Whilst I’m not out in the forest exploring or taking too many photos of trees and deer, I’m in my home office creating copy for my clients, planning my next steps and keeping track of my finances. If you’re a fellow freelancer – or looking to venture down that route – you’ll understand that, as great as being your own boss can be, it definitely has its stressful moments! So, as April is Stress Awareness Month, I thought I’d talk about some tips and tools I’ve found useful to make sure my work is the best it can be. Hope it helps you too!
I’ve found that one of the most efficient ways to keep stress at bay is by planning ahead to make sure I’m hitting those deadlines whilst not overloading myself by taking on too much at once. I keep a handy notebook next to me at all times, as I have a habit of drafting out the week ahead and what I want to achieve in this timeframe. That way, I can look at each day individually and assign myself tasks that work towards completing this goal. As easy as it sounds, its really effective in keeping me motivated.
Cluttered Desk, Cluttered Mind
One thing that really seems to hinder my productivity and increase my stress levels is having an untidy desk. I confess that I do have a habit of letting mail, magazines, post it notes and mugs creep up on me, despite knowing all too well that this directly affects how I feel about my work! Keep clutter at bay to ensure nothing distracts you and instead replace it with things that inspire you. For example, I have a mesh board in my direct eye line with photos, inspiring quotes, a loom wall hanging and macrame pot hanger with a selection of air plants. I find that these reminders of my goals and what makes me happy inspires me on a daily basis.
Freelance work aside, I have to say I’ve never been the best at keeping tabs on my finances! Therefore having a go to accounting tool is a lifesaver, and one thing I’d definitely recommend for those just starting out. Online tools such as QuickBooks* offer a range of features useful for freelancers or those running small businesses, such as creating invoices on the go, quick HRMC self assessments and the option to store and separate your business and personal transactions at the swipe of a button. Lets just say I find the last feature particularly useful!
Cut the Caffeine
I know, I know. For some, grabbing a coffee on the way to work is a sacred part of a morning ritual, especially for those reluctant to leave their beloved beds in the early hours. However, as caffeine increases our levels of cortisol, one of our body’s stress hormones, it might be worth considering cutting down if you’re starting to feel the pressure and switching to decaf or tea instead.
Take Five. Or Thirty.
Whilst it’s easy to fall into the trap of working way past lunchtime to get that extra piece of work finished, neglecting your own wellbeing in the process will catch up with you. I mentioned this back in my Keeping Motivated when Working from Home blog post last year, but I feel like its worth noting again. As spring starts to make an appearance, make it a priority to grab at least 30 minutes of fresh air. Not only is this much needed screen free time important for your eyes, but it’s great for allowing the creative ideas to flow without interruption.
Do you have any tips for keeping stress at bay as a freelancer? Let me know in the comments below!
*This blog is in collaboration with Quickbooks.