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How To Reduce Stress as a Freelancer

5 ways to reduce stress as a freelancer

April is Stress Awareness Month so it seemed an apt time to reach out and chat about ways I manage to reduce the stresses I encounter as a freelancer.

I’ve said on many occasions how much I love working freelance and being my own boss: I firmly believe that my decision to leave full time employment to pursue a freelance career was, and still is one of the best decisions I ever made – but that doesn’t mean it is a stress-free option.

Working for yourself brings with it so many positives (freedom, flexibility, control, being your own boss, no commute & loads more!) but it also means absolute responsibility – you are the make or break of your business. It brings with it endless admin, accounts, marketing/PR and social media jobs to be done…instead of holding down just one role, you find yourself suddenly donning many hats, and that of course can be stressful.

Over the years I have found various ways to help reduce these stresses and strains – little ways to lighten the load and keep some semblance of order and sanity to your working life.

This topic has never been more relevant for me as I am currently 33 weeks pregnant and so I have been working on reducing my stress levels recently. My tired pregnant body needs as stress free an existence as possible and of course my priority is keeping myself well and the baby safe, if you too can feel your stress levels mounting then I hope these tips can help.

Here are my top five ways to reduce stress as a freelancer:

  1. USE ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE – There are absolutely loads of different accounting software out there for freelancers: I would recommend Wave or QuickBooks as being especially easy to use, cheap/free and reliable. Using this software has massively reduced my stress and now means my accounting is no longer a headache. I use the software to categorise outgoings, create/send and log invoices, access income statements and record receipts for business related costs. All this means that at the end of the Tax Year I have instant access to organised accounts making my Tax Return much more straightforward. Head to QuickBooks’ accounting software page to find out more.
  2. USE EMAIL FILTERS – This might be an obvious one to most freelancers, but my most used mode of communication in business is via email – which means my inbox is constantly full and attacking it can be a hugely overwhelming task. Since applying filters to my emails they have been so much easier to tackle. I filter sales emails into one folder, bills into another etc – which means I can access and clear different types of email depending on priority/need and what time scale I have for admin each day.
  3. GET A DROPBOX ACCOUNT – Having a Dropbox account has been such a godsend for my freelance life – I pay just a few pounds per month for unlimited storage and it means I can confidently store all my vital images and documents for work without the worry of losing them or needing to constantly back up. It also means I can access them from any computer/device with my login, anywhere in the world, and I can share any of the files with clients, collaborators and employees when necessary.
  4. ASK FOR HELP/OUTSOURCE – This is a big one for me… it took me a long time to bite the bullet and hire an extra pair of hands, but it is so worth it. Whether you’re drowning in admin, or have no idea where to start when it comes to social media – there will be someone perfect out there that you could hire to lend a hand. It needn’t be for very long – it’s amazing what an expert in social media or someone purely focused on your admin can achieve in just a couple of hours per week. Being able to delegate jobs so that I can focus more on the creative/design side of my business has definitely reduced my stress levels dramatically.
  5. SCHEDULE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA – We all know that keeping up with the social media promotion and interaction for your business can be a full time commitment in itself. I know I’m not alone when I say that social media overwhelms me, and I easily get lost in it, wasting valuable working time and reducing productivity. For me, hiring someone to devise a social media strategy and help me to implement it has been fantastic. The biggest change I made was learning to schedule a large proportion of my social media posts. This means I no longer post infrequently just when I remember to, but instead I schedule in a variety of posts, across all platforms at key times of day – which has seen me reach a wider audience much more consistently. Between me and my social media manager we can set aside time each week to schedule in posts, and then I can concentrate on the creative side of my work – designing my prints, and just dip in and out of social media – replying to comments, keeping track of interactions etc. The social media schedulers I would recommend include BUFFER, GRUM and SOCIAL OOMPH – check them out, they will change your social media life!

What methods do you use to reduce the stress of working as a freelancer? I’d love to know!

Bye for now,

Tabitha x

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Pregnancy & Self Employment…

I’m currently 26 weeks pregnant & this post has been swirling around my head for a while now…

It dawned on me that being pregnant and self-employed puts me in high-pressure situation at what is meant to be the most amazing and exciting time of your life – don’t get me wrong it is ABSOLUTELY exciting and emotional and brilliant (and nerve wracking/scary in equal measure), but because of my freelancer status it has also been pretty stressful too, I wanted to share with you the pros and cons of pregnancy as a freelancer, and a few tips that might help anyone else in the same boat…

THE CONS

  • Exhaustion & Nausea: Being a freelancer means no sick-leave for this pregnant lady (if i want to get paid!), even when I was pretty sick and nauseous…feeling badly hungover on a daily basis during the first trimester (despite not drinking a drop of alcohol) was not fun. It wasn’t pretty either!
  • Markets: Being a large source of my income and a brilliant way to improve the exposure of my business, the markets I attend are absolutely necessary for me. Especially the bigger trade shows (such as Top Drawer) which I have attended twice while pregnant. I obviously have to be careful not to lift heavy things & this proved really tricky at these events – huge thanks to Mr Cross and lots of great friends on-site who lent me their muscles.
  • Meeting Deadlines: Pregnancy feels sometimes like a ticking time bomb with no real idea when it is going to explode. This means that creating and meeting deadlines is tough, and I have this constant worry that I won’t be able to fulfil my commission deadlines – I obviously don’t want to turn down work, and I’m just having to manage customer expectations, trying to be honest and realistic at every turn. This means I’m working as speedily as I can on my good-days and trying to get through my commitments as soon as possible, with the (perhaps futile?) hope that I might have a chance of a rest before this little one arrives.
  • Hormones/Emotional: The past two months has seen me turn into a crazy/emotional/irrational mess on some days.This is worse at my busiest periods when I feel like I’m drowning in work, and I often have a good cry, which weirdly makes me feel much better. I’m sure ladies who aren’t self employed feel all of this too, but being on-my-own on the work front means I can’t really share the work to colleagues or slow down as I might be able if I worked a normal 9-5.
  • Worrying About The Future: When you’re a freelancer and you’re pregnant for the first time like me it is really hard not to worry about what the future will bring. Not only am I dealing with the usual pregnancy-related anxiety, I’m also nervous about how I’ll manage my business post-baby’s birth…I’m SURE it will all work itself out in the wash, but the anxiety is there nonetheless.

THE PROS

  • I don’t have to be up/dressed/out of the house looking smart on a day to day basis – ultimate respect to any pregnant Mum’s-to-be who do have to make that happen daily. I won’t lie – I’ve spent a large majority of this pregnancy working in my pyjamas.
  • I can largely set my own hours, so I have been able to be flexible when I’ve been feeling particularly grotty.
  • I haven’t had to ask for time off for appointments.
  • I haven’t had to put up with unwanted food smells from a staff room/cafe/canteen during the really sicky months. Gosh, was I thankful for working from home during that period.
  • On the whole I haven’t had to be sick in front of people (except Mr Cross) – I cannot imagine dealing with bad morning sickness in front of an office full of people.

ADVICE IF YOU’RE PREGNANT & SELF EMPLOYED

-Know your rights: Do your research as early as possible and know where you stand in terms of self employed rights, maternity leave/pay/allowance. If you can get your head around it all early hopefully you can plan ahead with knowledge and not let it get too overwhelming.

-Be organised: Try your hardest to get as organised as possible on your good days/weeks – this will ease the pressure on your off days.

-Delegate, delegate, delegate…don’t be scared to outsource some of your work – employ an extra pair of hands if you can afford it, get family onside to help wherever possible, call in all your favours – whether it’s hiring a PA/VA, outsourcing your social media, or getting help with your emails/admin, your body & baby will thank you for it in the end.

-Get for a ‘Baby on Board’ badge for public transport use (even if you don’t commute daily) you may well need to get into London for meetings, trade shows, markets etc, and it’ll be handy to have to ensure people are quick to offer you a seat and therefore a more comfortable journey.

-Buy Supplies: Have plenty of bottles of water, ginger beer, biscuits, crackers and salty foods in stock for the days you are feeling particularly rough: these will help you to feel a little more productive on down days and ensure you keep up your energy and stay hydrated. You’ll be good for nothing unless you’re ship shape! Also stock the cupboards full of healthy, quick to prepare meals – you won’t feel up to cooking much, trust me.

-Make your workspace comfy: a new chair, cushions, blankets, quilts, footstool, fan, heater….whatever you might need to keep you as comfy as possible during your working day make sure you buy it! Your back/hips/pelvis will thank you for it.

-BE KIND TO YOURSELF: Yes, you work for yourself, and so you alone are responsible for making ends meet and keeping your business afloat, but in the grand scheme of things your absolute priority is yours and baby’s health…so be kind to yourself, give yourself regular breaks and treats, don’t work ridiculous hours and don’t beat yourself up if you need some days where you binge watch Netflix and eat all the junk!

I am so blooming excited about the arrival of my little bundle, and I have been ridiculously lucky with an amazing husband helping me more than I could have hoped. I’m blessed with brilliant family and friends who have all helped out to make things less stressful…despite all of this it has been and is HARD and emotional and stressful, I’ve been teary and scared and tired and sick.

But I absolutely know it will all be worth it…i just have to imagine holding my baby and all the stress blurs at the edges and I suddenly feel far less scared and overwhelmingly excited.

14 weeks to go & counting….

Tabitha