Are you stuck in a rut and feeling uninspired by the prospect of another day of freelancing? Perhaps your schedule feels stale and it doesn’t work for you. Maybe you’ve been working in the same way for years, although you and the world around you have changed, presuming that this is as good as it gets.
Whichever state of mind you’re in, why not try at least one of these five ways to freshen up your freelancing life? They might just help you climb out of that rut.
Work in different places
If it’s feasible, try to change your workplace occasionally. You could try the library, a cafe, a hotel lounge, a co-working space – even a different room in your house. Obviously, if you’re a potter or a sculptor that produces huge installations, you’re limited to the places you can create your pieces, but what about the time you spend coming up with ideas and sketching designs?
Have lunch in different places
Even if it’s not possible to work elsewhere, it should be possible to vary the place you have lunch. This doesn’t necessarily mean an expensive lunch in a cafe. You can search out cheap lunch providers or grab a snack from a supermarket, or, cheaper still, take your own packed lunch to a park, nature reserve or even a bench in a scenic spot in your nearest town or city. If you can arrange to meet someone for lunch occasionally, even better.
Change your breaks
Research has proved that for a whole host of scary reasons, sitting for prolonged periods of time is bad for our health – so if, like mine, your freelance work involves a lot of time sitting in front of a computer screen, you should be getting up and moving at least once an hour.
But how about experimenting with when you have your breaks, how long they are and what you do with them? We all know our perception of time (and how relaxed or rested we feel) alters depending on what we’re doing; to me, 5 minutes spent frantically catching up on household chores feels virtuous, but far less relaxing than reading a novel for 5 minutes. Losing yourself in a fictional world can make 5 minutes feel like 15.
So I challenge you to try something different! A walk, a reading session, a tricky Sudoku, something craft related, an art club, an exercise class? The beauty of freelancing is that you dictate your schedule, so if an hour off on a Tuesday afternoon to attend the circuits class down the road suits you, go for it. You can work an extra hour (as a chunk, or in 10-minute slots here and there) to ‘make up’ the time if you feel you must.
How about changing the time of your breaks so that they coincide with times of day when you know you’re less productive?
Change your work schedule
Talking of periods when you’re less productive, it’s time to take a good look at what you achieve and when. Are you aware of the times of day, or the days of the week, when you achieve the most?
Most types of freelance work encompass a few different tasks – or you may offer several services.
If there are tasks that require you to become deeply engrossed for a long period of time, are you trying to force them into days when typically your time is broken up by several commitments?
It might be easier and less stressful to move those tasks – when you can – to days when you have longer periods of uninterrupted time.
If your best ideas arrive in the afternoon, perhaps you could try getting admin, promotion and networking tasks out of the way in the afternoon. If your brain refuses to function properly on a Monday – or a Friday – save the easier tasks for those days, and spend Tuesday to Thursday focussing on the things that require real drive and inspiration.
Change your work
I’m not suggesting that all you potters and artists should turn off your wheel for good and take up web design, or that exercise instructors should abandon their classes and try freelance writing (that would be madness – there are enough of us as it is).
However, you could try diversifying. Perhaps collaboration with a fellow freelancer could benefit both of you, both in terms of inspiration and the combined packages you could offer? If collaboration doesn’t appeal, then it may be that with a little thought (and possibly some extra study or training), you could offer a new service that complements those already in your repertoire?
Or, if you enjoy some aspects of your work more than others, what about taking action to try and get more work in this area, gradually moving away from the work you find less appealing, easy or lucrative? It’s worth considering how and where you attract your clientele, too. A change in how and where you promote yourself could see more interesting projects and clients come your way.
Despite what the saying tells us, a change may not always be quite as good as a rest – but it can certainly come close. So take the challenge! Freshen up your freelancing (and tell us how you got on. We’re nosey.)
Interested. I meant interested.