Freelancing, as we know it today, has globally changed the face of employment and all aspects related to it. It has made it possible for individuals to work as per their convenience without the constraints of geographical and social factors. At the same time, it has enabled even small corporations to work with highly skilled professionals for short term projects without affecting their budget.
Freelancing, despite its benefits, has also brought a set of entirely new challenges for people who have opted for it. With freelancing and Work from Home (WFH) set to become even more popular in the post-COVID-19 economy, the number of people suffering from the ill effects of technology and online work will increase substantially. Lack of job security, constant pressure to perform well, a general sense of anxiety to learn more and fear of missing out (FOMO) on excellent opportunities take a heavy toll on the mental health of a freelancer.
We discussed earlier What is Mental Health and how to stay mentally fit. Through this article, we will try to address the issue of side effects of the ‘Always On’ mentality of freelancers and discuss ways to use technology without compromising on the quality of our lives.
Why Mental health of freelancers take toll?
- People generally think that freelancers get a lot of holidays and free time. While it is true that freelancing comes with the benefit of flexible work hours, freelancers are also prone to overworking.
- Freelancers do not get weekends off, nor they get paid for sick leaves. Due to the contractual nature of their work, they have to take care of all “permanent-employee” perks themselves. For some people, this leads to mental pressure in case of emergencies.
- Freelancers are responsible for personal branding, marketing, sales and closing of client contract themselves. These add-on tasks often add up and leave little time to do actual work, if work assignments are short-term.
- Freelancers usually take too much work because they feel they have a lot of time, which results in burning out quickly.
So, how can you manage your time and work effectively too?
1. All Work and No Play‘ is a big NO
Have a break – Have a KitKat: While you can replace the KitKat with a Dairymilk, you shouldn’t replace these short breaks with work. Small breaks at regular intervals ensure that you don’t tire up your muscles and eyes by overstraining. Short breaks also help you have high efficiency for a long duration. These breaks can be even for few days in-between different projects. For example, I frequently take 2-3 days break from work to rejuvenate and relax my mind and body.
Go on a work trip: The best part about freelancing is that you can do most of your tasks with just an internet-connected laptop. So, if you really want to go out of the town for a change, just pack up and go on a work trip. New environment, people and view brings fresh perspective and increase productivity.
Learn to say No: Owning to future uncertainty of work, freelancers often avoid saying no to an offer. However, overworking can lead to poor motivation and lack of productivity. Avoid taking too many jobs at a time and create a realistic schedule. Make it a habit to take weekends off, fix work hours and relax your mind.
2. Don’t You Worry Child!
Worrying is something that comes for free when we subscribe to a freelancing career. Will I ever get another project? Can I make a living with this? How can I stay up to date? Are my clients happy? These are certain questions that almost every freelancer can relate to. It is not always possible to eliminate anxiety, but it surely can be managed.
Set aside time to worry: Taking control of free-floating anxiety will help you stay motivated and prevent you from burning yourself out. Set aside a fixed amount of time daily to think about all your worries and concerns and jot them down in a diary or a journal.
Cherry pick the problems: Once you start listing your apprehensions daily, you will be able to figure out the ones that make a consistent appearance in your lists. Talk about them to your close ones or get in touch with an expert on that matter to eliminate that issue then. For example, if job security is something that’s your primary concern, then you should go for long term projects extending six months and beyond.
Back to Basics: Abraham Maslow gave a hierarchy of needs.
He explained how individuals start from basic survival needs and end at self-actualization. A lot of ambitious freelancers can also get ahead of themselves and create unnecessary anxiety. Thus, if you are an individual who is just starting, then you should just focus on basic needs like income, projects, and security and not worry so much about attaining full potential, prestige, and a long-term client.
3. The Body is a Temple, the Mind its Altar:
Exercise: Research shows that at least 20 minutes of regular aerobic, rigorous exercise reduces anxiety. With a fresh dose of feel-good hormones every day, you will be able to get more output in lesser time. Moreover, stretching can help you combat the stiffness that is caused due to sitting in front of a laptop for long durations.
Daily Digital Detox: The constant urge to check your mail, LinkedIn, online courses, and social media can get the better of you in the long term. To overcome this, you can carve out a portion from a day(2-3 hours if possible) in which you maintain distance from all sorts of digital devices and spend time with your loved ones.
Yoga and Meditation: A bit of yoga and meditation first thing in the morning can help you keep negative thoughts at bay for the rest of the day. You can even join yoga classes or learn meditation from a wellness expert.
Work forms just a part of a person’s life and it should be treated likewise. One should always remember the reason they chose freelancing over office jobs. If it was because of a sense of freedom and independence, then they shouldn’t let anything stop them from enjoying that freedom.