Mélanie Johnsson

Journal

Stories from behind the scenes...

Busy vs. Not Busy

 
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I have been meaning to write about the ups and downs of freelance life for a while. More and more people are taking the plunge to work for themselves, often not fully aware of what being self-employed really entails. The freelance life has lots of benefits : the freedom to do what one's want, the multiple choices one can make, the wonderful array of opportunities, the feeling of control over one's life (wait, wait, that one may be debatable). There is (often) no doubt in people's minds that being self-employed is amazing. Probably also because most freelancers brag about the greatness of their status and rarely dare speak about the downs. But today, I'd like to talk about a specific predicament of freelance life, and how one can remedy to it. The (un)famous dilemna a lot of freelancers face, the...

 

So-busy-i-can't-stop-i'm-burning-out

versus

Not-busy-i'm-freaking-out-will-i-ever-work-again.

 

 

If you're a freelancer yourself, you know what I'm talking about. You get very busy, take on a lot of work and that makes you happy for a while, until you start feeling like you said yes to too much, and are now on the edge of burning out. And some other times, you don't have any (interesting) projects coming your way, nothing really great and you start stressing out: about money, about life, about your skills and your work, it's all downhill from there. Will you EVER work again? Or rather, will you EVER have good projects coming your way again?

This is silly. It's now time to step back, take a deep breath, and figure out exactly what you want in this life. Time to think about why you do what you do, and why you make choices and say no to things that aren't right for you. Time to think about why you chose the path of being your own boss. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't to feel stressed 100% of your precious time on this planet.

I thought I would share with you the little things that I do to avoid feeling very anxious when I find myself in these not-so-busy work periods. As a reminder, and if that wasn't already pretty clear, not always being super busy is completely normal. It is the cycle of work. Anyway, on with the 5 tips!

 
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This is obvious but essential. You are your own boss but you're also your main resource, your main treasure. You need your body and your mind to function at maximum capacity. You really want to be the best version of yourself. So when work isn't busy, don't feel bad for taking care of yourself: exercise, take naps, pamper yourself, eat well and do all the things that make you feel good.

 
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Not being too busy gives you time to brush up your skills. Make sure you're on top of your craft. Do what you love doing most, experiment with tools and ideas. Have fun! It's the best time to feel more creative and explore all the routes you usually don't have time to. Be the best you can be in your field, in your world, in your own style.

 
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Time to find visual (but not only) inspiration from the most traditional or curious places. Read about what you love and read about weird sciences facts, listen to historical podcasts and watch cult films you haven't seen before, surf the corners of the web to find things you've never heard about before and to view things that will amaze and inspire you. This is part of your work, this is filling up your brain with references, and that's immensely valuable.

 
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If you start feeling like the not-so-busy period is drawing out, you might want to start looking for the work you want to do yourself. There's many ways to do this but there is two important things to remember: be yourself and share your work. Email, send beautiful snail mail, get in touch with the right people, the people that will understand your vision and want to work with you because you understand theirs. Try not to be afraid of rejection. Things that are meant to happen will happen, and things that aren't meant to happen...well, you get the idea.

 
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I'm going to assume that if you took the plunge to work for yourself, that's partly because you want control over your life. You probably want to feel free to do what you want, when you want it and intertwine your work with your personal life in the best possible way. Find a work/life balance that suits you well. You'll soon realise that there is no point stressing out, as work will come back and opportunities will arise, you just need to be patient and enjoy your life in the meantime. Try to be your happiest everyday, whatever you're doing.

 
 

There you go. These are the few tips I follow when I feel like I'm loosing it a bit. I hope they help and/or inspire you to feel better and appease your anxieties during these not-busy periods...

Now, let's do this!

 

 

Do you have some good tips yourself? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you!