Ever been in a situation where, after finishing heaps of work and sticking to strict deadlines, you could not complete even a simple task? It is burnout, a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion brought on by the repeated demands of your commitments. The World Health Organisation has also categorized burnout as an occupational phenomenon in its International Classification of Diseases.
Symptoms of burnout:
1. Energy depletion
2. Mental distance from your job
3. reduced efficacy in the professional sphere.
It naturally damages mental health, consequentially leading to loss of productivity and earnings, and also puts workers under such pressure that they feel exhausted, empty, and unable to cope.
One of the significant benefits of working as a freelancer is not having a conventional schedule and the independence of choice.
Freelancers work for hours dictated by themselves. However, these advantages can turn into drawbacks. The absence of a strict schedule and too much independence of choice may lead to uninformed options leading to freelance burnout, i.e., the burnout caused by the work as a freelancer.
Steps for avoiding freelance burnout:
It becomes necessary to find ways through which you can avoid freelance burnout. Some of these ways that one may adapt to their schedule are as follows:
1. Take time to plan and scope work.
When you have multiple timelines with various clients, it is always a good idea to scope and plan tasks.
It will help keep you on track and give you a productivity boost when you stick to your timeline. You will also be more accountable to yourself and your organization. For example, as a freelance writer, ensure that while planning your next project, you are accounting and breaking down time for tasks such as proofreading, copywriting, etc., which tend to delay the process and, subsequently, sometimes lead to freelance burnout while writing.
2. Do not commit more than you can achieve
Commit to the work you can realistically complete at the expected quality. If you have unreasonable deadlines, try to communicate issues with your client. If you feel overwhelmed with the work you have undertaken, limit yourself to a certain number of projects that you would be able to complete based on your capacity. For instance, as a freelance journalist, you have two lengthy projects and a new technical assignment. It is prudent to ensure that you have time between finishing the two projects and starting the new one. Thus, as a freelancer engaged in projects, it is essential to ask yourself: "Do I have time to take up this new task?’ If the answer is "No," and you still take it up, you might face freelance burnout.
3. Give yourself Breathers
It is essential to give yourself breathers, not only before or after starting or finishing a project but also while completing them. You must make it a point to spend time with yourself by scheduling walks, listening to music, or picking up your favorite book, then adding another 30 minutes to your timesheet. These small pauses help you personally by keeping you happy and healthy and giving you a fresh perspective on your allocated tasks. Another important habit is to spend time on your hobbies, such as sports or music. It helps with reducing freelancer burnout to a great degree.
4. Change your outlook
Freelancing may cause monotony, and that may lead to freelance burnout. However, turn the setback on its tail. Use your freedom to work from anywhere to avoid burnout from your regular ecosystem. Changing your work desk from your usual study table to a café helps to ease freelance burnout.
5. Seek support and socialize
Isolation is one of the leading reasons that cause freelance burnout. It is vital to know that even as a freelancer, you can delegate work and get assistance, especially when you do not have as much expertise in a task. It helps in straying away from freelance burnout.
Schedule time to talk to friends and family in conversations that do not involve work. As mentioned earlier, you should scope out this time during your working week. So you will not feel that you are wasting your time.
6. Create Boundaries with clients
As a freelancer, you do not have specific working hours. It sometimes leads to a work schedule that may extend beyond the hours you were willing to work, leading to freelance burnout.
While you need to have short-term crunch times when you have to meet a deadline, try to avoid developing a pattern of overworking as a freelancer for an extended period. Questions like "Is freelancing free’ or "Does freelancing work’ are questions you, unfortunately, hear way too often! Even clients may cause demotivation and burnout! Clarify your prices and charges at the outset.
The important thing is not to overburden yourself with work. You can always do more work to make more income, but it is significant to enjoy what you do to avoid freelance burnout. It is important to remember that if you do not have balance, both your work and your health will suffer. Try to incorporate these tips into your daily routine. You will see differences that would make you a much healthier person and a better freelancer.