It's safe to say being a freelancer has many benefits. From creating a schedule tailored around your work and lifestyle to having more flexibility in developing your vision for how you run and market your business, it can't be beat.
While the positives are plentiful, it would be dishonest to say that freelancing is easy. Truth be told, it can be pretty stressful. Being your own boss doesn't just mean that you call all the shots. It also means that you are 100% responsible for every aspect of your business.
You are in charge of keeping yourself on task and producing results, even when you're not quite feeling motivated. Even though you can set your own schedule, you still have to adhere to deadlines.
But, it's not just client work and deadlines you have to consider. Running a freelance business comes with a hefty amount of behind-the-scenes tasks that keep your business operating smoothly. There's admin work, accounts receivable, payables, marketing…the list goes on.
With a plethora of tasks on your plate each day, it's easy for freelancers to begin feeling stressed out. Luckily, there are some ways you can combat all that stress and keep yourself from experience burnout.
Keep reading for 3 ways freelancers can reduce stress in their daily lives.
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Outsource Work, Systems, and Processes
As mentioned above, running a freelance business is often a pretty all-encompassing thing. Some, if not many, of the day-to-day tasks may fall out of your scope of expertise. This can make those tasks to manage. Not only do they suck up a lot of your time, but they can leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged. Neither of which is good for business or your mindset.
When it comes to those tasks, processes, or systems, outsourcing may be the way to go. Instead of trying to wear all the hats in your business, outsourcing lets you focus on what you do best. That way you can spend less time on the things you don't know how to do or simply just don't want to do. Plus, there's the added benefit of helping a fellow freelancer grow their business
Depending on where you're at in your business, you can also hire third-party companies to manage some of the bigger responsibilities in your business. Whether that's a company such as ClearFuze Networks for IT management or a marketing agency to handle lead generation and customer engagement, is up to you.
Outsourcing is essentially one of the best hacks to help freelancers reduce stress. Yes, there will be additional expenses to hire out, but what you gain in time and energy typically makes up for it. Not to mention the peace of mind that comes with knowing that a professional can handle those areas of your business much better than you will.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule, also known as Pareto’s principle, is a heuristic used by entrepreneurs and productivity enthusiasts around the world. The principle argues that 20% of your actions will yield 80% of your desirable outcomes.
This rule of thumb is a great guideline, and following it can be a helpful way to reduce stress as a freelancer. The point is to stop trying to do absolutely everything in your business. You don't have the time, energy, or resources for that.
Instead, focus on the core activities of your business. These core tasks are the ones that move your business forward and get you closer to achieving your goals. In short, these are the things that a) generate leads and b) turn a profit.
If a task isn't getting you closer to your goals—and worse, taking up too much time—it shouldn't be a priority. However, that doesn't mean tossing it aside completely. It may just be the perfect candidate for outsourcing.
When it comes to applying the 80/20 rule as a freelancer, Forbes contributor Kevin Kruse suggests the following:
“It’s important to identify your best (and highest-paying) clients. Of course, you don’t want all your eggs in one basket. But too much diversification will quickly lead to burnout. Focus on the money makers and strengthening those long-term relationships.”
Batch Your Workdays
Another option is to batch your workdays. This is a concept I learned from Ashlyn Carter (Ashlyn Writes) and it's pretty genius. It's kind of like batching work on a day to day basis, which is a productivity hack that a lot of people swear by, myself included.
If you're not familiar with batching, it's where you break projects down into steps (research, writing, editing, etc.) and work in that order. So, if you had 3 blog posts to write you'd start by researching all three, then writing all three, etc. until they were complete.
While similar, Ashlyn has “themed” days where she'll work on like tasks and only those tasks. The themes for her batch days are essential to her business, aka core activities. This allows her to focus on those important parts in a way that's productive and organized. In fact, her system is so well organized that she is able to limit client work to one day a week. The other days are focused on other parts of her business.
Your environment is a direct contributor to stress. If every day is a pure, chaotic free-for-all, then it makes sense that you're going to feel overwhelmed most of the time.
To reduce stress as a freelancer, you need to get organized. I'm not just talking about getting organized enough to get you by. No, I'm talking about a complete overhaul that includes your workspace, home, schedule, and mind.
Begin by decluttering your workspace, and your home in general. The state of your home and office impact your mindset. When things are a mess, you're more likely to have trouble focusing. So, it's important to have your environment as well-managed and under control as possible.
Project Management Tools for Organization
Once you're home and workspace are up to par, it's time to organize your project management and other areas of your business. Begin by planning your week and days out in advance. This is where a planner will come in handy, whether physical or digital. I personally use a combination of a physical planner and my Google calendar. If you prefer a physical planner, I've shared some of my favorites below.
Whatever planner method you prefer, I suggest time blocking your calendar so you have a rough itinerary to follow each day. To figure out what needs to get done and when I use Trello to track my project management. Trello is such a great tool and it's free, so if you need a project management system it's worth checking out.
I have a Trello board for each of my clients, which is filled with individual cards for each project we have lined up. Everything is organized by due date, so I can easily see what needs to get done. Every Sunday, I move upcoming projects to my “Weekly To-Do” board and then plan my week around those projects.
Clear Your Mind
Lastly, do a brain dump at least once a day. Not familiar with this tactic? It's similar to journaling but a little less organized. Take 10-15 minutes each day to write down ideas, worries, or things that are stressing you out. This technique is great for helping freelancers reduce stress and clear their minds.
While these three tips will help freelancers reduce stress, it's important to find a system that works for you. If you find that you're still stressed out after implementing different strategies, it might be best to just take a break.
Making an effort to practice self-care can help you get back on track. Whether it's taking a walk or a power nap in the afternoon, taking a break can help you recharge and refocus so you can be more productive.
Do you have a tip to help freelancers reduce stress? Share it below!