Whether you are a freelancer whose winter and pre Christmas time is heavily booked and you struggle with all the jobs you have taken on or whether winter is your quiet season and you’re slowly going insane, trying to make the ends meet and get through the season without losing the love and passion for what you do, it’s undoubtedly true that winter is somewhat of a blues season, one that makes you wish things were easier and you had a guaranteed monthyl wage job. This season may shake you to the core and make you reconsider where you’re going and where you want to be in the next year, and it might make you want to retreat in the comfort of your own cozy bed and not step outside of it.
Whatever your profession, how do we freelancers can deal with the winter blues and come out stronger than ever? How can we not lose our mind when we see others having Christmas parties at their offices or any time with family, partner or friends at all?
I will be the first one to admit that winter, especially in the run up to Christmas, is an odd season for me. Work fluctuates so much that you begin to lose any festive spirit you may have had, and you’re stuck brainstorming about your next projects, dealing with all the blank spaces in your calendar or perhaps trying to squeeze in any time for yourself if your calendar is filled all the way up to Christmas and New Year.
1.Not enough work
Days turning dark early can have an impact on your wellbeing, it’s natural. Combine that with an empty calendar, bills to pay and you’ve got a formula for a downhill spiral.
So what do you do? Self loathing and comparing yourself to others will get you nowhere. Getting angry will simply add weight to your already stressed body and mind. Crying, getting the concern and frustrations out there will work better. Don’t be embarassed if it all gets too much for you to handle and tears start rolling down your face, we’ve all been there and if anything, getting those emotions out will help you compose yourself, see things clearer and get rid of negativity that you’ve kept inside. Talking to someone who’s good at listening will have the same effect. You simply need to get these emotions out without anyone being judgemental and trying to run your life for you.
So, once you have confided in someone about your fears and concerns, what’s next?
Sometimes, regardless of how much we may try, it simply is not the right time to obtain new jobs, bookings or projects. Instead direct your focus on creating a plan for the next year, with your goals and ambitions, with things you want to try or places you want to go to. Sometimes you just have no control over certain things in your life, so changing your focus onto something positive will let you deal with the empty and quiet period better.
Don’t forget that this time is ideal for you to look at yourself: do you ensure you have enough time for things that bring joy in your life? Do you leave time for exercising your body and mind? Don’t let your life slip by and lose yourself in chasing things that are simply not going to happen because it’s not the right time for them. Focus on today and tomorrow. I find that exercise and writing helps me lose myself ‘in the moment’, forget about all my worries and just spend a quality time with myself. This time is just as important as answering emails, coldcalling clients or delivering deadlines. You yourself are a equally as important to look after as are your clients.
2. Too much work
So, perhaps winter time is your busy period and you are struggling to meet deadlines and deliver finished jobs, and your calendar is fully booked up with not a single day off for yourself. It’s just as easy and underestandable for you to break down when things get too busy and you see no way of getting through this season without headaches, sleepless nights, missed festive activities with your family and friends, and certainly no time to spend relaxing all by yourself.
Use this time as a learning curve and consider your pricing for the next year to come. Why take on all these clients and overwork yourself when you could adjust your prices to attract the right clients who will pay the price for your work, and have fewer jobs / bookings / projects a month?
Or perhaps you’re completely happy with your prices and they reflect your hard work, so why not think about taking on an assistant, whether a permanent one in-house or a freelancer that you could build a good working relationship with and hire for the small tasks, while you focus on the greater things in your business?
You may think “why should I pay someone when I can do it myself?”. Yes, that’s right but why should you create yourself a workload that you can barely handle and end up stressed? There are smaller tasks that you can outsource for someone to do while you build your business up step by step. Whether it is dealing with admin, or perhaps editing if you’re a photographer or a videographer, or social media and marketing – sometimes we just don’t want to admit that we’re too proud to outsource and think we can do everything better, when in reality there are jobs that you could easily give to a freelancer.
The workflow will speed up, you’ll be able to get more clients and see them go happy as they receive your finished products, especially if they do not have to wait excessively long (as they might do if you take on too many jobs to handle by yourself), and you will find time on your hands that you can invest in building your brand. Also, don’t forget that you do not necessarily have to fill your diary only with things that bring money. Use some of the time on treating yourself, whether it is daily walk to a coffee shop, an exercise class, dinner with friends or simply an extra evening with your dearest ones. Your body and mind will thank you, and so will your closest ones who get to spend extra time with you in this festive season.
3. No inspiration or motivation
I sometimes get those days where you just want to disappear, preferably under your bed cover, or for everyone to leave you alone while I try to figure out what am I even doing. It comes like an apathetic feeling that surrounds you all over and you end up drowning in something dark, fuzzy and cold. There will be times when your motivation and focus wanders of its original path, and you will be left wondering “what’s the point” or “I won’t get anywhere”. I find that in winter time this happens a lot more to me. Grey rainy days (thanks, England!) with sun light disappearing earlier than ever is not the most motivating and inspiring time, and it certainly doesn’t make me want to grab my camera, run out and create art. All it does is makes me want to sit home at my desk with a hot cup of coffee and try to make sense of my business and all the projects.
The hardest part is to get over it, to put those clothes on, do your bed and start working. The hardest part is bracing it and heading out when the outside world seems so uninviting and cold.
But the good thing is once you do make yourself get out and make the effort, you will feel so much better. Think of it as going to gym. Some people struggle to get themselves together and head out to their gym, but once they get there and start exercising, it feels great. Even when finished, that happy after-feeling still lingers and increases your positivity and focus.
When you have to-do list as the first and last thing you see every day, it can become overwhelming thinking about all the things you have set yourself to do and it’s ever so easy to lose focus on try to escape it by distracting yourself or simply hiding away.
Set yourself realistic daily and weekly goals. If it’s a bigger project, consider how long it may take you to finish it and split it up in daily chunks that you can fulfill. Unrealistic goals will set you back and get you down simply because you’ll always feel like an underachiever. Don’t punish yourself with targets that cannot be met, and instead organise your week effectively by prioritising your tasks and dividing them up in pieces that can be completed daily.
When you complete your tasks don’t forget to take a great deal of pride in ticking them off because you totally deserve it (even better if it’s Wunderlist app and you get to hear the ‘ding’ noise as you complete each task).
So, when you get down, what do you do to pick yourself up?