Freelancers: Get More Rest, Get More Done

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, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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10 thoughts on “Freelancers: Get More Rest, Get More Done”

  1. 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! 😀

    • 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.

      • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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. 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. 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. 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.

  6. 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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