The New Year is here.

With a fresh calendar comes new ideas,Freelancer Stress commitments, and client expectations. (Not to mention all the stuff you’re behind on from the holidays.)

As a freelancer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Trust me, I know.

With the right approach, however, you can make the day’s stress a bit more manageable. Below are a few tips I find useful and try to live by.

Don’t Work with a “Bed Head”

Rolling out of bed and firing up your computer is certainly tempting. Your contractors in India and The Philippines are wrapping up their days. Maybe you could catch them before they log off. Besides, you’ve got plenty to do, so why not get down to business?

For starters, you’re only a few minutes removed from that crazy dream involving an 8-foot-tall falcon and your great aunt’s minivan. Despite your best intentions, it is going to take a few minutes for your mind to fully awaken. In addition, your eyes have been experiencing total darkness for the last seven to nine hours. Immediately looking at your computer’s monitor can’t be healthy for your eyes – I don’t care what science says.

Perhaps more importantly, from a stress perspective, your body needs some time to “ease into” its day. Thrusting yourself from peaceful slumber into a high stress situation can take its toll. Therefore, it’s best to take some personal time to wake up, pray, eat something, or whatever you find invigorating.

Avoid Monday Morning Meetings

I once heard a news report that most heart attacks happen on Monday. The reasons for this being true are understandable: people are thrust back into reality after enjoying the weekend with family.

Make your transition from the weekend to Monday more manageable. Start by avoiding meetings on Monday morning (or Mondays in general if possible). This isn’t always realistic, especially if you’re trying to impress a new client. However, once you’ve settled into a predictable work schedule, it usually gets easier to control your schedule.

Check Accounts One-at-a-Time

I intentionally avoid looking at my smartphone in the morning. Why? Well, because I know that all of my various email accounts are synchronized into a master inbox on my phone. Looking at my phone in the morning creates stress for me, especially when I see 47 unread messages.

Instead, I prefer to check accounts individually. For example, after logging onto my computer, I’ll check my personal email account (usually the least stressful), followed by my instant messenger accounts, followed by my business email. Notice how I start with the accounts least likely to cause me stress and work up from there. By clearing out or deleting non-stress-inducing messages, I create small victories in my brain and mentally prepare for what could be lurking in my business account (not that I’m paranoid or anything…).

Find Peace in the Small Things

No matter how stressful a morning starts, I always look forward to three things:

  • Playing with my two sons when they wake up
  • Running on my treadmill
  • Drinking coffee

How can you break up your morning to reduce your stress? What little things do you take for granted? Try to structure your day around the things that matter most. It’s easy to say that, but doing it is difficult.

Try to Enjoy Yourself

Last, but not least, try to remember why you’re freelancing in the first place. You’re doing this because you want the flexible lifestyle. You enjoy helping clients. You want to do work that matters and has an impact. No matter what you do in life, you’ll have stress – so take it in stride and try to enjoy your lifestyle as a freelancer.

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Written by Matt Keener

Matt Keener is the original "Executive in Sweatpants," having built a successful online consulting business (from home). His best-selling book offers tips for capitalizing on outsourcing and freelancing. Matt holds an MBA and has been featured by many recognizable brands, including Upwork (formerly oDesk), Elance, Insightly, the Dave Ramsey Show, and Entrepreneur.com.

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