How to Banish Freelancer Guilt

Nov 15, 2022 | Tips & Tricks

Have you ever wandered into the supermarket to do a weekly shop at 3pm and thought, “maybe I should be working on a strategy” or “I could have arranged that client call for now instead”? Sound familiar?

Calling all freelancers! It’s time to banish that freelancer guilt once and for all. Let’s be honest, you embarked on the journey for a reason, to give yourself a greater amount of flexibility and better work-life balance. So, surely shopping for groceries or heading to see your friends during the day is perfectly OK?

It’s easier said than done, we know, to try and not let the wave of guilt wash over you in these moments. But the problem many freelancers face when feeling this way, is that they then compensate by overworking and eventually, burning out.

It’s all about figuring out how to create a balance

We know many 9 to 5-ers spend a lot of the day clock watching and counting down the hours until they can switch off for the day, while freelancers tend to do the opposite. And, by opposite, we mean polar opposite.

Those of us in the self-employed line of work tend to see every minute not spent working as a complete waste of ours and our client’s time. Being your own boss isn’t easy and if it was, there’d be even more of us out there!

Feeling guilty about working half as much as others while, sometimes, making more money is a struggle for many of us. Here are some of our top tips on how to banish the guilt…

1. Make plans to see family and friends during your quiet times and stick to them

One of the biggest reasons we go freelance is to be able to have a better work – life balance so we shouldn’t punish ourselves for doing exactly that! It may take a little getting used to, but it’s important to make plans for yourself. Whether that’s going to see friends and family at unconventional times, booking a coffee date with a fellow freelancer or simply going for a walk, having these blocks of time in your diary can really help.

You may even find that breaking off from your busy schedule and getting some space from work, actually puts your head in a more creative or analytical space ready for your next project.

2. Go for a “gratitude” run or have a workout at 9am during rush hour

What better way than to make yourself feel grateful for saying goodbye to the 9 to 5 life than to do something for yourself at peak rush hour! Say au revoir to crammed tube carriages or standing under someone’s armpit on the bus, and hello to slower mornings finding the time for you.

3. Remember, work is work, and rest is rest

You’ll only burn yourself out if all you’re thinking about while resting is work. Try setting your alarm throughout the day to give yourself 20-minute breaks. Grab a coffee, play with the dog, but whatever you do, don’t think about anything work related for that entire time.

Work shouldn’t rule your life, even as a freelancer. Allowing yourself and your brain those moments of quiet, will really make a difference.

4. Where possible, set your working hours

Yes, being a freelancer affords you to work whenever you want, but don’t fall into the trap of working at 10pm. Decide when you’re most productive, either in the morning or later into the evening. You might decide to work from 12pm to 8pm, or 6am to 2pm – whichever works best for you, set the times from the word go and stick to them.

Of course, if you have some extra work to finish that’s urgent, you may go over those hours. But if that work is absolutely not urgent, respect yourself enough to follow the schedule.

5. Turn those pesky notifications off

We’ve all done it! Read an email that’s come through from a client at 9pm and logged on to reply. One of the most challenging things in the life of every freelancer is deciding to ignore any emails, messages, or requests until the next day.

What could possibly happen if you’re not there for your client all hours of the day? They may get annoyed, sure. But if you’re following the schedule and delivering on time, they can’t expect you to only live and breathe for them. And, if you want to stay sane and productive, it’s crucial to practice digital detox once in a while.

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