Freelancer Burnout Effect: 8 Great Tips to Overcome It

Is your body giving you some signals that you should stop and take a break? Are you feeling drained and extremely fatigued?

The burning of the midnight oil, rushing of deadlines and long hours in front of your computer has given you not only mental stress but physical torture such as eye ache, stiff neck, and swollen tendons.

Working as a freelancer may often lead to working long days and excessive hours. Perhaps the passion of work has driven the freelancer to become a workaholic.

8 Great Tips for You to Battle the Burnout Effect

Overworking can seriously harm a freelancer’s creative flow, productivity and health. No matter what profession you are in, you need to strike a balance between work and rest. To have adequate rest is to prepare you for the long battle ahead.

Here are some tips on how to counter the freelancer burnout effect of working long hours.

1. Set Your Reasonable Working Hours

Setting Working Hours
Image source: andrea

The most common factor that contributes to a freelancer burnout is overwork. Most freelancers struggle with setting appropriate working hours and sticking to them. It’s always unexpected circumstances that force the freelancer to expand their working hours. There are times when upcoming deadlines or last min changes that may force the freelancer to work for longer hours, but that should not be a daily routine.

The best way to tackle this issue is to set a schedule that involves only working a number of hours a day. Plan your timetable well ahead and stick to it. You may want to consider turning off your cellphone or email after working hours. You won’t worry about what you are unaware of. Let your clients know that you do not entertain frequent last minute changes and any late night calls.

If you have some fantastic stroke of inspiration or idea during your free time, just make sure you have pen and paper handy and jot the idea down – it will wait until you are back at work!

2. Segregate Your Working Space from Your Living Space

Working Space
Image source: field_manual

One of the problems that freelancers have is that the workspace and living space are often the same. This is especially the case when they usually work from home. You should have a separate room or space in your home that is used solely for work.

Ideally, you should rent an office but if you can’t afford it yet, you should avoid having other distractions like the bed, TV or any gaming consoles in your workspace and vice versa. You should be able to walk away from your workspace in your free time and be able to relax and not think about work.

3. Learn to Say No

Saying No
Image source: Susan & her 5d

Often, freelancers are bothered with excessive or rather unnecessary requests from friends, relatives or even clients. It’s always tough to turn them down, but there is probably no quicker way to burnout than taking on such requests that you don’t really want to do.

Refuse them politely but firmly and explain your reason for rejecting them. It could be your work schedule or any other reason. You can however assist them by referring them to another colleague or subcontractor.

4. Share Your Burden

Sharing Burden
Image source: twg1942

You may be able to consider outsourcing some of your work to other freelancers. There are plenty of opportunities for freelancer to outsource. You may wish to choose someone who is reliable and whose work is of a certain quality as your reputation is on the line through their work.

This could be a win-win situation as you’ll be able to establish a long-term relationship with other freelancers that you have outsourced the work to.

5. Re-Charge by Playing Hard

Play Hard
Image source: The Cliffs Apartments

Taking time away from work is absolutely necessary in order to re-energize yourself. Freelancers should enjoy the privilege of any other working professional by going on a vacation and playing.

Play hard while you are on vacation or do something that you enjoy for a few days. This also provides a good benchmark to see if your freelancing business can continue to run with you not around.

6. Read Your Body & Seek Professional Treatments Early

Seek Treatment
Image source: Little Miss Sunshine

If your body has been giving out signals that you are unwell, seek professional medical help early. Do not delay or turn a blind eye to it hoping it will just go away naturally. The longer you drag out your sickness, the more it will come back to haunt you.

Avoid being your own doctor or taking medicines that have been hanging around for ages since your last clinic visit. You want to get back to full health as soon as possible rather than fighting a long battle with a niggling sickness.

7. Take Good Care of Yourself

Take Care of Your Body
Image source: Michelle from Buffalo

There is good stress and bad stress. Having some good stress is necessary to motivate you to continue working and to keep you focused. The most important factor is still you. Take good care of your body by eating healthy foods and taking regular exercise.

Avoid unnecessary risks, such as gambling, jaywalking or any action that will bring you unnecessary risk and stress. Once you take good care of yourself, you will become more productive with a better chance of avoiding sickness and accident.

8. Reflection and Self Hypnosis

Self Hypnosis
Image source: W3inc

When all is done, you may want to practice self-hypnosis. Think of the positive things, what kept you going, your goals etc. Celebrate every success and accomplishment by rewarding yourself with a small treat. Self-acknowledgment will make you feel good about the things you are doing.

Share the joy with others by socializing with positive people. Hanging around with positive people will help to channel those great energies and keep you fresh and motivated. Avoid hanging out with pessimistic and worrying people, as they are more likely to make you more stressed as you will be spending a lot of time trying to lift them up.

Avoid That Burnout!

Burnout is inevitable, especially in the fast paced society of today. It's totally up to us to enjoy what we love to do, to actually help to reduce the burnout feeling.

Are you undergoing the burnout issue, and if so, how do you handle it? Do any of the above tips works for you? Why not share your suggestion with us by leaving a comment below?

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17 Comments & 10 Pingbacks

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  1. July 2, 2010 at 11:10 PM

    The hard things to do are #1 and #3.
    Hard to say no so you got work more.
    btw, thank for your good advice :)

    • July 3, 2010 at 12:37 PM

      Hi Fandy,

      Yes, it's always hard to say "No" especially when the request come from your relative and friends. Perhaps, it's the kind nature of freelancers to help others. :P

    • July 6, 2010 at 5:09 AM

      Agree, that's pretty hard, but very important.

  2. Kim
    July 5, 2010 at 12:35 AM

    Great tips! I hope I can use them to my full advantage and get that hated burnout away!

  3. July 6, 2010 at 5:19 AM

    Some great tips here, thanks for the advice.

    I really need to take action on point #2. I use the same area for socialising (online), designing and for music production. I have a large room too, so I think I need to set up another desk for my design work.

  4. July 6, 2010 at 7:19 AM

    Totally agree with the above and I too have the biggest problem with saying no, and especially to friends and family. Also have to admit that I fall foul of pretty much every topic raised there and rarely get time to myself so there is no playing hard at the moment. Another thing that I do have is, being of a kind helpful nature, I get on well with clients and try to help out where best I can, sadly this leads to becoming "friends" with these clients which means that they're then eligible for "favours" or "mates rates!", two other complete drains on freelancer's resources. Of course, once you're no longer available to offer mates rates or favours, either because your business or your life went down the pan, where are these so called "mates" then?

    The only thing I can think of to add to this, which goes along with the self hypnosis thing is to actually record yourself talking positively about things that you want to achieve, where you want to be, your goals and dreams, think of and name people that you WANT to say NO to as if you were actually talking to them and then, when you go to bed, or if you get any relaxation time, a power nap in the afternoon can sometimes give you that extra boost of energy to get you through the rest of the day, but by listening to the recording playing you should have more confidence in saying NO to someone that you didn't before. Give it a try, see if it works, if not, nothing lost apart from you feeling like an idiot talking to yourself. It's something I used to do and i really need to get back into the habit again.

    Good luck fellow freelancers and hope all goes well for your future. :-)

    • July 6, 2010 at 11:58 PM

      You really should slow things down sometime, thanks for sharing your experiences.

  5. July 6, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    the most important thing is sleep! freelancers forget the importance of the 8 hr sleep. sleeping well can change everything form your body's energy to your mind's functioning, trust me!

    • July 7, 2010 at 12:00 AM

      Sleep is so essential in recovering your body. Having adequate sleep will in fact make you more energetic and alert hence increase your productivity. Burning the mid night oil just isn't good and should happened in the first place if you plan well.

      Cheers!

  6. July 6, 2010 at 11:49 PM

    Thank you for the great advice! Have to concentrate on priorities and one of them is our health. Do agree with Cin about "the most important thing is sleep"! Working on to break the late nights cycle.

  7. Choose2BHappy Designs
    July 10, 2010 at 2:08 AM

    Thanks for the reminders. Nice article.
    Wouldn't it be great if THESE were the things the tape playing in our heads kept saying?
    :)

  8. July 16, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Thanks a lot for this great tips. :)

    • July 16, 2010 at 12:13 PM

      Segregate Your Working Space from Your Living Space
      Huhu. This could be soooo hard for me to be changed. Hufh! My room is too small. Hope at a time, I'll have a big one.

  9. Rudy
    August 29, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    I'm currently suffering from burnout. I recently graduated and was working non-stop for the last 2 years. I did not take time to eat, exercise, or sleep on a consistent basis. I got really sick and am now forced to take time to get back on track. All of these tips are useful in overcoming burnout. Thank you!

  10. September 25, 2010 at 6:53 AM

    great post. happy to read it.

  11. December 3, 2011 at 10:40 PM

    VERY THANKFUL TO U FOR POSTING GOOD TIPS.

  12. January 10, 2012 at 1:19 AM

    Interesting article. Freelancers do stretch for work when they have it in handy and tend to feel tense during job less time.

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