Dealing with customers and clients is no walk in the park. In fact, it can be downright stressful at times. If you’re feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, you’re not alone. In fact, 7.8% of the British population are candidates for mixed anxiety and depression according to diagnosis criteria, and people in the creative sector are three times more likely to experience mental health issues. With 4.4 million solo self-employed workers in the UK, this is absolutely concerning.
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with the stress of doing business. One way is external: reducing stress by improving your business processes and workflow. The second is internal: through mindfulness meditation.
Improving Your Workflow
When it comes to reducing stress, improving your workflow is key. This means streamlining your processes and making things more efficient. For freelancers, this could mean setting up a specific system for invoicing, tracking deadlines, and organizing project files. It could also mean establishing routines and rituals for working that help you focus and stay on task.
Scheduling Your Work
Try to create a general schedule for each day to create a routine. Routines help in creating stability and security. Also, if you have different clients, try to schedule your availability to each one. Having to talk to only one set of clients for a period of time each day will allow you to compartmentalise your thoughts and your work more easily.
Automating Your Work
You can also look into automating some parts of your process. Depending on what you do, this can be various things; you can set up spreadsheets with macros and commands to automate figure-related tasks or invoicing, and AI assistants like Google Assistant help you set events, keep to your schedule, take notes, and make reminders. If it comes down to it, you can even use paid AI services for various things such as writing and making art, lessening your workload. Examples of AI writing apps are Jasper, Rytr, and Wordtune, while the most popular AI image generators are Dall-E and NightCafe. Regardless of which one you choose, these apps can help you get through the bulk of creative work quickly; writing becomes more like editing, while making new art becomes more like brushing up.
When your workflow is streamlined, you’ll spend less time scrambling to find things, creating content, or trying to track down customers. This gives you more time to spend on leisure. You’ll also be able to work more efficiently, which can lead to increased productivity and improved morale. In short, improving your workflow can make life as a freelancer much less stressful.
Mindfulness meditation is a type of mindfulness practice in which you focus your attention on the present moment and become aware of your thoughts, emotions, and surroundings without judgment. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings so that you can respond to them more mindfully and deliberately. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress, improve focus and concentration, and boost self-awareness and empathy.
If you’re interested in giving mindfulness meditation a try, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. You can meditate anywhere; whether it is in your office, at home, or outside in nature, you can do it wherever you feel most comfortable.
- Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe, focus your attention on the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your body.
- Notice any thoughts or emotions that arise without judgment or attachment. This can be difficult at first, but try not to get caught up in thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Just let those thoughts come and go like clouds passing through the sky.
- If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to focusing on your breath. Meditation takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if your mind wanders often at first. Just keep bringing it back to the present moment. When you’re finished meditating, take a few deep breaths and slowly open your eyes. Congratulate yourself for taking the time to meditate!
If you do this regularly, you will eventually find it easier to shrug off small disturbances and annoyances. These things sap your mental energy and motivation regardless of how small they are. With these discarded, you can focus on things that matter and things that actually deserve your energy.
If stress proves too much for mere meditation to work, you might need help from other people. Look towards your support system — your family, friends, and pets. Spending time with them can relieve stress, and if that still doesn’t work, you can get help from a professional through Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT. This aims to teach practitioners how to manage stress and deal with their emotions, and you can easily find a DBT course online through a quick Google search.
Both automating your work and being mindful can help you to reduce stress, improve productivity, and increase morale as a freelancer. Automation helps you to take care of the more mundane or time-consuming tasks so that you have more time for leisure, while mindfulness meditation allows you to focus on the present moment and become less attached to negative thoughts and emotions. Neither of these practices are difficult to learn or implement and both can be done anywhere. If you’re looking for ways to make life as a freelancer less stressful, consider giving one or both of these techniques a try!