Stressed Out Already?

More concrete ideas for freelancers to get 2013 off to a strong start from The Freelancer’s Bible by Sara Horowitz.

Handling Stress

Based on Freelancers Union surveys and years of talking with freelancers, here are their top stressors:

1. The stress of episodic income. “As a freelancer you truly don’t know where the next dollar is coming from or what you’re going to earn in a calendar year. Not everyone can handle that kind of insecurity and yes, it is stressful.” Former staffers might especially feel the pain: “I never used to worry about money. Now I worry all the time.”

2. The stress of work/life balance. “I try to get to the gym and not work on weekends. Sometimes that’s possible, sometimes it isn’t.”

3. The stress of isolation. “It’s kind of scary how much I talk to myself.”

4. The stress of identity. “It’s annoying to have to explain and sometimes justify my freelancing. People don’t really understand what I do.”

Stress can have consequences ranging from headaches to backaches; stomach problems to sleep problems; panic attacks to problems with decision making or concentrating, to name some. Coworkers can cover for stressed-out staffers, but freelancers can’t afford the drag. If stress is getting you down, consult your doctor.

You might remember Damien Golden’s post from last year about the stress and subsequent wake up call that made her learn how to say no to clients.

Seven Stressbusters

1. Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio. The more you take control of your Freelance Portfolio—meaning your most reliable clients– the better you can ride the waves of freelancing.

2. Be excellent. Improving your skills and developing sought-after specialties will make you a freelancer who can command top dollar and top gigs.

3. Seek financial balance. The more you can reduce your living costs, pay down debt, start saving, and track your income and spending, the less frazzled you’ll feel about money.

4. Find your work rhythm. As a freelancer, you’re free to work the way you work most productively, healthfully, and happily. In The Freelancer’s Bible, there are quizzes to find your best work habits and solutions for your worst.

5. Get a life. “It isn’t work habits I’d like to improve—it’s life habits. I need to do other things so I don’t work all week and all weekend, which is what I do now.”

6. Pad the schedule. But never tell.

7. Don’t go it alone. Confide in your Brain Trust. Help and hang out with family and friends. Network with other freelancers as potential subcontractors, project partners, and problem solvers.

BTW: one of the ways CFC-ers find their “tribe” or “posse” as we’ve called them is at the conference each year. 2013 will be our 6th year and many of the freelancers will be back to check in with their colleagues. (Will you?) Join us: June 22-24, 2013 in San Francisco. Get $50 off when you sign up by the early-bird deadline, March 15, 2013. Details here.