Every once in a while I fall into a trap of overwork. Have you ever been there? If you are a freelancer, chances are you have. Heck, chances are, if you do more than sit on your butt all day you have. It starts with a fear. Fear of having no clients. Fear of having no money. Fear of having an unhappy family. It is followed by an intense frenzy of too much work. Trying to turn around jobs as fast as possible. Trying to win new clients. Trying to keep a spotless house. Trying to take your kid to every event they want to go to.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
I’ve just come out of this cycle of fear and frenzy, and here are the five things I have learned this time around.
When you split yourself in too many ways, you can’t do well for anyone.
I know, it seems obvious, but it’s hard to see the light when you think or feel like you are getting a lot done or being there for everyone. What it boils down to is this. Give everyone their chance. As far as family goes, set aside that time to be together as a unit, and don’t give in to the temptation of “just five more minutes” or, “after this weekend, no more work on the weekends” or, “I guess I can squeeze in one more activity a week.” As far as your clients are concerned, create a waiting list. If potential clients want you, they will wait. If they know they will get your full attention when it is their turn, it will be worth it for them.
Once you start overworking yourself, it’s hard to stop.
Don’t let the fear take hold! We all know how hard it is to break out of any cycle.
All the things you thought you would do “soon” never get done. Remember roller derby?
I think that says it all.
It’s easy to abuse yourself when you are overworked.
This is both physical and emotional. The stress and letting yourself feel uncertainty and fear does a number on your confidence. This, combined with lack of sleep, at least for me, leads to poor choices. I don’t get a chance to take care of me, and I compensate the grossness I feel with indulging in wine and food. And then I feel more gross. And here we have another trap that is hard to escape.
Everyone around you thinks you are an asshole. Because you are.
All of the above lead to this one simple fact. When we are overworked we are stressed, tired, and unhealthy. We are short, snappy, and maybe a little sarcastic. We have short tempers. How many of us are actually being their best for themselves and everyone around them when they are feeling this way? Obviously, we aren’t. And people see this, and they think we are jerks.
I’m glad to have had a chance to catch up on my work, both for my clients and for my bank account, but it has been difficult for everyone. Now I am hoping to be in a much better groove, and able to take better care of myself and those around me. I’m ready to write more, and greet the joyous season ahead with calm and pleasure.