When you’re a freelancer, it can feel very tempting to not only say yes to everything you’re offered but also take on much more work than the normal 8-hour day can take.
Running your own business can put more pressure on freelancers to accept work whenever it comes up which often means during busier periods like the summer, freelancers find themselves working on multiple contracts at once.
With burn-out being a big issue for freelancers and one of the year's busiest periods coming up for contractors as they cover holidays, we explore how freelancers can avoid more work impacting their mental health and how balancing those multiple contracts doesn’t have to mean working more than 8 hours a day.
Accept Multiple Part-Time Contracts
As the summer holidays start, more clients are looking for freelancers to help cover their in-house teams meaning more contracts could be available.
Whilst we know it’s impossible to work 24-hour days, many freelancers do take on more projects than they should for fear of running out of work but this has a knock-on effect on their mental health. No one should be expected to work more than 7.5/ 8 hour days and still do a great job, so just because there are multiple contracts offered to you, doesn’t mean you should spend more than you usually would work on them.
Burn-out has a horrible way of creeping up on you and whilst you may feel capable of doing a little more a week to help, in the long-term working at that level of stress will impact your mental health and ability to concentrate, impacting the work you produce too.
Next time you’re tempted to take on several briefs at once, think about your work/life balance and whether it’s worth picking up a few extra hours a day over spending time doing something else that you love!
Learn To Say No More
It’s effortless when you’re solely responsible for your earnings to say yes to everything that comes your way but it has a direct impact on your own mental health and burn-out becomes a very real issue. Learning to say no more is something that comes with both confidence and practice so if you’re new to freelancing, we understand it can be hard.
We’ve previously spoken to many freelancers who share their own journey to saying no more, like Alex Cooper who was transparent about learning to say no more in his freelance working life. Being able to consider your own mental well-being is something that comes from taking on too much or working on higher-pressure projects so recognising it earlier on in your freelance career is super beneficial.
Turning down a project doesn’t mean clients won’t ever reach out again, in fact, they’ll appreciate your honesty if you’re simply too busy plus it indicates you're in high demand!
We’re strong advocates of finding a work/life balance with founder Shib having shared his own thoughts on mental health for freelancers previously. If saying yes to an extra contract means less time seeing family and friends longer-term, or working late in the evening it might be time to say no.
Book Your Own Holiday Break
If you’re buckling down for the extra influx of work this summer and want to take on a couple more contracts, make sure to book a break for yourself as a prize for working hard.
Taking regular days off is a tough one for freelancers who don’t get paid, so many of them go without days off. However, burnout is more likely to happen if you don’t take regular breaks so make sure if you’re taking on more work short-term, you’ve got some days off to look forward to. Enjoy the hard-earned cash, think of it as a pre-holiday payment!
Pay Attention To Your Mental Health
Having lots of fingers in lots of pies is fine for a short period of time but remember to check in and consider how you’re feeling. If you’re struggling to keep up with your workload, feel tired, snappy or generally not yourself you may be experiencing burnout.
Paying close attention to your mental health and wellbeing as a freelancer is essential as no one else will be able to tell you how you’re feeling or be able to step in when you’re doing too much. Try scheduling something you enjoy every day, whether that's a run, walk, or working from your favourite coffee shop so all your hard work is also enjoyable.
If you’re going to take on more work this summer and work on multiple contracts, make sure you have an end date in sight, take regular breaks during your day and book some days off after your busier periods to help get that work/life balance and avoid that dreaded summer burnout.