Get a community. Get a cheer squad. Running a business can be an extremely lonely place at times, especially if your well-meaning friends and family have either:
a. Never run their own business before, or worse...
b. Run their own business before, in a completely different industry, and freely offer you 'advice' on what you should do!
So get yourself a community who can open doors for you, sling you work when they have too much and you have none, or just connect the dots for you when you've been staring at them for far too long!
Find some business buddies and mentors, like-minded people who have 'been there are done that' or are in a similar position to you to be your sounding boards & supporters. It can be lonely working as a freelancer.
Schedule an hour each week to feel all the emotions that comes with being a freelancer. Then the rest of the week do all that you can to pump yourself up and put negative feelings to the side when they arise. They now have a timeslot, they are not welcome to trespass during the week.
Being your own boss it is way too easy to work 24/7 because you feel like you need to always show up. However, showing up means also being present and having the mental wherewithal to know what is happening, and you can’t do that if you’re burnt out. Set up business hours early on, not just for your clients but for yourself. Be firm about not working outside those hours. Taking care of yourself means you’ll have the energy to take care of your clients as they deserve.
Start your day by ‘getting ready for work.’ For me, it's about changing out of sleep clothes into comfy around-the-house clothes, but doing my hair and putting earrings on. Then at the end of my workday, I take my earrings off. It's a simple trick so my mind and body knows when to switch out of ‘work mode’.
Take every piece of advice (including this one!) with a grain of salt. Running your own business is all about finding what works for you and helps you achieve your goals. What’s true for one freelancer might be all wrong for your business, clients, finances, or mental health, so seek advice freely, but take it judiciously.
If you're your own boss, you owe it to yourself to be a good boss. Recognise your successes, give yourself time off when you need it, invest in your skillset, be nice to you. Be the best boss you ever had.
Most freelancers work on a computer and sit for more than 8 hours a day. If you're not careful, your back or neck may hurt. You may also feel burning sensation in your eyes. To tackle this issue, take short breaks and take a walk outside. Look at the greenery, stretch your muscles. Learn some exercises to help with back pain.
For freelancers, work-life balance is always a work in progress. Some days and weeks you’ll achieve this better than others. Take stock of your mental health frequently, and look for patterns. Figure out what worked and what didn’t, and develop a de-stressing regime that works for you. Remember, you are the primary business asset, so take care of yourself.
Start using a timer as soon as possible. Not only does it help you stay on track and avoid burnout from overworking, but it also helps you figure out your worth and how much to charge. Rounded has one built in, and it really helped take away the stress when I was starting out.
In my early years of being a freelancer, I struggled with drawing clear boundaries between work and home. I recommend rituals between shutting down for the day and lounging on the sofa for the evening - a long walk, workout, a call to a family member, even a hot shower. Anything that makes sure that you completely shut down for the day instead of moving from your work desk to your sofa and continuing to check work mails and messages.
Be intentional about caring for yourself. Take days off before your body warns you. Write clauses in your contracts to protect yourself and your income. Take care of your health. Plan for retirement. You’ll thank yourself later.