• Advice

What to do when you hit freelancer burnout

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

You are running full speed ahead, saying "yes" to new clients and work before you can even think about it, doing the work you need to get done and then, BOOM!

It hits you, the Freelancer's Burnout, which should be a coined term at this point. It's an all-too-familiar situation we have all come to expect at certain times in our freelance career.

The work starts to pile up; the hours begin to lengthen, hobbies and free time become inexistent, and you just feel like work has completely taken over your life. The questions then become, "What did I do wrong?" and "How can I fix this?”

As freelancers, we are always hustling, so there is nothing wrong with saying yes, but there needs to be a few steps taken before taking the plunge into new work or new projects that need to be considered to avoid a potential burnout.

Below are some questions we should all consider asking ourselves:

Do you have the time to add on a new client or project?

The first question should always be, do you have the time? If you do not, then it isn't worth the added stress. Now, if you are offered a position that may be more beneficial or worthwhile than a current one, then you may want to consider shifting clients around or taking on one and unfortunately stopping work with another.

The statement is not so much a one-size-fits-all type question because every freelancer is different, but on a basic level, knowing how much time commitment you can give without sacrificing your own livelihood should always be the best first question to ask.

Whether you can or cannot tack on a new client or need to let another go is up to you, but this needs to be addressed.

To add to this, you should never feel guilty about dropping a client that is just adding stress and work to your life or having to turn down a potential client. As humans, we all tend to ask the "What if," question whenever we say no or goodbye to someone, but you need to ride it out and tell yourself that it had to end or never begin for a reason.

Do you have the mental bandwidth to add this to your plate?

Beyond just the idea of time itself is also your mental breaking point. All freelancers are different, some are high energy, and some are low energy--and that comes into play with avoiding a burn-out.

Technically, it can be argued that each person can probably handle at least 40+ hours of work a week--per our idea of "full-time" work, but that does not mean every freelancer has that type of mental capability.

Will your other work be affected by this addition?

A burnout can take a toll on your mind which can take a toll on your work. It can seem great to always be moving forward until you are no longer giving 100% to your work. Being split in too many directions means that at a certain point your work will begin to suffer.

You may be able to handle four clients normally with ease, but taking on two or three more may make it so you are only giving 50% to each client and as hard as you try to mask it, your clients will notice when your work begins to suffer.

If you feel there is a risk of this happening, it may be a good idea to re-evaluate how much you need this new client or ways to fit it into your schedule. Perhaps, you may need to let go of an existing client who does not feel like a good fit anymore to fill with a better fitting client instead.

These are just a few starter questions you need to ask yourself before taking on a new client. Other considerations such as pay versus time, length of the work contract, and what this one position may lead to are all things you must consider.

Having a burnout over a position that does not serve you well is not worth jeopardizing your other client's work or even your health over. Take care of yourself!

Chris Gillespie is a freelance writer and founder of Find A Way Media. They create killer marketing content and act as an incubator for some of the best writing talent in the country. They’re currently looking for a content marketing writer with software expertise.

Sarah DeGeorge Sarah DeGeorge is a content creator and social media marketer. When she isn't helping clients she is most likely helping the stray animal population of Philadelphia or traveling somewhere new.