According to the Australian Psychological Society, the majority of Australians feel that stress impacts their physical health (72%) and mental health (64%) but very few reported seeking any kind of professional help. Now, you are probably thinking (or could be thinking) “I am a freelancer, this stat does not apply to remote freelance stress.” Oh, however it does!
One of the reasons that many 9-to-5 workers become work at home freelancers is to escape the stress of the office. From dealing with workplace interruptions to managing in-office politics (and everything in between), workplace stress has left a bad taste in our mouth.
Well, it is impossible to escape every stress-causing factor, however you did not leave your job to be as stressed as you were at the office. You are your boss, and with that comes new situations that can create tension. For you to be successful (while staying mentally and physically healthy), it is crucial you learn how to manage stress. Unlike the office, you can control the stressors and how they impact you. Read on for six tips for managing remote freelance stress.
Set “Worry Times”
How many times has this happened to you? You are completing work for a client, updating your portfolio, checking emails, or taking a break and an urgent thought enters your brain. It takes you off your game and makes you feel as if you will never complete your to-do list.
Do not stop what you are doing and break your concentration, set a reminder on your phone to deal with this worry or upcoming event later when it is convenient for you. This way, you can feel confident knowing you have set aside time to handle the issue.
Know Your Limitations
What makes you anxious? What drives you to stress? It may take a minute to think about what the cause of the stress actually is. Can you tackle a project a little earlier to prevent having to rush when you are closer to the deadline? Do you work better at night than you do in the morning?
The money might be excellent, however can you stand to cut a bit of your project load? Assess what is causing you to feel overwhelmed and do not feel wrong about dealing with it. Your mental and physical health is at stake.
This may seem like a give-in, however so many of us are guilty of not taking the proper amount of time to rest our bodies.
Research has shown that people would be happier if they slept an extra 60 to 90 minutes a night. If this is not possible, include a 30-minute power nap in your work routine. You are not a machine, so do not run your mind as if it is one. You need to recharge, so make sleep a priority in your day.
Be Clear With Your Client Expectations From Day One
Much of the confusion and stress that occurs between freelancers and their clients is a breakdown in communication and a lack of clarification from the beginning. When you are first speaking with clients these are topics you need to discuss in the beginning:
- When you are available for immediate communications
- When you sign-off for the day
- Payment/invoicing timelines and expectations
- The preference for communications (email, video conferencing, phone calls)
- How much work you can take on for the week/month
- Vacations/times of inactivity
- How much notice you need to complete a project within a specified time
The more upfront you are about these subjects, the less chance there is for stress regarding miscommunications.
Have a Sign-Off Time and Stick To It
Everyone has a moment when he or she gets a second wind at night and decide to have a go at that project. However, this should not become a habit. Your mind and body need a break. Remember, you left the office to have better control over your schedule. Take advantage of this.
Set up a time where you turn your email notifications off, and shut down your laptop for the day. You will thank yourself the next day when you can function and think clearly.
Evaluate Your Tasks
Is everything on your plate today urgent? It is in your best interest to become better at evaluating what needs to happen and when. Can you wait on that project because you know you can knock it out faster than another? How quickly do you need to answer that email?
Categorise your to-do list by level of urgency. What needs to be done within the hour? What can wait until the latter part of the day, and what is not a priority until tomorrow or later in the week? Make your life easier by only tackling what you need to in the current moment.
Always remember why you became a remote freelancer. You wanted flexibility, freedom, and the chance to explore your own creativity. Don’t let remote freelance stress ruin this and make you feel as if you should have just stayed in the office. You now have something precious: control over your schedule. Build it in a way so that you diminish stress in your work life.