Being a freelancer definitely has its ups and downs. Unless you have recurring projects that provide a certain stability, you will go through quiet periods, when you wonder if you will ever work again, and crazy periods when work is coming at you from all directions.
What I’ve learned:
During quiet periods, first take the time to fully rest and recharge. Don’t feel guilty about this! You’ve earned it. After a few days, start thinking about the things you would like to do, the things you’ve been putting off. It’s the perfect time to do some accounting, organization, maybe market your business if you want to add new clients. Work on a side project if you have one. Try not to get too worried if the quiet period starts to drag on. This is easier if you set aside funds to carry you through.
During busy periods, make time for the things you enjoy. It’s the little things that make life worth living. When you’re only focused on work, you deprive yourself in other areas. You don’t take the time to linger over breakfast, or take a walk or meet with a friend for coffee. Make the time. I’ve said that in earlier posts, but it’s not always easy. Make your own health and mental wellbeing a priority. Don’t get burned out.
When the busy period ends, celebrate! I cannot begin to describe the immense joy and sense of accomplishment that wells up when I send off that big project or finish all the projects I had on hand. How liberating it feels not to have something waiting. Non-freelancers sometimes can’t understand that it’s not as easy to leave work behind when your office is in your home and the projects are always beckoning. It takes discipline to get up and work every day when you’re your own boss, but sometimes it takes more discipline to let work be on the weekend when you could be getting ahead.
Freelancers like to complain about these ups and downs, the all-or-nothing, but it’s a great life. You set your own schedule. You can work in pyjamas if you want to. You can have absolute quiet if you need to concentrate. You can do laundry between projects. You don’t have a commute. And the list goes on. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.