Freelancers: Get More Rest, Get More Done

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on July 13, 2011 in Productivity & Organization
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I've been a bit of a hypocrite lately, not following my own rules about maintaining a work-life balance. Working late happens more often than it should (including today). And I haven't felt very rested -- which makes me feel mentally drained all day, which hurts my productivity even more and leads to more late nights. It's a lousy little cycle.

Sometimes it's completely our fault when these things happen. Maybe we overestimated what we could get done. But sometimes these long hours and lack of rest are a result of outside factors -- more edit requests than expected, illness or my personal nemesis, tech problems that sneak up and monopolize much of my time. And in the end I can get less done in a 12 hour day than I would in a normal eight hour day once the cycle kicks in. Focus takes a major hit when going without adequate rest and downtime.

Starting next week things should get back to normal for me. But that's because I insist on getting back to my schedule -- plenty of rest and relaxation so every minute of work doesn't feel like it drags on for hours. After all, if we don't take care of ourselves outside of work, we can't give the best of ourselves to the job during those normal working hours.

Do you find yourself stuck working late frequently? Are you a workaholic, or does it feel out of your control? What things tend to disrupt your schedule and lead to a lack of rest between projects most often? How do you nip them and get back on track as quickly as possible? How important is rest and your work-life balance to you? Share your thoughts and stories about working without rest in the comments below.

 

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

11 Comments

  1. Cathy Miller July 13, 2011 Reply

    I rarely work late any more. Like you, I did that for too many years so I try not to fall back into that trap. I am working later that I usually do (which is not all that late), but that’s due to adjusting for the time for my training walks.

    We’ll look for our perkier Jenn. LOL! :-D

    • Jennifer Mattern July 13, 2011 Reply

      Do the training walks help at all? When I used to walk early in the morning I know I had much more energy. Lately I’ve just felt drained all the time. It’s definitely partly a summer issue. I always feel more drained when it’s hot — the heat and my body haven’t learned how to play nice yet. Throw in the tech problems that keep sprouting up and wasting my time, and there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

      • Cathy Miller July 13, 2011 Reply

        For me, they do, Jenn. I was really reluctant to use my morning hours for walking. I have been a morning person for as l can remember. Writing late or into the afternoon was just not at all productive for me.

        I am an early riser – anywhere from 5 am – 6 am. I get in some work, then go on my walk (it’s about 1 1/2 hours). The latest I get back is 10:30 am or so. I found since doing this, I can actually be more productive in the late afternoon when I used to fade away.

        Tech problems are probably my biggest drain.

        • Jennifer Mattern July 13, 2011 Reply

          I think all freelancers should have a personal IT guy or gal around at all times. ;)

  2. Megan Collins Quinlan July 13, 2011 Reply

    My routine is to get up super early, get the boring work out of the way and then spend the rest of the doing fun stuff. This works really well for me.

    regardless of how little sleep I have had, I am always fresh for at least a few hours first thing in the morning. if I get tired later in the day, it doesn’t matter so much because the more difficult work has already been completed.

    One a few occasions I have had to contact a client or two and ask for extra time simply because I have allowed myself to get too tired. I get a severe case of brain drain and nothing comes out right. Best avoided.

    • Jennifer Mattern July 13, 2011 Reply

      That’s my usual routine too. I work best in those really early hours. Problem lately is the heat at night — keeps me up too late because I can’t get comfortable, and then I can’t get up at 4am when that happens. I miss those hours so much.

  3. Jon Stow July 14, 2011 Reply

    Outside factors can get in the way no matter how we like to organize ourselves. My wife had an operation a couple of months ago, which meant for a while I had to look after her completely. That meant that I was working when I shouldn’t have been and not getting outdoors for some exercise. My wife is doing well now, so I have more time to get my work done when it suits me and get out also, as well as spending proper rest time with her.

    I am pleased to hear you are getting straight too. It’s all so much better when we are in control.

  4. Rebecca Garland July 14, 2011 Reply

    I’m an expert at being tired. I’m tired all of the time! But then that’s life with two kids and two jobs. I find that have a strict routine is the only way to make it all work. I also have to give myself light days and heavy days. Fridays have to be light days since that’s when I’m most tired at the end of the week and Mondays are hard to get into the groove fully.

    I tend to do the “heaviest” work on Tuesday or Thursday and I only schedule one project per night. Since I accept that I’m only part-time, I’m okay with this and it helps keep things in balance. If I finish early that night, I get to hang out a bit more. If I run late, at least it won’t be too late.

  5. Carol Tice July 14, 2011 Reply

    Well I could have written this post… Working like mad to open my new community, Freelance Writers Den. It’s really gotten unhealthy, but the light is at the end of the tunnel at last.

    I’ve heard of this thing called TV…hoping to maybe check it out in August!

  6. Angie Mangino July 14, 2011 Reply

    When I don’t have balance in my life, my writing suffers. I have to have that inner peace to do my best work. I can burn the midnight oil like the rest of freelancers for an urgent deadline, but as a matter of course, that’s not my daily life anymore.

  7. Rebecca July 18, 2011 Reply

    Yes, I’ve been out-of-balance lately. I get distracted by social media. Facebook is supposed be a tool to help me increase web traffic (and clients) to my writing and websites, but I get caught up with checking out fan pages and status updates. I wish I could create FB fan pages without opening a ‘personal or business’ account. This is why I like Twitter … It’s down and dirty!

    I need balance. If the sun is shining, I find myself staring out the window wishing I was outside. I’ve implemented lunch time; 30 minutes for eating, 30 minutes for walking outside. I’ve also created and am sticking to a social media schedule.

    I’ve also allowed myself to stop and meditate if I need to. I usually meditate for 10 or 15 minutes. Focusing my breath is a great stress reliever.

    Balance is good.

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