As freelancers, we know that part of keeping ourselves sane is acquiring the skill to not panic when the phone isn’t ringing. After 16 years of freelancing, I still haven’t learned the art of curtailing this silent panic so there are things I have learned to do as a distraction instead.
Here I share some of my tips for staying productive and panic free when the phone isn’t ringing and there’s tumble weed blowing through the inbox.
1. Make sure your accounts are up to date
A lot of us avoid this side of the business because it isn’t creative and quite frankly, it’s boring. However, a bit like taking the bins out, it is one of those jobs that needs to be done. Even just an hour of accounts on a quiet day is a job well done.
2. Have a look through your diary and pad
Sometimes I write notes to myself. I may have a potential client contact me regarding some work they may need me for in the future. They might say that they won’t be ready for my voice until two months from now. On quiet days, I go through my diary and pads and look for reminders I have written myself, and then I act on them. Jobs like this can slip near the bottom of the list when you are busy so keep on top of it when it is quiet.
3. Do some research
Use a few hours to get your head around something software related, read some blogs by people in the industry whom you admire, find some good videos on Youtube, listen to podcasts and audiobooks or how about finding some articles on the latest trends in your particular industry.
4. How is your archiving?
I don’t know about you but in the same way I come in from a run sometimes and sling my trainers in the first convenient place, when it’s busy and deadlines are looming, my careful archiving can go temporarily out of the window.
As freelancers, we have many files on our computers and the more clients we acquire and more work we do, the more potential there is for disorder and confusion. When it is quiet, I make an effort to go into all my files and make sure everything is correctly labelled and in its rightful place. Doing this means that when it is busy again, you will have already facilitated an efficient workflow.
5. Look after yourself
Finally, if we are not fit and healthy then none of the above matters. When you find yourself twiddling your thumbs, get your trainers on and get yourself to the gym, out for a jog or even just a good brisk walk. Treat your dog to an extra-long walkies. Listen to an audio book or podcast at the same time if taking time out makes you feel guilty.
I also use quiet times to make myself some healthy meals that I can freeze and then call upon when I am busy again and can’t justify an hour or two in the kitchen.