Why do freelancers get burnout?
Of course, struggling with work demands is not exclusive to freelancers – there are plenty of stories of burnout across a whole range of occupations. But freelancers have a particular set of issues. To begin with, as a freelancer, you won’t have any holiday allocation or sick pay, so you’re likely to take less time off – even when you’re not feeling well. We all need time off though – that’s why there’s a mandated minimum holiday period for employees – so managing time and balancing wellbeing is often one of the things that freelancers find particularly hard.
Here, we’ve put some of the top reasons why freelancers might struggle, and how working with others can help you find a better balance.
How do you recognise burnout?
There are both physical and emotional signs that you might be trying to take on too much. Physically, you might notice that you are constantly tired and – annoyingly – also unable to sleep properly. You might be suffering from headaches or stomach complaints, which are associated with stress. You may also find that you come down with colds or other general illnesses more easily.
And the emotional signs of burnout are similar to those of stress – worry about failing, feeling isolated, thinking that you are not in control and struggling to motivate yourself.
These are all signs that many of us will recognise, and they are signs that you are doing too much and need to re-evaluate the way you are working.
Causes of burnout
There are common causes of burnout – although some people will also have individual family, caring or other issues that can contribute to stress.
Always saying ‘yes’ – it’s a common issue for freelancers who don’t want to turn work down. Even when you’re busy, you are conscious that work may dry up at any time and so you take on all the work that comes in. That can be unsustainable, so it’s important to learn to turn down work if you are too busy. If you find that difficult, you could use outsourced help desk support so that someone else is dealing with enquiries for you.
Managing emails – inboxes can be terrifying, and add to stress and lack of motivation. When you know you have work to deliver, the time it takes to do all your admin can take hours out of your work day – and you often end up compensating by working late at night or over the weekends. Instead of trying to manage this yourself, you can bring in help with email inbox management. Virtual assistant services, for example, can help you to keep on top of your inbox, freeing up a lot more time for you to focus on delivery.
Keeping on top of accounts – one of the things that freelancers realise pretty quickly is that they need to be able to manage all aspects of running a business – from marketing to finance. For many, keeping on top of the accounts takes up a lot of time and causes a lot of stress. Which is why it may be useful to outsource your bookkeeping. Virtual assistant bookkeepers can help to keep your accounts in order on an ongoing basis so that you are confident your finances are in safe hands.
Can you avoid burnout?
Apart from getting help with key tasks, you should also take some time to think about the type of work you are doing, the sort of clients you are working with and whether you are doing work you enjoy, or just work that pays the bills. You really need to get some satisfaction from your freelance work – or you might as well go back to the security of an employed role.
So now might be a good time to do an analysis of your current work and clients and see what work you enjoy and what you don’t like at all. Be bold and move on from clients who don’t fit your mould, and actively look for new work that ticks your boxes. And along the way, look for the best virtual assistant company that can help you with day-to-day tasks – because when you find a virtual assistant who can really support you, it can make all the difference.
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