Digital Mums 5 tips to help you look after your mental health as a freelancer

5 tips to help you look after your mental health as a freelancer

Whether it’s bidding farewell to the sweaty rush-hour commute or never having to make a round of tea for your colleagues again - the benefits of freelancing on your emotional wellbeing are many. But how do you overcome some of the challenges that ditching the ‘9 to 5’ can bring? We asked our amazing Digital Mums community for their top tips.

Social isolation

If you’ve gone from the buzz of a busy office to freelancing, it can be a shock to suddenly find yourself alone with only the cat for company.

Even if you class yourself as an introvert, it can be easy to underestimate how much self-esteem and self-worth is tied up in working in a team and getting positive feedback.

Isolation can creep up on you, so be proactive, take preventative measures and find a local support network. Even if it’s just one day a week, put a regular date in the diary to meet up with other freelancers or choose a day a week to work from each other’s homes.

If you live in a more remote area and can’t meet up IRL, then do the next best thing and join a Facebook group or schedule a Google hangout.

Switching off

You may have given up the clockwatching, but it can sometimes feel like you can never switch off. And if you’re a parent, you may feel like you are on 24/7.

As a freelancer, you are the engine of your business, so make time to look after yourself.

If your thing was decompressing with a podcast on your drive home, then modify it. Put the laptop down, put your phone in another room and take half an hour at the end of your day to listen to it - just don’t do it at your desk!

Think about turning off your notifications on your laptop and phone if you’re easily distracted.

This can be difficult for social media managers, so instead you could use an app to remind yourself to take regular breaks.

Increased workload

Tax returns, chasing invoices, negotiating rates…. There’s no getting away from the fact that there’s a huge amount of unpaid work attached to being a freelancer.

And then there’s the familiar guilt-trip by partners and family members to go and pick up that dry-cleaning or run to the shops because you’re “working from home”.

If more of the household chores fall to you because your partner works longer hours, then compromise and be strict about what you say yes to. Try and factor them into drop-offs and pick-ups so they don’t encroach too much into your working day.

Be strict with the time you’re available to clients and include your working hours in your email signature. If you are doing a couple of emails in the evening, schedule them to go out the next morning.

Make the most of excellent time-saving tools like Buffer, which allow you to sit down for an hour a week and schedule thought leadership content to go out on all your platforms.

QuickBooks and Receipt Bank will make managing your tax and accounts a doddle. To ensure you’re billing hours correctly, use Chrometa which runs from your desktop and captures everything you’re doing.

Think about hiring a remote virtual assistant if you’re on a good day rate. You might think it’s a luxury but it frees up your time to pitch to new clients or work on your brand.

Structuring Your Day

With no boss breathing down your neck, it can be tempting to procrastinate, have a Netflix binge and focus on anything other than that looming deadline. If this sounds familiar then you have to build structure into your day.

Shower, get dressed and stick to a routine as if you were going to the office. If you’re all too easily distracted, work alongside a more focused friend who can be strict about breaks and chatting.

I have a Trello board with all of my tasks on and what I’m going to do on that day so I know what I need to achieve. If you are being blocked with a task, because you are waiting for a client to get back to you, you can put it in a different list, so it doesn't feel like it’s still on your to do list which makes you feel much less stressed.

Kathryn Tyler, Digital Mums Co-Founder

Having no sick pay, or a regular wage slip, to fall back on can keep you up all night so invest in freelancer insurance.

Don’t be shy about what you’re worth and negotiate good day rates - be transparent that the fee includes emotional wellbeing, holidays and sick pay. If they don’t understand, do you really want them as a client?

Work out how much you need to bring in and keep a pipeline of prospective clients. We talk about ‘Doing the Hustle’ at Digital Mums for a good reason - the more hustling, the less stressed and more successful you will be as a freelancer.

You can listen to some more of the challenges that freelancers face and how to overcome them by downloading the Digital Mums podcast here.

And if you're interested in finding out more about our new "Becoming a Successful Freelancer" course which has launched this week, click here.

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