Staying Focused with Freelancing When You’re Burnt Out

You’re spending so much time in front of your laptop, but nothing is getting done. You’re starting to feel restless, distracting yourself with anything else but the work that needs to be done. You’re feeling anxious with the upcoming deadlines. You’re unhappy. You’re burnt out.

When I started building Filled With Gold, I was excited about launching a blog about something that I was passionate about: productivity, so naturally, the process would be productive, right?

I have a tendency to be a workaholic. I get out of bed at 4am to work on my website, devote several hours, after that, to work on my clients’ tasks, and then sometimes I will put in hours on the weekends. I have the discipline to work, but I don’t always know when to stop.

Working more can sometimes lead to lesser quality output because I don’t give myself a chance to recharge. Then suddenly, I’m burnt out…

I wanted to write this blog post after migrating over to Wordpress at the same time one of my clients had a major launch in her business. My plate was overspilling, but I was determined to stay focused with minimal burn out.

Saying “No.”

On top of major work transitions and client work, I was offered several opportunities to collaborate, join podcasts, do interviews- lots of things that would have benefited my blog and visibility, but I also knew in my heart that I wouldn’t be able to fit them into my tight schedule. I needed to focus on migrating my website well, on the first try, and make sure I had plenty of elbow room to assist my clients in case an emergency came up.

Saying no can be difficult, especially if it’s something you’ve been working towards for a while, but when you’re burnt out, you have nothing more to give. Your mind and body has depleted all of its energy. You can always give a later date and if they really want to work with you, they will wait.

Saying no when you are burnt out is saying no to giving someone else empty work. You are saying yes to always giving quality collaborations and effort.

Get plenty of rest

As a virtual assistant, sometimes I have to remind myself that I am not a robot. I can automate so many tasks and make things happen quickly, but I am still a human being that needs food, water, sleep, and rest.

You probably rest differently than I do. It’s important to figure out what makes your body recharge.

For me, I don’t like taking afternoon naps because it messes up my evening sleep cycle. Instead, I will lay in my bed, put something on TV, and watch for the next 2-3 hours. My cell phone is set to Do Not Disturb and I put it out of reach. I know that if I have my phone in my hands, I will be tempted to scroll through social media or check in on Slack to see if I have anything to do. If I can’t stop myself from working, I will put my phone away completely so I can focus on resting.

Rest needs to be intentional. While work and play are intersectional for freelancers, there needs to be a solid off switch that we can hit.

Are you drinking enough water?

I admit that I don’t always eat and drink purposefully. I drink whatever is in my cup and if it’s delicious, I will pour myself another. My brain is so focused at the work I am doing that I don’t think about what I am fueling my body with.

Freelancers are notorious for running on coffee and red bull, but when was the last time you had a glass of water? Have you eaten something other than take out? When you eat greatly affects productivity so if you are eating heavy foods, your body is spending a lot of energy digesting it and making you feel sluggish.

Take a moment to step away from your laptop, drink a glass of water, and eat well.

Automating what you can

Tedious, repetitive tasks can be a huge contributor to burning out. I know for me, I don’t like scheduling appointments through e-mail or the telephone. I love self-scheduling because it’s quick and require less effort (no small talk, no back and forth, just to the point and done.)

What are tedious, repetitive parts of your business? Can you automate that process?

Here’s some of the ways I automate parts of my business:

  • Scheduling calls - I use AcuityScheduling so clients and peers can self-book calls with me
  • Contracts, invoices, bookkeeping - I use And Co which generates contracts and invoices for me (including recurring invoices). This also has a mobile app so I can get small tasks done on the go, if needed!
  • Social media marketing - I load my content into SmarterQueue which will loop my posts for me. After it’s been posted, I can set it so it will continuously keep posting my material and I don’t have to constantly retype in my tweets.
  • I outsource what I don’t have time for. I have a Google Drive folder filled with blog posts that are ready to be uploaded to my blog, but I don’t have time to upload, format, schedule, and add them all to my social media scheduler. I delegate the bulk of the technical aspect so I can focus on creating and on my clients.

What are parts of your business that you can automate? Automation helps remove tasks from your to-do list and saves you time.

Seek community and ask for help

Freelancing can be lonely because we’re trying to figure out everything ourselves. Sometimes, when our own brainpower is depleted, we need to ask one of our peers if we can borrow their brain power for a little bit. For me, I have a mastermind group that I can turn to. Prior to finding that mastermind group, I joined freelance-friendly Facebook groups where I could ask my questions. Reddit is also another lovely forum where I asked for the help of others.

Depending on where you live, you may also have local freelancing meet-ups where you can hang out with other entrepreneurs for a while. Sometimes being in the presence of someone else that understands is helpful to recharging your energy.

The key to staying focused when you’re burnt out is making sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Take the time to recharge, refuel, and rest.

How can you tell when you’re starting to feel burnt out?

Let me know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase through me, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I have to 110% love the service or product before it ends up on this website.