“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”—Aristotle
The same can be said of sanity. Here’s how successful freelancers develop the habit: (What, did you think sanity just popped out of the snow like daisies?)
1. Schedule Time to Play
When your schedule is your own, it’s easy to veer between wasting time with social media or games or working nonstop all hours of the day. Both are side effects of working without boundaries. Successful freelancers schedule fun or unplugged time into their calendar, making their work time more productive and their play time more deliberate.
Suiting up and showing up might seem unnecessary when you don’t have to wear a suit or report to an office. But making in-person connections isn’t just necessary for traditional 9-5 business. Showing up to events and scheduling meetings in person can clear up misunderstandings, reduce stress, and even create friendships.
Presence is powerful. So take a load off, unplug, and interact -- connection gives a sense of purpose, and purpose is tantamount to sanity.
3. Have a Dedicated Office Space
Whether it’s your car, the nook beside the kitchen, a desk in the front room, or just your favorite cafe -- designate a work space. Work in it. And then leave work there when you’re done.
Putting yourself in a specific workspace reaps wonders in sanity and serenity. (Not to mention, if you have a dedicated office space in your home, you can write it off on your taxes.)
4. Meditate -- and Reflect on the Day
Meditate in the morning. Rushing to meet a deadline? Twenty minutes never killed any freelancer’s productivity. Racing thoughts? There’s plenty of time for them later. Pay attention to the rhythm of your breathing or watch the snow fall outside. Let yourself be. That unpressured down time isn’t just sanity time. It may make the difference between burnout and peace for the rest of your day.
Write up short-term, long-term, and daily goals. Put a big P on those that have priority. Sanity comes from perspective, so don’t sweat the small things. At the end of the day, reflect on accomplishments and gauge what needs to go on the list tomorrow.
Laughter is key to sanity. Find four or five things during the day that strike your funny-bone. Maybe it’s the walrus-mustache on the business owner you’re helping with branding and social media. Maybe someone’s ringtone was Darth Vader’s stentorian breathing, and it rang just as your least favorite client’s email pinged in your inbox.
Laugh it up, or your priorities are upside down.
Sanity comes first. Make time for it. If excellence is a habit, so is balance.
CJ writes, travels, & recovers wonder on a regular basis. With Get It Writ, she teaches small businesses branding & concrete community engagement. When she isn't teaching the ropes of social media storytelling to clients, she fences or teaches herself something new. Right now, it's Welsh & coding.