Updated: Jun 30, 2021
If you are just getting started on your freelance journey, this might seem like a far-off problem to have. But believe it, every freelancer who has put the word out and put in the work and time, will at some point find themselves overwhelmed with work. Here's how to avoid getting there.
1. Learn to say no: When I started freelancing, I was hungry for clients and an impressive list of accomplishments. This made me open to taking on any kind of work. Sometimes, this included work I wasn't proud to be associated with. Over time, I learned that saying "yes" to every potential client, while it brought in some kind of income, was not the smartest strategy for avoiding exhaustion and stress. If a project is not going to fulfill you but will cause you anxiety and bring out the worst in you, it is worth it to say 'no' from the get-go.
2. Delegate tasks and save time: Delegation sounds like such an expensive privilege when you're still figuring out how to keep your head above water. But there comes a time when even the penny-pinching freelancer will have to hire an accountant to handle their taxes or a web designer for their website. If you want to be a successful freelancer without feeling tired all the time, you will have to learn how to focus on doing the important work while delegating less important tasks to third parties. Hire a virtual administrative assistant, a social media manager, or, in my case, send your kids to daycare/preschool even if it's just for 3 days a week. These are worthwhile investments, and time is your most valuable asset. Find ways to make more time to do the things that actually grow your business.
3. Have a schedule (business hours): Whether you're running an agency or a one-person operation, business hours are a must. It is normal that as a freelancer, you will oftentimes work around the clock. But your clients don't need to know this. Have posted working hours and be strict about it. That means turning off client communications after certain hours to allow you to focus on other tasks. It also means being available to clients during those posted business hours, whether it is communicating with them by phone, email, or social media.
4. Start an exercise regimen: This one is a life-saver. Not only is exercise good for the body, but it is also great for your mind. Walking/exercising helps to de-clutter the mind and give you fresh ideas and new perspectives. Personally, I'm at my best when I have an exercise routine, usually long, brisk walks. It is also a great cure for writer's block. I have tried it and found it to be very effective when done without headphones or any other type of distraction. That's when I notice the cooing baby with the smiling parent, the greens of the leaves, the pinks of the flowers, and the blues and whites of the skies. Inspiration!
5. Learn to live and breathe: As a freelancer, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the task of growing a successful business, but be assured that with time and perseverance, things will begin to fall into place. While they do, take the time to savor all that it entails - the ups and the downs. We have all been through it. Believe me, it gets better with time.