Overwhelmed with Freelancing? How to Fix It, and How to Keep it from Happening Again!

stressedfreelancer

The last few months of 2013 were an absolute nightmare, the most stressful time I can remember since — well, ever.  I had just barely started this blog, I had a ton of client work, and a serious illness in my family had doubled my personal obligations.  Top that off with the approaching holiday season and a husband who travelled so much for work that I was beginning to think of myself as a single parent, and I was pretty close to having a breakdown.

Frankly, I was overwhelmed.  There were a lot of things that were beyond my control that contributed to my frazzled state, but there were also a lot of things that I did wrong as well.

I Quit My Time Management System

Since I was constantly on the go, I decided to ditch my trusty paper planner and go digital. I used, and quit, about 10 different apps, trying to find a digital system that worked like my old paper system.  While most of them worked exactly as they were supposed to, they weren’t working for me.  Being a visual person, I need to have my calendar and task list together, in the same app.  I did find an app that was suitable, but it frequently crashed, losing all my information.  Subsequently, things started falling through the cracks. And I was spending way too much time setting up new systems — time that should have been spent getting ahead of my work.

How to fix it:

Go back to what you know works for you.  Stressful times are not conducive to trying out a new method of time management!

How to avoid it:  

If you’re truly wanting to try a new method of time management, do double duty until you have the new system down pat and know that it’s working for you.  I’m still looking to go digital, but I’m not giving up my old-fashioned paper planner again until I find a system that I’m completely comfortable with.

 

I Procrastinated

Things got bad for me because I wasn’t prepared to be as busy as I was.  While I couldn’t have foreseen suddenly having to manage two households rather than one, I knew exactly what my other responsibilities were, and I put them off anyways.  As a freelance writer, my business usually slows quite a bit between Thanksgiving and New Years, so I started to let things slide, thinking I would have plenty of free time in December to play catch-up.  I was wrong.  Writing projects were still coming my way in December, and I didn’t have the free time I expected.

How to fix it:      

In a word:  Prioritize!  Do the absolute most important thing.  Then do the second most important thing.  Then the third.  Don’t do what’s not important.  I didn’t dust for over a month.  But I made it to my mother’s doctor appointments.  I didn’t watch T.V.  But I did complete all of my clients’ writing assignments.

Sometimes it’s just not possible to get it all done yourself, so ask for help.  I had my siblings and my teenage daughter help out with personal obligations so I could focus on work.  Outsourcing some of your work is another option.

How to avoid it:

Never make assumptions about your time or your business.  Do what needs to be done, each and every day.  Just as you wouldn’t quit marketing because you have plenty of work at the moment, don’t slack off thinking you won’t have much work coming your way.  Life has a funny way of surprising you.  And if you do find yourself in a slow spell, use that time to get ahead of what needs to be done.

 

I Was Over Stressed

It may be hard to keep calm and maintain a good attitude when life throws you a curve-ball, but stressing out is not the best way of handling any situation.  Succumbing to stress hinders your ability to focus and get your work done — which was exactly what I needed to do to relieve the stress!

How to fix it:

The first thing you need to do is to take a deep breath and calm down.  Take a realistic look at what’s truly going on — don’t just focus on the negative.  What are the positive aspects of the situation?  For me, I was panicking because there was too much for me to do. But the positive side was that I was doing good in my profession, and I was bringing in more money than I expected to be earning during that time frame.

How to avoid it:

Learn some stress management techniques now, before you become stressed.  Take charge of your thoughts — look for the positive in your life.  Practice yoga or meditation.  Steer clear of people or situations that you know will cause stress.

 

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