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Stress Management Techniques for Freelancers

how to be an entrepreneurHave you ever wanted to be your own boss? Of course, we all have! But instead of risking every penny on a business that may not make it and wondering if you actually have it in you to be a successful entrepreneur, you might consider offering your talents and services to the highest bidder. A freelancer is by definition an uncommitted independent, a free agent that typically works for dozens, even hundreds of employers over the course of their career. Rather than tying themselves down, these sought-after professionals often move from assignment to assignment as they please.

What are the benefits?

All freelancers are self-employed, i.e., they are their own bosses. Yes, they have a project manager or coordinator that they must answer to, but the fact they are not traditional members of the staff gives them great freedom. They can typically make their own schedules and even work from home if they please. Just as long as they get their projects or assignments in on time, their temporary bosses probably won’t ask many questions. Work life balance is in their hands.

Freelancers also have the option of picking and choosing the assignments that interest them the most. By comparison, a traditional employee cannot refuse a project that is assigned to him by his boss. He must do the work even if is tedious and redundant and he has completed similar tasks many times in the past. With that said, the life of a freelancer is not an easy one.

Common problems

Whether they work as writers or web designers, most freelancers have to juggle several projects at once. They might spend one day writing an article about urban planning and the next finishing up a blog about pet parakeets. Most freelancers actually enjoy the wide range of subjects they encounter on a regular basis, since it lets them learn something new all the time. But there are still deadlines that must be met, even for a temporary employee. And if they are missed, a boss often has the right to refuse payment and cancel the project on the spot.

Stress and other killers

Because they often set their own schedules and can accept or reject any assignment, traditional workers often assume freelancers lead a relatively carefree existence…but nothing could be further from the truth! The average freelancer has to prove himself to each new boss on each assignment. He is not permitted to skate by based on friendship or seniority, since odds are he’s never met his employer. Freelancing is, quite possibly, the purest form of meritocratic work, since the work and nothing but the work is considered.

Relaxation techniques

There’s a reason why traditional workers are granted vacation, sick, maternity, and leave time. Employees need regular breaks to help them recharge their batteries or they’ll quickly burn out as stress gets the better of them. But the freelancer is his own boss and can work every single day of the year if he like. It is for this reason that freelancers often have a short shelf life. That said, if you’d like to be a freelancer for life, you must learn to behave more like a regular worker and less like a free agent. With that in mind, let us discuss a few simple ways freelancers can minimize, even eliminate stress.

Don’t overcomit

Inexperienced freelancers often take on more projects than they can handle because they worry about procuring work in the future. But the more experienced you become, the more carefully you must guard your time. Learning how to manage your working life is the single most important skill any freelancer can master.

Work on more small tasks than huge projects

Once again, freelancers are wont to accept enormous projects that tie them up for weeks at a time because they worry about going without work. But take our word for it, if you are a talented, committed professional, you will never spend much time searching for new assignments. A good freelance writer can always find work if he simply knows where to look and budgets his time accordingly.

Take frequent breaks

Just as you teachers told you in school, you should take 15 to 20 minutes off for each hour of study time. No matter what they work on, all freelancers are essentially completing homework for pay. But because they are being paid, many try to press on through and work for hours on end with a single break. This is almost always a mistake. Not only will this send your stress level soaring, but it will also hurt the quality of your work.

Exercise regularly

Because they often lead sedentary lifestyles, most freelancers put on weight quite easily. This often makes them feel complacent, lethargic, even depressed. So, instead of simply sitting at your desk on your 20-minute break, grab some fresh air outside and get the blood pumping.

Drink a lot of water

Numerous studies have shown that increased H20 intake not only curbs your appetite, which can obviously help you lose unwanted weight, it may also give you energy, especially in those lazy, mid-afternoon hours.


Photo credit: Ed Yourdon via fotopedia cc

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About GregDillon

Greg is the founder of strategy consultancy GD | Inspires and spends his days strategising for various design agencies and clients around the world - see more at He is also a prolific entrepreneur having launched - a website aimed at giving advice and insight to new, existing and veteran freelancers as well as commenting on all things strategic. Feel free to email him at: or follow on Twitter @StratTalking

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