How to Overcome Freelancing Stress

There’s no doubt about it. Freelancing can be stressful.

If you’re busy, then there are deadlines and demanding clients to deal with. If you’re not busy, then there could be financial worries and the stress of finding your next paying project.

Add the administration tasks of your business to all of that, and you can see why most freelancers face a good deal of stress. Of course, most freelancers have a personal life too and sometimes that can be a source of even more additional stress.

While some freelancing stress is probably inevitable, fortunately there are some steps that you can take in your freelancing business to reduce the amount of freelancing stress that you must face.

Seven Tips for Reducing Your Freelancing Stress

If you’re feeling a bit stressed, you’re not alone. Most freelancers eventually do have to deal with some type of stress.

For me, the key to reducing stress has been to deal with the source of that stress as much as possible. Preventative actions are so much more effective than waiting until the stress hits. If you can identify and reduce the various things that usually cause your stress (your stressors), you should be able to significantly reduce your overall freelancing stress.

Here are some stressors that typically lead to freelancing stress and how to deal with each one:

  1. Stressor: Deadlines. Too many deadlines too close together too often can definitely cause stress. For most freelancers, some deadlines are inevitable. The client needs to know when to expect your work. However, you do have some control over deadlines. Use negotiation to avoid scheduling project deadlines too close together. If possible, allow extra time in the project schedule.
  2. Stressor: Tight finances. Freelancers often face tight finances, especially when they are starting out. This can be a huge source of stress. To minimize financial surprises, use a budget to keep an accurate record of your expected and actual expenses. Make an effort to save money whenever possible.
  3. Stressor: Not finding enough clients. Every freelancer faces slow periods. When a slowdown comes, it’s hard not to worry about whether or not this slow period is going to be permanent. You can reduce the number of slow times that you face by continuously marketing your freelance business, even when you are busy.
  4. Stressor: Interruptions. We’ve all had it happen–you’re focused on your project and at a crucial point in the work and suddenly the phone rings destroying your concentration completely. Or, the dog barks. Or, one of the kids starts screaming. These interruptions can definitely cause stress, but there are techniques to help you deal with them. Shutting the door, or going to a different location (Internet cafe, library) can sometimes help too.
  5. Stressor: Client conflict. You’ve turned in your very best work, and you know it’s good. But, somehow the client doesn’t seem to agree. Dealing with difficult people is just one of the harsh realities of freelancing (and of life). You can protect yourself somewhat by carefully defining the scope and by making the client sign a contract. In some cases, you may need to stop working with a particularly unpleasant client, but most client difficulties can be worked out with patience and better communication.
  6. Stressor: Undone administrative tasks. Your administrative work is piling up. Just thinking about all of those unsent invoices, that stack of bills, and that handful of collection calls is nearly enough to suck all of the air out of the room. But, those tasks must be done. If you’re falling behind on administration, better organization could help. Or, you may want to consider outsourcing some of your routine tasks.
  7. Stressor: Sickness. It’s no fun getting sick and it’s not much good for your freelancing business either. The seeds of the sickness usually started long before your first symptom, though. Many freelancers are on the verge of burnout and don’t realize it. Make an effort to take good care of your health and make sure that you get enough rest to reduce your chances of getting sick.

You may not be able to totally eliminate freelancing stress from your life, but these tips should help you to reduce it.

The Problem with Stress

In my experience, stress is more than uncomfortable. Some people claim that they work better under stress, but I’ve found that stress slows me down and makes me less efficient. If I’m stressed, it takes me more time to complete a task than it does when I’m relaxed.

That’s why I plan carefully to minimize the amount of stress that I face on a regular basis. I use the steps above whenever possible to control my stressors. Of course, I can’t completely eliminate stress, but I can keep it at a manageable level.

What About You?

What freelancing stresses do you face and how do you deal with them?

Leave your answer in the comments.

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