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How to Avoid Creative and Mental Blocks as a Freelancer

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Amy Payne is a Boston-based freelance writer with a love for all things wellness and holistic health. When she’s not working, she enjoys rock climbing and baking.

These days, freelance graphic designer Jessica Hische describes how remote work is particularly suited for creatives who desire more independence. However, competition for clients can be fierce, so having a solid portfolio and a strong educational background is vital for success.

Today more people are looking to study and start a career as a freelancer, which has led to a rapid increase of specialists in areas such as digital design and media.

For instance, Maryville University’s forecasts for students studying digital media degrees notes that the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 26% increase in the coming years as more companies look to further their digital presence. With a marked increase in the number of graduates, most of those companies will look to hire experts on a temporary basis — and that’s just one section of the freelancing community.

Due to this ever-increasing competition, creatives often have to face the consequences of burnout, stress, and fatigue in order to stay ahead. These can make it almost impossible to complete projects in a timely manner, which can take a huge toll on your reputation as a freelancer.

Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or a designer, keeping these tips in mind will help keep your creative juices flowing when you need them.

Tip 1: Set clear boundaries with clients

When it comes to working with clients, it’s vital that you set clear working hours for yourself. From the very beginning, you should manage expectations and create a set of guidelines that both you and your client agree on. This includes the number of revisions you need to make, turnaround time, and how long you take to respond to any queries.

An article on mental health by Thrive Global explains how unplugging from work will help you let off some steam and have some time for yourself. Otherwise, being constantly available can leave you feeling drained and overworked.

Tip 2: Try a change of pace or scene

Sometimes, being stuck in a regular routine can leave you feeling bored and demotivated when it comes to generating new ideas and concepts. Shaking it up once in a while and getting out of this rut can impact your frame of mind and spark some creativity.

Depending on your situation, working different hours, visiting a coffee shop, or taking longer breaks can help you adjust your routine for the better. Letting your surroundings inspire you can help you tackle challenges from a different perspective.

Tip 3: Get away from your computer

Depending on the demands of your project, getting absorbed in your work and spending hours staring at your screen is a definite possibility. However, spending too much time on electronic devices can cause poor eyesight, neck strain, and poor sleeping patterns.

As a result, taking the time out of your day to go outside and do some physical activity can help counter this. As a freelancer, taking regular breaks should be a habit to promote your overall well being.

Tip 4: Don’t forget about your downtime

Between dealing with difficult clients and pitching new ideas, downtime can seem like a myth for the busy freelancer. It’s important to remember that you’re only human, so taking some time off to recharge your batteries isn’t a bad thing.

Fast Company explores how balance is key to overcoming burnout and this means taking advantage of your time off on nights and weekends when you’re able to. Going to an art show or watching a movie can refuel your creativity when it’s on the verge of running out.

At the end of the day, feeling creatively blocked is something that happens to almost everyone. To prevent yourself from getting to this point, it helps to manage your resources and listen to your body’s needs.

Understanding your limits and prioritizing mental and physical self-care can help you overcome some of the difficulties that come with being a creative freelancer. In our guide to ‘3 Tools to Help you Manage Freelance Projects’, we discuss how organization and time management can help you stay on top of all your projects.

Learning how to take advantage of the tools available to you and making adjustments to your daily routine can make all the difference in your career.

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