Whenever I read pieces about working freelance, the focus is almost always balance. ‘It’s important to have a balanced life’, ‘do x, y & z to achieve a balanced life’, ‘the only way to stay sane is to have a balance between work and play’ and so on. Whilst I think it would be great to have a balanced life, it’s not always achievable. And I think that’s okay! I think the beauty of freelance is that it’s different for everyone.
You’re not a bad freelancer if you’re struggling to find time for yourself. The last two – three months for me have been similar. I feel quite overworked and I haven’t had a lot of time to myself. But what’s the alternative? I just don’t do the work? Ultimately, I know a break will come.
As somebody who suffers with anxiety and depression, being busy is good for me. I can’t stand it when people tell me I work too much or that I need to take a break. I know they’re trying to be nice, but they don’t have a clue. Somebody recently tried to tell me that working from home wasn’t going to help my depression. What I love about freelancing is that it allows me to manage my mental health better. Freelancing is different for everyone and there’s a million reasons why. Today, I thought I’d talk about how I try manage my time as a freelancer.
I fill out my desk planner on a Sunday evening
I used to start my working week on a Sunday evening and work until the early hours of the morning. It eventually proved too much to keep up as I found myself starting the new week pretty tired. If things are particularly busy one week, I’ll try stay up Monday night instead. A lot of people suffer from Sunday night blues/anxiety and I’m one of those people too. I find it hard to relax sometimes and the anticipation of a new week sort of takes over.
I have a desk planner that I couldn’t live without; it’s colour coded and there’s a column for just about every aspect of my life. Before I go to bed, I make a point of filling it in. This way I can rest knowing I’m somewhat prepared for the new week. A lot of people advise against doing work-related things before you sleep, but it works for me.
I manage my time by tracking my days
In addition to having a desk planner I refer to throughout the week, I try track my days too. This was something recommended to me in CBT and I’m amazed at how much it’s helped. Each session I’d leave with a weekly activity planner. You write down what you’ve done each day and how you’re feeling. The idea is to basically reflect on how you felt. It’s helped me identify triggers and made me more aware of how much time I’m spending on certain things.
If this is something you’re interested in trying, the lovely Sian recently made a tracker!
I try plan as much as I can and keep things varied
A lot of my anxiety stems from things I cannot control. I think I’m getting better at dealing with this, but there are still things I like to do to try manage it. Planning as much as I can in advance – especially when it comes to workload – really helps. The first thing I do is make a note of all the things that are happening in the week (i.e. therapy, client calls, dinner/social things, appointments), followed by certain tasks that need doing on that day (i.e. competitions, emails). I then slot in time to work on other things like my blog. In addition to that, I try keep my day to day varied but it isn’t always possible. For example on a less busier day, I’ll spend the morning doing emails/admin and the afternoon writing.
I try listen to my body
One thing I really enjoy about my job is the fact that there is so much to it. Although this can be overwhelming sometimes, it does make it easier to change up my day if I need to. Some people may judge what to do by workload, but I like to try determine my day via what my body is telling me to do. Little things like these may sound like bullshit, but it’s honestly really helps me get through the day. For example, I’ve just had a really rough period this cycle. I woke up Monday PMSing hard, so I ignored all my emails until the afternoon. I blitzed through my work and went through them all in one go as opposed to throughout the day. It’s little things like this that really help!
These are just some of the many ways I try to go about my day and keep my anxiety at bay. What works for you?
Photography by Kaye Ford