your desk, to eat at it, to sit at it all day and all night.

This is why I now make myself get up and go and do something else at regular(ish) intervals. If I finish writing something or the CD needs changing in the background, I take these opportunities to go and do something else for ten minutes.

It really does help! My house is certainly cleaner and I feel less stressed by sitting in my home office.

You might find that your version is to work from libraries, hit the coworking scene, find a cafe office (coffice as the kids are calling them) or find other places such as in front of the TV or in bed. How to be a freelancer that loves working when they are working and yet gets to spend time doing other things too is entirely up to you.

Whatever works for you is good.

Stop social media scrolling

How to be a freelancer with freedom comes down to limiting our distractions. Social media is one of the biggest there is.

When I find myself on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and flicking in between, this is time for another break. As addictive, fun and productive feeling as these social media activities are, its time to remember that beyond the odd link for business, being a major player in the world of Facebook does not a career make.

So if you, like me, is finding the need to connect in this way, why not try writing that blog post you have been putting off, or take your scratch pad and plan out that idea or campaign you haven’t had the “time” to do yet instead?

I find my “to do lists” are better now that I choose to use  a giant done list sitting next to my desk. I add to it each week. I get a sense of achievement.

Or hell, just put on some very cheddar music and dance with your dog, broom, toddler or mannequin!

Make sure whatever happens, you don’t fall down into the big hole that is comparing yourself online. have a break and re-calibrate instead.

Focus on your own race

A lot of people will try to tell you how to be an expert in being a freelancer. They may even assume that they know how to be your version of what an effective freelance career may entail.

Yet how to be a freelancer isn’t clearly defined. There is no magic formula. And that’s the beauty of it.

A bunch of other people may have opinions on what you should be doing. That doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. Design the kind of working life you want to enjoy.

Play hooky occasionally 

The To Do List grows and grows until you feel like you’re underneath it trying to breathe, or every minute you spend doing something else means a minute you haven’t done towards cracking your work into the right shape- sound familiar?

The reality is though the human brain is not designed to be connected to the work world 24/7. Your eyes cannot handle staring at a screen all day, your back isn’t designed to be sitting at a desk all the time, your mind loses focus the more it doesn’t get to concentrate on what it is doing.

Do yourself a favour by taking a break, having a day off, enjoying your mornings or evenings because you will feel better and be more productive.

There’s no shame in taking advantage of the freelance lifestyle benefits.

Follow a passion that isn’t work

If you throw yourself into a creative project or cause, it can really help you gain perspective about your relationship with your freelance career.

Often, we tend to start believing our identity lives and dies with our freelance production. This is not the case.

As hard as your life may seem at times, being around inspiring people or people who face situations worse than your own can really reset your “whoa as me” clock pretty damn quick and ignite something a lot more positive.

Joining the Freelance Jungle for events or someone to talk to in our Facebook group could be just the injection of happy you need!

Be Creative

How to be a freelancer that enjoys their work is to share some of that creativity and fun with yourself.

It can be tempting to over think things, not allow time for creativity, to be caught up in day to day life… but the process is only as hard as you make it, trust me- no excuses!

The standard list of what you should and shouldn’t do (which I haven’t quite cracked as routine yet):

  • Cut out caffeine (makes the motor over-rev)
  • Reduce your alcohol intake (makes the motor rev the day after- hangxiety anyone?)
  • Eat better
  • Try something new and look for experiences, hobbies and adventures
  • Play with a pet (thank you Gibson the Labrador for being so truly wagtastic on hard days!)
  • Listen to music – and if it leads to a lounge room dance party, so what? You’re a freelancer

The bottom line, take time out for YOU!

beating work blues

If you are feeling stressed and need more help, also contact the super awesome people at Mental Health Association NSW.

How to be a freelancer is more than studying the ins and outs or knowing what software to own. It’s about looking after yourself and giving yourself the opportunity to be happy with the work you do.

Want more advice on how to be a freelancer with a happy career? Check out the Freelance Jungle now. 

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