Earlier last week, we gave you some tips on how to protect your mental health when working remotely. We thought it would be incredibly useful to tackle another important topic: freelance burnout.
When you’re responsible for everything, it can be hard to avoid working 24/7, additionally having to deal with various administrative tasks. Therefore, it's almost impossible to ‘switch off from work and unwind - we know it's overwhelming.
What is burnout?
The WHO classifies burnout as a syndrome stemming from unmanaged chronic workplace stress, characterized by feelings of exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, and reduced professional performance.
There is a fine balance between being busy and being overworked. Burnout is a signal that it may be time to stop and figure out what's going on with you.
Take some time to objectively assess the amount of stress in your life and find ways to reduce it before it's too late. Here are 10 tips to avoid burnout and manage stress:
1. Learn to say NO
It's important to know your limits in dealing with certain tasks, including the amount of time it takes to finish them. It is never too early, or too late, to begin setting boundaries for yourself.
Start with baby steps: work until a certain time or stop checking your email in the evening or on weekends. Take breaks when you are stressed.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to do, don't overcompensate by taking up more tasks you can't finish, instead, learn to say No and politely decline.
2. Use productivity tools
To minimize burnout, experts suggest planning your days. This will help you get organized and remind you of what you need to accomplish during the day, based on how you prioritized. You can also add blockers in your schedule for your time.
The right productivity tools combined with a personalized strategy to combat stress will help you avoid burnout. The trick is to recognize burnout triggers and ultimately manage your workload effectively.
3. Create your routine
While everything may seem significant, the fact is, you’re dedicating a lot of time and energy to the wrong areas. As a result, you end up focusing too much on things that are tedious or less meaningful.
Set a schedule for no more than 10 hours—8 would be best—and block off those hours. Start at 9 AM, just as if it were a regular job, and end at 5 or 6 PM. Nevertheless, if you’re a morning person, you could try a different approach—start at 6 AM and finish up at 3 PM; for night owls 11 PM to 8 AM could be an option.
As a freelancer, you should focus on ratings and the relationship with your clients. Mutually agree on a routine that works for both of you. However, do not overcompensate by working chaotic schedules–working in an unstructured manner is incredibly tiring and can only lead to burnout.
4. Eat well
If you're burned out, examine your current exercise program, sleep schedule, diet, relationships, and general workload.
Dark-colored vegetables, especially leafy greens like spinach and kale, contain high concentrations of folic acid, a nutrient that helps your body produce adequate levels of serotonin.
Try out different herbs and spices to see which ones work best for you: Peppermint, lavender, and turmeric are all known to promote relaxation and focus.
Try to diversify what you eat and resist the temptation of eating junk food! Although it's good to indulge in your cravings once in a while, you should not make it a habit.
5. Regularly exercise
When you're a freelancer, it gets increasingly hard to get up from your desk all day. Exercise is key in reducing stress and releasing those happy hormones.
Moreover, if you exercise at least once a day, you will start your day on the right foot, thus having the energy to tackle the next project. Go for a run or check out a gym class before you start working. Exercise should help lift your mood and positively impact the quality of your life.
The good news is that once you implement some strategic regular exercises, your stress levels will usually drop.
6. Find a hobby
If you feel overwhelmed by all the work and you need to recharge your batteries, you should try doing something you enjoy. Learn a new skill, try a new workout, pick up farming, or maybe bake something.
We know it feels like you might not have the time, however, challenging yourself in a new way can help you unwind, or even get you out of that creative block. Hobbies can be fun and break up a boring schedule without feeling like work!
7. Seek support
Reaching out to co-workers, friends, or loved ones might help you get over rough patches. When you are feeling down, either mentally or physically exhausted, reach out to somebody close to you. Having someone relate to the situations you are passing through can do wonders, and they might have some invaluable advice.
If you are constantly feeling tired, schedule an appointment with your physician. Your doctor may want to rule out physical health conditions that may be affecting your energy or mood. Maybe you require treatment, be it professional therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Work opportunities will always pop up, but your health must be prioritized.
8. Take care of yourself
While it’s hard to prioritize when you have so many other tasks on your to-do list, self-care is an important aspect of avoiding burnout and should be up there.
Self-care isn't just about finding ways to relax. It's about taking care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Creating your self-care strategy might serve as a preventative tool to keep you from becoming overstressed or burned out.
9. Seek social connections outside of work
You’ve mixed up your work-life so much, that you can’t find some time for yourself. And once you do, you’re probably too exhausted to go out for a drink and socialize with friends, so you just Netflix and chill. Does it sound familiar?
It's time to fight that urge. Social interaction provides amazing benefits not only for your mental well-being but also for your physical health, so work it into your schedule.
Try reconnecting with some friends you haven't seen in a while, hop on a bar crawl at the end of a demanding week, join some clubs for activities, and do something that gets you out of your comfort zone! It can be refreshing to interact with people outside your professional life.
10. Build long-term relationships with specific clients
If you find a client that you love working with, try and create a lasting professional relationship with him to see if they’ll hire you again in the future.
The goal is to have clients seeking you out, but you need to be active until that point. You should be routinely reviewing the work opportunities on HYVE and once you start to work on a project for a client, don’t think of it as a one-and-done deal. Try to build a long-term partnership with your existing and past clients. Furthermore, feel free to outsource to other freelancers, team up with them and grow from a solo freelancer into a freelancing business, reducing some of the burdens on your shoulders.
Having a good client relationship will keep your work motivation going and will make the job a happy experience to look back on.
Preventing burnout is your responsibility!
We aren't machines and maybe it's time to stop working like one. If you feel like you have been overworked by a specific client, or that you haven't been fairly compensated for your work, due to the additional fees charged by your platform, maybe it's time you switched platforms.
HYVE could be the perfect place for you, by creating a uniquely collaborative environment through its decentralized, blockchain-based freelancing platform. HYVE aims to democratize the workforce industry, by eliminating middlemen, fairly compensating freelancers for their work, and resolving disputes in a decentralized manner. In addition, it aims to give more to the community, ensuring that everybody gets the optimal outcome.
At the end of the day, remember that freelancing is about freedom, however, it also means taking good care of yourself, respecting your own time, since after all, you’re only human.
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