Just as these are all wonderful and true, there are plenty of reasons for the self-employed freelancer to encounter terrific amounts of stress. Sometimes more than if they worked for a high-powered company.
Aside from the stress of having to find new clients and new jobs, freelances often experience stress because jobs come in crazy, sporadic bursts. One day your schedule is almost empty, and the next day it seems like you can barely keep up.
Deadlines can be overwhelming, and when one is overwhelmed, productivity plummets. The brain is no longer focused on creativity and action, but is scattered and reacting (not acting.)
When deadlines stack up, here's what to do. First, reduce stress by... Stopping. Sounds a bit radical, and it's really hard to do. But just stop. Listen to a great song. Go outside. Do anything that clears your mind for ten minutes.
Then examine the situation. There will be items that need to be done pronto, tasks that can be done later that day, and an exercise or two that can be done later in the week.
Sometimes an assignment will have to be delayed. It's hard to pick up the phone and make the call to say "I'd like to get a little more time on this job," but you'll be surprised to find how pleasantly effective this can be. Many clients often have no problem with a moderate delay. Give it a go, and give yourself one less stress factor.
Next, physically arrange the tasks before you in this manner. Yes, in stacks: Right Away, Later Today, Tomorrow, Delay.
You've just begun to take control of the situation. Even though the work ahead of you hasn't changed - it is still daunting - you will have the means and the organization to manage it.
If the nature of any of your tasks allow it, call upon a colleague who can help you. If you've never done this before, now is the perfect time to start. This form of subcontracting will cost you part of your profits, true... but in a pinch it allows you to get the job done, which is your number one priority. The nice thing about this sort of arrangement is your colleague will most likely send jobs your way when he or she gets overloaded.
It is easy to say that advanced scheduling and personal time management can ward off the majority of these problems. But the reality is... in the world of self employment, deadlines can go from zero to mind-boggling overnight.
The truth is, it's not a good idea on many levels to turn jobs down; and so we tend to take them all on. With a little resolve and these tricks up your sleeve, you'll get the jobs done well.
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