Burn-Out or Workplace related stress has rapidly become the reason many freelancers and non-freelancers alike fall into sickness, or even quit their job.
Burning out as a freelancer can be specially detrimental as most freelancers work by themselves or in small groups that require everyone to be working at their best in order for the business to thrive.
If you are like me; you work alone most of the time. Often sitting in front of your computer, laptop or drawing table. This can result in several issues that will ultimately cause burn-out. Things like back-pain, workplace loneliness and work overload can quickly put you on the burn-out track.
In this blogpost I will attempt to advice you on several ways you too can start decreasing the likelihood of burning yourself out as you work those long hours alone in your studio. I am by no means an expert and I still do get burned out, however by applying the following advice I have been able to decrease the times I do get burn-out and the overall stress that running a full-time freelancing art services business can bring.
Stretching your way to a healthier tomorrow
Back-pain is literally the worse! It seems like no matter what we do we are bound to our chairs suffering away while our backs get slowly more and more damaged. This however can be improved several ways.
The first bit of knowledge I started applying in my life, was stretching. I do it less often that I’d like to admit, but even stretching in the morning right after waking up gives me a huge relief from years of messing up my back at a computer.
A quick 5-10 minute stretching routine before you go to sleep, and after you wake up can do wonders for your overall elasticity and will help relieve some of the ache your body feels when you sit down to work. Ideally you’d want to be shooting for at least 3-5 stretches every day. With the longest sessions being at the beginning, middle and end of your day.
A great bit of advice we will be talking about later is the Pomodoro Plus technique, but essentially this time management technique allows you to take breaks every 25-2hr session, giving you the perfect time for a stretch session.
If you want to take your stretching to the next level, try out a 15-20min full body yoga session.
Work in Comfort
Physical pain can really throw a wrench in your productivity. That is why it is very important to always pick the right chair and desk for your office. You will be standing or sitting on them for the majority of your working life, so do not just buy the first option. Really take the time to find what you like, fits within your budget and most importantly works for you.
A good comfortable chair will do delights for your back, and while you’re add it. Get yourself an extra comfy foot rest pillow, so your back and your feet can both feel like you’re at a spa while you’re working.
Solo-preneur does not mean you have to be alone all the time
I know what you’re thinking. “I work on a studio in my house, there’s no one there but my self, how can I maintain focus and still have other people in on my freelancing journey?”
The answer might be much simpler than you think.
Remember back in the day when we had forums? Well whilst there are still hundreds in not thousands of forums still around, there is actually a much better way to engage with people in your field, all without having to sign-up to ten different forums, and that option is Discord.
Discord is an online chatting service and app, that works very much like a forum. But instead of having to sign-up for each individual forum, all you have to do is create a Discord account, and start joining some servers.
Ever since I found discord, my life as a freelancing solo-prenuer has become tons more fun. I am able to share my work with people and getting almost immediate feedback. I am also able to bounce off ideas with individuals that I meet online, using Discords private messaging system. Not to mention that at any moment I am literally at a couple of taps away from all sorts of fascinating individuals doing something very similar to what I do.
So if you’re an artist or creative freelancer. I definitely suggest you try out discord.To get you started, you can go ahead and join our MabsArts Discord Chat.
Pomodoro Plus… a new way of thinking
You probably already know what the Pomodoro technique is, if not here’s a quick Google definition for you.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
Cirillo has it right! You should never work for super long hours without break. You’re gonna mess up your eyes, your back, and you will realize quickly that 8hrs of work can feel like torture every day of the week holed up in your studio.
However, 25minutes for me is just not enough time to get anything done. I need at the very minimum a full hour to get any amount of significant work done. That is why I have been for the past couple of years been using something I like to call “Pomodoro Plus”
At first you want to start with the classic Pomodoro Technique, see how much you can get done in 25mins, and see how many sessions you can do in a given day. Once you have a good average number say something like 8-10 a day. Try increasing the amount of time per work session by 5-10 mins, and the rest amount by half that time. Every day try increasing it a little more. If you feel like you are falling behind or the current amount is too much, go back down a couple of minutes. Keep doing this for as long as you can, until you find the perfect zone for you. For me, the best ratio is 2hrs and 1hr rest. Whenever I fall behind, I go 1hr work, 30mins rest. This technique of splitting up the time not only gives me the breaks I was mentioning earlier to stretch, exercise and catch up with my friends on Discord, but it also allows for a natural segmentation of the work-day which helps me balance any amount of projects I can find. One session I will be working on my freelancing client work, and after that session I can be working on my animations. Always knowing that for whatever amount my clock is set to I will be 100% focused on the task at hand. This technique is also wonderful if you find yourself spending too much time on things like social media or tv.
Having specifically designed time slots throughout your day will help your brain get in the rhythm, and when your brain gets in a rhythm you enter a flow state where stress and burn-out are no longer welcome.
That will be all for this blogpost, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you have any other tips you’d like to share in regards to how you avoid or handle burn-out post it down in the comments section and I will do my best to reply to you.
Have a wonderful day, and implement some of the advice you find here, I hope it will keep you motivated and stress-free through your creative long hours.