As a freelance writer, I know as well as anyone how big of an issue burnout can be. When you work for yourself from home, it becomes much more difficult to ‘switch off’ from work and relax.
After all, it’s not like you can just clock out at the end of the day, pass the baton to your boss or a colleague, and be done with it. No, it’s all on you. As a freelancer, your income totally depends on you and how well you communicate with clients, do your work, and run your business. That’s a lot of pressure.
All that pressure combined with a lack of clearly delineated work and home life can quickly lead to burnout. Burnout means different things to different people, but it’s essentially the feeling of being totally overworked and exhausted, and it can wreak havoc with your mental wellbeing.
It’s an awful feeling that you should try your best to avoid. That’s why I’ve put together 5 crucial tips for avoiding burnout. I’ve learned to follow this advice over time and it’s made my job much more enjoyable. These simple changes really work, so I’d recommend trying them. Now let’s get started!
1. Focus On Hours, Not Tasks
Ok, this is the most important tip I can give you for avoiding burnout. Freelancers have a tendency to approach their work day by looking at tasks they have to complete. For example, I used to say “Once I’ve written these 3 articles, I’m done for the day”.
The problem with this approach is that focusing on tasks can easily overface you and be really disheartening. Instead, I’ve found that you should focus on time.
You should set dedicated working hours and stick to them. For example, you might work from 9:00 – 17:00, Monday to Friday. Approaching your work like this means that you don’t end up taking work home with you if, for example, you don’t manage to finish your tasks on time. It can also improve your productivity as you’ll be forced to meet time deadlines, and help to more clearly separate your working life and your home life.
2. Find a Dedicated Workspace and Stick to it
Tip number 2 is to find a workspace and stick to it. That might be an office, home office, coffee shop, or anywhere else. The important thing is that once you’ve decided on your workspace, you stay there.
If you move around a lot from place to place it will be hard to settle into a routine and increase your risk of experiencing burnout when you feel like work follows you from place to place.
3. Maintain a Social Life
A big problem for many people that work from home is maintaining a social life. As you don’t have an employer, you probably don’t interact with anyone while at work. That lack of colleagues can create a sense of isolation and a lack of community around you.
It’s really important to try your best to maintain a social life outside of work to combat this. Join groups, classes, or whatever else it takes to surround yourself with people, and keep up with friends and family. Having people around you can really improve your mental wellbeing and help you to avoid burnout.
4. Reward Yourself After Work
After you’ve finished work, it can help to give yourself a reward. This will help you to feel like work is really over (so that you don’t carry it with you) and provide some much-needed positive reinforcement.
It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. For example, I reward myself with a nice cup of tea to help me relax. You could also try some other things to help you relax, such as a nice hot bath. Some people even take herbs and other relaxants to help them chill out after work is over.