The most attractive feature of freelancers seems to be the happiness that they enjoy. The perks of setting your work hours, being your own boss, and setting your limits are definitely something that regular salary-workers cannot avail.
Charmed by these benefits, you decide to get into the realm of freelancing as well… But for some reason, you feel more exhausted and depressed than you first anticipated.
Reasons for having a Miserable Freelancing Experience
Chances are that you have made some seemingly small but, in practice, very serious mistakes that have taken away the very purpose that you stepped into freelancing for. The first thing you need to do is to figure out what those mistakes might be.
Before you start to grow on some positive aspects, you need to balance out the negative ones.
Following are some of the causes that might be affecting you.
- Desk-bound lifestyle – Freelancers mostly have to sit in front of their computer’s screen at all times. This sedentary way of living through days can lead to severe depression at times.
- Fluctuating prospects – The stress from not finding a suitable amount of gigs or the fear of losing consistent income sources can also take a toll on your mental health.
- Mixing work and home – Studies have shown that most freelance workers somehow feel obligated to work even during vacations! They fail to separate both aspects of their lives.
- Cashflow Troubles – The disruptions caused by a delay in cash flow may cause you to feel miserable. Whether it is from a check not clearing or from the amount being too less for your troubles, every freelancer faces some issues regarding the influx of money.
- Loneliness at work – Having no social life at work can be a major cause for you to feel drained. Freelancers face a situation where that might not be something that they can run away from. Their freedom has a high cost; a lack of anchoring to a company’s traditional work environment.
- Sleep deprivation – From the effects of sitting in front of a screen for hours on end, sleep does not come easy. This starts a vicious cycle where people continue to make their lifestyle worse.
- Poor diet – Yes, you read that correctly. Freelancers often neglect eating healthy food and something as insignificant as eating pre-packaged fast food can influence your mental stability.
The good news is that most of these downfalls can be overcome by some simple changes and a little awareness of what you are doing.
So how to start being happy as a freelancer?
Well, for starters, serious organization of your work. Secondly, improve yourself at managing all that work. And third, try to always keep a positive attitude towards these changes.
Here are our top picks for things that will help you offset the above-mentioned issues and achieve a happier lifestyle while also enjoying the perks of freelancing.
Set Strong Boundaries between Work and Leisure
This is perhaps the most important step that you can take in order to achieve mental stability while freelancing. Having no interference while working will prevent any emotional exhaustion. To prevent this mix of work and home lives, you can set dedicated areas where you feel you would be most focused.
Do not keep working at a single work desk that is faced towards a brick wall in a darkened room. Keep on moving! Be it at a library, a local park bench, a cafe even… Any change of scenery will help you freshen things up. If you are designating an area at your home, make sure it is stylized to your liking. Pinterest is a good platform that can help you achieve that.
A coworking space is probably one of the best options for a freelancer if you are looking for a quiet place, filled with like-minded individuals. This also helps you to expand your social network which will greatly affect your long-term improvements. The more you make your workplace comfortable for yourself, the more productive your mind will become.
This dedication towards creating a workplace will put you into the mindset of working and fight off any possible distractions around. Moreover, it works both ways. Once you step out of your working zone, your mind will automatically help you relax.
Have a Fixed Working Schedule
Researches have continuously shown that more working hours do not equal more productive hours.
Do not feel overwhelmed by the road to success that you end up spending every waking hour working tirelessly.
This unchecked working schedule will take a toll on your relaxation time and make you less productive to a point that you will start achieving far less than even regular-hours office workers.
Make a personalized work schedule. This does not mean that you have to stay in the 9 to 5 mentality. Figure out which hours suit you the best. When does your mind feel most productive? If it is from 12 pm to 3 pm, incorporate that into your schedule. If you feel that it peaks after 6 pm, consider that in your timetable.
Having relaxation breaks in between working hours will keep a balance to your lifestyle and give you an opportunity to do activities that make you happy.
These breaks will also help you amplify your work rate and recharge your system.
Inside those working hours, you can get rid of all the distractions, such as your mobile phone, social media, etc, because your mind will know that it is time for the grind!
Keep a Health Check
Another thing that freelancers often forget while being lost in the daze of continuous working, is keeping a check on their body. If you end up sacrificing your sleep hours to work, you have already gone past the limit.
A healthier body equals a healthier mind. Proper care and maintenance are necessary for your body to keep up to its correct functioning. Stick to a balanced diet and ensure that you are getting plenty of sleep each night. Do not substitute water with alcohol. These are the few basics that will keep a healthy connection between your body and mind.
Another aspect of achieving a healthier and more productive lifestyle is exercise. If you can, join a gym in order to fully develop a fitness schedule. This will help you reduce any probable stress from work and quickly raise your mood. The endorphins released from a workout boost the sense of happiness.
Build a Supporting Social Network
A healthy social circle is directly linked with having a healthy lifestyle. You might find it difficult to maintain contact with friends and family members as a freelancer. However, even some slight tweaking of schedule in order to make time for this important aspect of your life can actually improve your overall well-being.
Be it for personal or professional purposes, having a wider array of people that you can talk to will ultimately benefit you.
Remain positive and never end things with someone on bad terms.
You never know when they might become helpful. You can further enhance this process by attending seminars and conferences, joining online communities to share experiences and shortcomings, helping others with their struggles, bouncing off ideas at forums – the possibilities are endless!
Manage your Sources of Income
Achieving financial stability is the ultimate task for any individual’s working aspects. Apply the benefits of freelancing by managing your sources of income.
There is no reason for you to stick to a certain set of clients. Continue to broaden your reach at all times. This will give you a mental sense of relief that your steady flow of income will not be affected if some unexpected circumstances occur to one of the clients. Find out what your passions and skills are in order to expand your work inputs.
Managing your sources also means that sometimes you have to learn to refuse certain clients. If you feel that any client is not providing you with the value for your time, politely reject the offer and instead put your precious time into high-paying clients that are offering better prospects. You can do this by defining the terms of your working hours and communicating clearly about your input into the tasks. This will also keep you from overloading yourself by taking on more work than what you can deliver.
It is easy to be fearful of the quieter months and bite into more than what you can chew off… Organize your work and time frames so that you are always aware of what’s coming up!
So you have been working tirelessly for a couple of months now. You can feel burnout impending. How do you take care of this imminent exhaustion? The answer is as simple as it gets… Make use of the freelancing perks!
First of all, be proud of yourself. Acknowledge what you have achieved and be happy about it. Good job!
Secondly, take some time off. Use the high rate of earning from freelancing by giving yourself a period where you can simply shut off your brain and completely relax.
The best way to do so, you might ask? Book a holiday! Completely switch off your work and keep yourself sane by enjoying something that makes all that hard work worthwhile.
Treating yourself every now and then is the best counter for all the negative emotions that you might have been dealing with. You can also set these rewards milestone-based so that you always have something to look forward to while you are working.
Some Extra Helpful Tips
There are countless other minor things that you can do in order to achieve your desired way of life. These may seem insignificant but collectively can have a major role in determining your happiness status.
Following are some of these tips that you can further work on to achieve happiness;
- Work smart, not hard.
- Invest your time by taking courses to learn new skills.
- Stretch periodically every hour during work.
- Remove ties from toxic individuals, whether they are friends or family even! Surround yourself with people who support you rather than bring you down.
- Set realistic expectations for your income, especially during the starting months.
- Add a penalty clause for late payments.
- Don’t make any assumptions about people. Treat them professionally.
- Communicate effectively regarding the issues and always keep a positive attitude.
- Do not live on the edge. Save up for the future!
Ending with this:
Freelancing takes up a lot of your time and you will have to sacrifice a lot to get where you want to. As long as you can keep the spark of passion alive, you can certainly achieve your goals.
Expect the shortcomings to happen. During these phases of anxiety and depression brought about by freelancing, remember why you chose this lifestyle in the first place. Think about your inspirations and what drove you towards this pathway.
Keep your morale up! Tell yourself that your life and dreams are too important for you to give up and that you need to be healthy mentally and physically in order to achieve them.
And above all, start incorporating the techniques mentioned above to boost your happiness and rekindle your excitement!