Importance of wellbeing for freelancers – lessons from a real-life experience
This is not intended to provide a comprehensive outlook on the wellbeing of freelancers.
It’s a little article where I draw on my recent life experience when I almost become immobile due to a health issue and the lessons I learned when things get too much and how to approach burnouts in the future. As freelancers we all constantly face dilemmas. Some of these, such as job security, might have been aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic for some of us. After the first lockdown was announced, my regular workload had changed and I found myself getting more job offers from IT, gastronomy and hospitality sectors. I thought getting jobs from the hospitality sector was strange given the enormous impact the pandemic had on that sector. Anyway, going back to the original subject, the summer was fairly quiet but I don’t mind that as I use that time to exercise, socialise and be outdoors in general. However when the autumn was in the corner, that’s when things started getting busier again. I don’t know how you approach this, but with my regular clients I try and fulfil their requests as much as possible – of course there is also a limit to your productivity and one needs to draw a line. I try and not to work evenings and weekends in order to prevent burnouts and keep work and life balance. Having said this I felt that recently I might have taken on too much work which led to multiple burnouts and eventually a health issue. I mentioned that I try and exercise. This time I found myself working too much and then exercising – due to lockdown I took up running again – too much when I wasn’t working. One day I found myself in intense pain and it carried on for days on end. I won’t go into too much detail but I was not able to walk or sit properly for a good week. In my opinion, sitting too much for prolonged periods of time for the purpose of getting the work done and go on to the next project, sometimes starting at 6 in the morning and finishing at 6pm or even later contributed to this enormously.
I now try take a brake at least every 25 minutes and use the Pomodoro technique described below, bought a coccyx cushion and looking to try a kneeling chair. “Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.” You can read more about it here https://bit.ly/2N7B9gk
I have just finished reading Sarah Townsend’s “Survival Skills for Freelancers: Tried and Tested Tips to Help You Ace Self-Employment Without Burnout” which has so much valuable information on how to prevent burnouts. I will be writing a separate review about this invaluable resource that every freelancer should read.
As freelancers we might have our worries about financial security but our wellbeing should be the biggest priority. If we aren’t healthy and well, we cannot enjoy fruits of our hard work. It’s important to manage your day and not let the day manage you. This can include making your workload more manageable and work with clients that you enjoy working with the most, finding ways of working smarter, taking regular breaks away from work and screens, move as much as you can and not neglect your biggest asset, your own wellbeing!
Just to recap, some of the things that we can do to improve our wellbeing can include:
✅ manage your day and not let the day manage you
✅ make your workload more manageable
✅ work with clients that you enjoy working with the most
✅ finding ways of working smarter
✅ take regular breaks away from work and screens
✅ consider using the Pomodoro Technique where you focus on a task at hand for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break (see the article)
✅ move as much as you can throughout the day including walking outside
About the author:
My name is Ali Yildirim. I originally studied Classical Archaeology at the University of Istanbul, before coming to the UK in 2001 and working as an archaeologist for 2 years.
I have worked in the language services industry in various roles including as a teacher of Turkish, interpreter and bilingual teaching assistant before setting out as a freelance Turkish translator in 2005. I obtained a diploma in translation in 2012 and became a member of the Institute of Chartered Linguists in the same year and obtained a Chartered Translator status in 2019. I am also a qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and ISO 17100:2015 Qualified Translator.