It is a common misconception that freelancers have more free (excuse the pun) time on their hands since they are, in essence, their own boss. But what is often forgotten is the pressure that comes with managing your own career. 

For this reason, it is crucial that freelancers learn how to manage their time and plan effectively, but not overdo it. 

But how do you strike the perfect balance between work and play, while staying productive? With these five tips, of course!

Let's dig in:

1. Set clear boundaries

Have you ever heard the saying, 'All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy'? Well in 2022, let's try to not be like Jack. This means ensuring that you establish clear boundaries between work and play. 

How so, you ask? Well, it's not that simple. As many businesses have adopted a work from home or hybrid approach to office life, employees (including freelancers) are required to have an 'always on' approach. In this case, freelancers might have had the 'always on' approach brought into their lives long before it was a thing in the corporate world. 

In this instance, technology is the perpetrator of your burnout and the many hours of screen time may begin to count against you. 

If this is sounding all too relatable, a great place for you to start in striking a work / life balance is by 'unplugging yourself.' This means ridding yourself of the digital world for a day or two, or at least a couple of hours. 

Doing this will help put your likely stressed and overworked mind at ease, and encourage you to connect with the world around you in different ways. Sounds like a win-win to us

Other ways that you can set clear boundaries between your work and your personal life is by: 

Learning to say 'no': If you catch yourself feeling guilty for telling someone 'no', don't! Spreading yourself too thinly is a simple way to feel burnt out, fast. Be it in your work or personal life, stop over-committing yourself. 

Practising self-care: Whether it's going for a walk, painting or taking a bubble bath — make time for yourself. Doing this will allow you to unwind from all the pressure of freelancing, and allow you to tackle work with a refreshed mind. 

Managing your time better: There are never enough hours in a day to get everything done, and that's okay! You aren't a superhuman after all. Rather focus on allotting yourself enough time to get things done and scheduling your day. Because it's true: Even if you ate a Bar One, there would still not be a 25-hour day

2. Define your goals and objectives

Freelancers wear a lot of hats and this is why those working in this industry can easily become overworked and burnt out. 

To avoid being a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, you should work on defining solid and achievable goals and objectives. You can do this by asking yourself what you want to achieve and how you plan on getting there. 

Whether you want to gain four to five new clients or earn more money, ensure that the goals you're setting are SMART:
  • Specific: Don't generalise your goals, but be specific about what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable: It is key that your goals are measurable so that you are able to track your progress as you work towards it.
  • Attainable: It's all good and well to have big dreams; however, ensure the targets you're setting are attainable to avoid disappointment. 
  • Relevant: Ensure that you are setting goals that are relevant to your passions and interests to avoid losing interest.
  • Time-bound: Assigning a time limit to your objectives will help you stay motivated and on track to achieving them. 
Getting this in-depth into your goal setting may seem like overkill, but you won't think that when you are reaping the rewards later on. Moreover, planning to this degree will keep you motivated and working hard, helping to avoid the dreaded burnout. 

3. Be picky with your clients 

It's always beneficial to be booked and busy, but being overbooked and overworked is a common symptom of this — especially for freelancers. 

We get it — you want to grow your client base and the only way to do that is by taking on every job that comes your way, right? Wrong!

Doing this will result in you having way too much on your plate and likely having to sacrifice your quality of work in order to meet your deadlines. And where would this leave you, you ask? With unhappy clients, a bruised reputation and a totally burnt out mindset, and who wants that

Being selective of who you work with will ensure that you secure clients that respect your time, skills and effort. This allows you to pour yourself into patrons that are worth it, enabling you to build lasting relationships over time. Bye-bye burnout!

4. Utilise the right productivity tools 

A chef is nothing without their pots and pans, and the same applies to a freelancer and their productivity tools. 

As you are a one man band, you need all the help you can get — especially from the comfort of your smartphone or laptop. But which apps are the right fit for you, dear freelancer? Let's find out:


Need help planning and managing your tasks? Then Asana is the perfect tool for you! This tool allows its users to prioritise their tasks, create subtasks and track their progress along the way. Additionally, it can be used collaboratively with your clients to have open communication regarding projects.

Asana is a free app and only requires you to pay a small fee when you want to include 15 or more team members on one card. 


If you need a tool to help with your time management, then you should give Toggl a go. This time tracking software tracks how long you spend on specific tasks. 

This is particularly useful for freelancers because as we all know that time is money, and you need to schedule your day accordingly. As you are monitoring the amount of time you spend on your tasks, you can use this insight to price your services accordingly. 


If you're the type of person who is always making lists, Todoist is made especially for you. This tool is pretty straightforward. You can create to-do lists and check off your tasks as you complete them. How satisfying

This is another great way to make sure you are prioritising your work and tracking your progress. 

5. Take some much-deserved time off  

When all else fails, take a break. Sometimes the only thing that will help you recuperate and recharge is having some 'me time'. 

Whether it's for an hour, a day or a week, ensure that you're scheduling some time off. Not only will this downtime allow you to renew your motivation to get back to work, but it will help keep the creative juices flowing. 

After all, the best way to fight burnout is by taking care of yourself and your mental wellbeing, first

Do you have any other tips for combating burnout? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Do you want more tips on how to nail the freelancing game? Then be sure to check out our article, Five tips for being a successful freelance writer
*Image courtesy of Unsplash