Skip to main content

Tackling Freelance Burnout and Finding Balance

Animation by Alexandra Kostyuk, Dynamic working video stills
  • Written byCareers and Employability
  • Published date 06 June 2023
Animation by Alexandra Kostyuk, Dynamic working video stills
Animation by Alexandra Kostyuk, Dynamic working video stills

Freelance burnout is a type of physical and mental exhaustion caused by extended stress and a lack of work-life balance and can cause trouble sleeping, headaches, anxiety, task paralysis and decision fatigue. It’s no surprise that people who are freelance and manage their own business are susceptible to burnout, but how do you avoid and combat burnout when you’re self-employed or can’t stop working?

Keep reading to find strategies aimed at helping freelancers and self-employed people reduce stress levels, create intuitive self-management habits, increase self-compassion and overall support your career wellbeing.

  1. Decide how many clients/projects to work on  

    Avoid taking on too many projects or clients at the same time, you can utilise a project planner to map out your availability each month and what clients you will be working with, this will help you to avoid overloading your month with too much work.

  2. Choose your clients carefully 

    Allow yourself to create a mix of consistent clients and ad-hoc work to give yourself flexibility for working on new exciting projects, promote yourself and bring in new clients. Do not accept every client, you can say no if you already have enough on or negotiate a postponed start time or share these opportunities with others in your network.

  1. Experiment with time management techniques 

    Test out different strategies, like the pomodoro technique, task batching or one hour stress plan, to find ways to reduce your task list and increase productivity while you are working and allow yourself more breaks and time to rest.

  2. Create boundaries and be mindful of work life balance 

    If you find your work creeping into your personal time, like checking emails when you should be spending time with your friends, family or partner, consider setting stricter working hours, you can add them to your email signature so people know when you will and won’t be available.

  1. Include self-care in your daily task lists  

    To help you reduce your stress levels, increase compassion and incorporate more moments for mindful rest in your daily work life.

  1. Take quality time off

Remember to book days off, a lot of freelancers forget to do this or only take weekends and time off for special occasions and spend holidays still doing some work. We all need rest, and it’s important to prioritise taking time off from work especially if it’s causing you stress, even if you love what you do. Make sure you are including some sick pay and holiday allowance into your rates to reduce any anxiety around taking time off.

Prioritising your needs is productive, by reducing your stress levels your quality of work will increase and you will manage your time more effectively.

Looking for more advice on managing a freelance career? Join us for Freelance Week 2023 on the week of the 12th – 16th of June. Book tickets for sessions now!