Is freelance pressure starting to haunt you? Are you constantly feeling overwhelmed by the amount that is expected of you?
You are not alone.
Freelancers often say to me:
- I have too much to do
- This setback has really cost me!
- It feels never-ending
- Someone else will pip me at the post
- This has cost so much, I can’t abandon it
- I can’t afford to make a mistake
The antidote is fairly simple: Lean in on incremental growth
- Small steps make the progress
- It is not permanent – no difficulty ever lasts as long as we think
- Reflect on small wins and what you have done
- Learning by doing is its own reward. Get in there and play and learn regularly!
- Done is better than perfect. Always.
And break it down
- Using time instead of task line items. E.g., Write for one hour before email, edit for an hour
- Timeboxing tasks. E.g., Open email at 10am and 2pm, set meetings to hard timelines, scheduling morning and leaving afternoon loose
- Squeaking a dirty list in. I write a list of scrappy, untidy tasks and squeak them into bald spots in the timetable
- Commit to fun in the morning. Use curiosity to power you through less appealing tasks.
- Mix it up. Focussing on only one job for hours on end for days and days gets tiresome. Do what you can to keep your brain curious by switching up the work as needed.
- Use what you have available. Don’t block yourself by relying on things you’ll never obtain or invest in.
- Reward momentum over completion. Remind yourself of the progress you are making.
And make it easier for yourself to succeed on your terms:
- Ask for help –get an accountability buddy or talk to someone who understands the pressures and problems associated with freelancing
- Have a doona day – not all days have to be bright, shiny money makers. Some can be days off. And others can be the days where we work from bed in front of comforting TV
- Delegate some of the workload – hire a virtual assistant or look at what you can do to automate some of your processes
- Reduce your to do list (red pen etc) – a lot of the tasks we assign ourselves in life aren’t as critical as we convince ourselves they are
- Set boundaries – when and how you engage with technology, email and browsing the internet can have a profound effect on your productivity
- Spend less time at the desk – the more time you spend away from the pressure of work filling your life with experiences, friendships, family and exercise, the more you realise work is but one aspect of our lives that define who we are
- Chase what you want – if you got into this to be a better parent, manage your disability better, travel, work on side projects, enjoy greater flexibility etc, put that first. Then design the workload to fit around it. Not the other way around
Don’t recreate your previous jailers
Society may have a questionable relationship with work, human value and what it means to be productive. But that doesn’t mean you have to recreate that narrative in your freelance business. Be the boss you wanted someone to be to you – to yourself, your colleagues, the people who support you and your clients. And enjoy the difference.