Five Ways to Deal with the Stress of Living a Freelance
by Chris King
free agents, independent professionals and freelancers, we often face
stressful situations - too many projects, too few projects, difficult
clients, lack of sufficient cash flow, money worries, a glut of paper
and reading material - you name it. I just completed three and a half
weeks of jury duty - talk about total disruption of my freelance schedule!
In this article, I will share five ways that I deal with and minimize
stress in my freelance life. Use what works for you. We are all different.
The number one stress reliever for me is consistent exercise. It
is easy to become so busy that we put off exercising. After all, it is
time-consuming. Fortunately, I teach ten fitness classes a week, so must
be there. And yes, it does take up a good deal of time, but it also produces
more productive time for me. When I don't exercise as much - I used machines
several evenings during the trial, but it still wasn't as regular or the
same as usual - I find that little worries disturb me. These rob me of
solid working time. I also don't sleep as well, so have less energy for
creative pursuits. Even if I am dealing with a sticky situation and/or
a pressing problem, I feel so wonderful after a high-intensity workout
I can tackle just about anything with a clear mind and a positive attitude.
Another great benefit is the creative idea generation that occurs while
I am pushing myself physically.
Take the time to organize, organize, and organize. For me, there
is very little more therapeutic than organizing. If you have as many different
interests as I do - and most free agents, independent professionals and
freelancers do - you accumulate a huge amount of "stuff." Papers,
books and magazines to read; articles, contracts, and project information
to file; supplies of all types, computer disks and paraphernalia that
you need to be easily available. All of this can become overwhelming quickly,
take up a lot of searching time and produce an unfathomable amount of
stress. Again, we hate to stop what we are doing to file, sort and/or
create order, but it will save us so much stress in the future, it is
well worth the effort. Stephen Covey in his terrific book,The 7 Habits
of Highly Effective People calls it "Sharpening the Saw." He
tells the story of a man who is struggling to cut down a tree while using
a dull, rusted saw. He doesn't want to lose time by sharpening it, so
is making no progress. This is a great time to throw away papers, magazines
and stuff you haven't used for years. You may also find useful information
and ideas that you have forgotten about. I liken organizing to a thorough
Re-evaluate your working space and equipment. While we are talking
about "cleansing" let's also talk about cleaning and order in
our environment. In the process of organization, we should take a look
at how efficient and pleasant our work area is. I am not suggesting spending
a huge amount of money - especially if you are experiencing cash flow
stress - but adding a few extras to spruce up your office space, whether
or not it is in a room of its own, or part of your bedroom, dining room
or kitchen. Even if you feel that interior design is not your forte, by
adding a touch of color, a striking poster, a more comfortable chair,
a light catching mobile or a friendly goldfish (emphasis is on "gold"),
you will enjoy your daily endeavors with less stress. Check out books
and web sites on Feng Shui. You will be amazed by how the placement and
choice of colors and objects will change your life and career.
Make a plan and set goals. I won't spend a lot of time in this
article on goal setting, because I have already written a whole article
about the power of setting goals ( Use the
Power of Goals to Enhance Your Freelance Life ) and there are so many
fine books and tapes that deal with goal setting for you to read and listen
to. I just want to say that by knowing where we are going, we remove a
lot of stress from our lives. We know when to say "yes" and
when to say "no" along with the steps we need to take to achieve
our goals. It is the getting there that produces the fun and the peace
of mind we seek.
Network and socialize - we all need other people in our lives.
When we work on our own and mainly deal with clients, we can so easily
tend to become loners and avoid social contact with others. We don't have
to be involved with rowdy situations like those generated by the bar scene.
I find, however, that by joining groups and organizations that focus on
my interests and areas of business, I meet others with the same direction
and goals. We can discuss our victories and losses on an equal footing,
which helps to reduce stress. I find that these friends deal with the
same problems and worries I deal with. They can offer tips and solutions
and I can share what has worked for me. This win-win approach is incredibly
So, try some of my tips, continue the ones that work for you, and let
me know some of the ways that you reduce your level of stress. Here's
to a stress-free year for all of us!
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When I started doing the research for this book, I knew that my own experience as a Portfolio Careerist (having more than one career at the same time) wasn’t going to be enough.
After all, those of us who love and maintain Portfolio Careers also love the variety and thrive on doing things our own way. So, I put out a call to those I knew have or have had Portfolio Careers and would be willing to answer a series of questions.
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