Do Successful Freelancers Prioritize Self-Care?

March 15, 2024
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Which of these sounds more familiar: 1) “I'll rest as soon as I finish this project,” or 2) “I'm going to take a 30-minute walk so I can finish this project strong”?

Most of the freelancers I talk to fall into the first group. The most successful freelancers I know fall into the second group. What's the difference? Those freelancers who give the second response are prioritizing self-care.

I love chatting with podcast guests when we're recording episodes for Boss Responses. One of the topics that comes up almost every time is how they maintain such a high level of success. Hard work, a great network, and not giving up are all top answers. But the one I hear the most is prioritizing self-care.

Most of us choose to run a freelance business because of the benefits. Along with those benefits come deadlines, difficult clients, creativity blocks, and a long list of other stressors. How do you deal with them without going a little crazy? You rest, relax, and build your resilience by focusing on self-care.

Engage in Activities You Enjoy

One of the most effective ways to practice self-care is by engaging in activities you genuinely enjoy. Whether it's exercising, focusing on your favorite hobby, or simply taking some chill time, these activities help reduce stress and elevate your mood.

Identify activities that bring you joy and make time for them. Whether it's a daily walk, reading a book, gardening, or cooking, prioritize the activities that help you de-stress as essential components of your routine. Reading is my go-to stress relief and self-care activity.

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Want to take it up a notch? Share your interests with others. I know many people who are in clubs or online groups related to their hobbies. This enhances your enjoyment and helps you builds a supportive community around shared interests.

Schedule Downtime

This one is harder than the others for many of us. Regular breaks and downtime help prevent burnout and keep your energy levels up, ensuring you can perform at your best.

I'm bad about taking breaks. I tend to start a project and then hyper-focus for hours. I've tried apps that remind me to stand up or take a deep breath (I ignore them), setting aside break time in my calendar (more ignoring), and a whole host of other “tactics” that break the cycle. None of them has worked for me.

What does work for me is having a pet in the office. They want attention, need a walk, interrupt calls, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. It's perfect for me.

Use the Tools and Techniques that Work for You

I've also fallen in love with a tool called Llama Life. It allows me to add a list of tasks and set a time for each. Once I push play on that list, it stays in the background on my computer. When it's time for me to switch tasks, it flashes and plays a tone.

I'm more productive and I remember to take breaks because I make break time one of the tasks. Don't be afraid to play brain games with yourself if that's what it takes!

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In the spirit of “do what I say and not what I do,” I recommend that you make a conscious effort to schedule downtime in your daily routine. Set reminders to take short breaks, and don’t shy away from taking a day off when needed. Use this time to relax and recharge, doing activities that help you unwind.

You can even use tools like meditation apps, relaxation music, or guided breathing exercises during your breaks to take them to the next level. I'm a huge fan of the Calm app.

Self-Care is Not a Luxury

Self-care is often misunderstood as a luxury. It's not! Self-care is a fundamental practice for maintaining overall well-being. Think of taking care of yourself as recharging your batteries so you can operate at full power. Regular self-care enhances your resilience, improves your mood, and boosts your overall quality of life.

Treat self-care as a non-negotiable part of your schedule. I want you to understand and believe that taking time for yourself is not selfish. It's essential for your health and productivity.

Building a Sustainable Self-Care Routine

It’s important to build a sustainable self-care routine that fits into your schedule and meets your needs.

Getting Started: Start small and gradually build up. Incorporate simple self-care activities like stretching, journaling, or drinking a cup of tea into your daily routine. As you become more comfortable, add more activities that you enjoy and that help you relax.

Maintaining Your Routine: Consistency is key. Set aside specific times each day or week dedicated to self-care activities. Use planners or apps to help you stick to your routine. Even better, consider involving other people so you feel accountable. Set up a regular coffee date or movie night. Have a monthly day at the spa or join a community league if sports are your thing.

Build a Community: Self-care is even more fun when you build a community around it! Encourage friends and family to join you in self-care activities they enjoy. This strengthens your relationships and helps you stay committed to your routine.

Start Right Now

Start small and commit to one self-care activity today, no matter how simple. Whether it’s a short walk, a hobby, or simply some quiet time, make it a priority. Remember, taking care of yourself is the first step to taking care of everything else in your life.


  • Treasa Edmond

    With 30 years in the workforce, 15 of those running her own freelance writer and content strategy business, Treasa has worked with all kinds of clients. It took her years to break out of an employee mindset so she could become the boss of her business. Now she's sharing her proven client management strategy and communication process so you can become the boss of your business today!