November 27, 2020

How to truly enjoy your downtime as a freelancer when clients are quiet

Written by Martin Baxter

It’s oh so quiet…shhh…shhh…it’s oh so still. A classic Bjork song, but we sure as hell don’t like it when it happens to us freelancers. Forgive us for saying this because we like a break as much as the next person, but haven’t we had a little too much downtime this year?! 

One of the features of 2020 is that it has tended to be a bit feast-or-famine when it comes to commissions and contracts. Ebbs and flows in work are all part of freelance life, but this year has been on another level. Combine this with general lockdown-anxiety and many freelancers are feeling like they have forgotten how to enjoy their downtime.  

So this blog is a call to focus on de-stressing during your quiet periods. Here’s a few ideas as to how you can embrace the downtime. We have another blog post for ideas how to find work and collaborate, but this is about you, giving back to you. 

Aaaaand breathe 

As freelancers, we sometimes find it hard to say no to work, especially when times are tough and we don’t know what is around the corner. 2020 has been one hell of a year, and between chasing work, home-schooling, watching all of those government COVID-briefings and trying to squeeze six months’ worth of social activity into August, we’re all exhausted. So, if your clients go quiet, take this moment to focus on yourself and recharge.  

Rediscover the joys of the afternoon nap (10/10, would recommend). Get off your phone and pick up a book (remember those?). A scented candle, a bath bomb and some chill out tunes and your bathroom can basically become a luxury spa, if you close your eyes and ignore your kids’ Finding Nemo bath toy set. 

Skills, skills, skills 

Many people used lockdown to learn a new skill, and a quiet period for a freelancer is no different. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to get fluent in a new language or pick up an instrument. If you want to feel like you’re working, why not try and get to grips with something that will expand your existing freelance skillset? You could teach yourself to code or get to grips with Wordpress for your website – there are loads of online resources and courses to help you get started. Or spend the time finding your way around some new creative software like image editing, video editing, animation or digital drawing. Adobe Creative Cloud includes over 20 apps – how many do you know how to use? 

Fill that freezer 

We know you’re probably sick of banana bread, but had you thought of using your kitchen now to save you time when work picks up again? When jobs are coming in thick and fast, it’s sometimes hard to remember to stop and make dinner. Cue spending all of that extra income on takeaways and fast food. So if you have a bit of downtime now, why not batch cook for the freezer? Channel your inner Nigella Lawson and turn your weekly online shopping delivery into a whole winter’s worth of homemade ready meals. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you for it when things get busy again. 

Get moving 

When the calendar fills up, that daily walk is the first thing to go, right? And now that it’s dark outside, that 6am run seems even less appealing than it did in July. But getting outside and exercising in the fresh air is crucial for your mental and physical wellbeing. If you’re having a quiet period, use this extra time to get out there in the daylight. You could take on a challenge to run or walk a certain distance over the month or do scavenger hunts around your neighbourhood. Escape on your bike to local beauty spots during weekdays when they’re nice and quiet. And if the weather is rubbish, you know that Yoga with Adrienne will always be there to spend an hour stretching it out on the mat with you. 

Sort your life out (and your business insurance!) 

Admit it: sometimes you use being busy as an excuse to avoid doing those really important, boring, admin tasks that come as part and parcel of freelance life. ‘I would sort out my tax return today, but that client really does want that logo set finished by Friday’. ‘I really must update my expenses file, but I need to cram in all this research before that Zoom meeting’. If this sounds like you, then your job for this quiet period is to sit down at your desk and do all those little bitty admin tasks that you’ve been putting off. Write that to-do list, pour yourself a massive brew, you’ve got this.  

Help is not far away 

If, however, you are finding it hard to destress and the worries are getting on top of you, it can be hard to talk to friends and family about it when they might be going through the same position. Well help is at hand. Each of our freelance insurance policies comes with a free counselling helpline, as part of our Freelancer Assist cover. This is a 24 hour phone line where you can speak with a trained counsellor about any mental health issues you have. 

If you don’t have a freelancer insurance policy with us yet, then take a look here. It only takes 5 minutes to buy, and if you are not working you can reduce your premium by almost 50%, but keep your cover in place. The Freelancer Assist is always on, 24/7, no matter if you are working or not. As you never know when you might want to talk to someone. 

About Martin Baxter

Read more blog posts by Martin Baxter


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