Burnout is a very real and common problem among solopreneurs. It happens for one reason: you take on too much work. Although no one who has ever suffered from burnout likes the experience, lots of freelancers and independent consultants experience it more than once. Here are two things you can do to prevent it.
How Do you Schedule Your Freelance Work?
First, take a look at your work scheduling process. On any given day, you should have an idea how full your schedule is and when you can take on new work. Doing so is much easier than it sounds.
For each of the projects on your plate, estimate how long, in hours, they will take to complete. Map these project hours onto a calendar, based on how many hours per day you have for billable project work. (Activities like checking e-mail, entering receipts, and marketing your business are not billable project work hours.)
For example, if you know you tend to work productively for, more or less, 6 hours per day, and you have projects totaling 40 hours on deck, that means you can’t begin another project for 7 work days.
Of course, you can agree to take on work before those 7 days roll around. If a terrific new client calls you with a mouth-watering rush job and you want to take it on, go for it. Just know that by doing so you’re going to be pushing yourself to your creative and even physical limits. It’s wise to schedule a day or two off for respite when the crazy stretch comes to an end.
Quality Freelance Clients Help You Work More Efficiently
Second, know that one of the best ways to prevent burnout is to be constantly increasing the quality of your client base. High quality clients are, of course, clients who pay well and send work your way regularly versus just once in a while.
By finding better-quality clients, you can work less and earn more. What’s more, over time, you can become quite knowledgeable about their business. This accumulated knowledge will cut down on the amount of time you need to spend learning the basics about the company or industry. You’ll spend less time working on projects for clients with whom you’re already oriented and up to speed, as opposed to constantly engaging and learning about new clients.
Freelancers who make it a priority to always strive to increase the quality of their clients are the ones who end up creating a work/life balance (not to mention a bank balance) that they love.
Pete Savage is co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle (Penguin/Alpha Books) and co-founder of TheWealthyFreelancer.com where freelancers can download three free chapters and a series of free reports contained in the Freelancer’s Income Expander Kit.