What's on the iPod: Turning Tables by Adele
Wow. That was short-lived. I was able to spend exactly three hours on Tuesday relaxing. Then four new projects came in, three of which are due next week. One is a 2K-word article. Marathon time again.
Yesterday was a nice mid-week break. There are benefits to living in Valley Forge besides spending plenty of time in the park on the trails. Yesterday the park hosted a community picnic. We talked to rangers we normally see driving around the area, and got to learn about the wildlife, including the coyotes that I didn't know were there. The highlight for certain was hearing "Thomas Jefferson" recite the Declaration of Independence. Nothing stirs your patriotism like hearing that read aloud.
Despite the workload of late, I didn't forget to reward myself for those last three and a half weeks of non-stop work. I spent my lunch hour at the mall where I picked up some new pants and a skirt at Gap. But then right home again to work on one of the projects.
The reward part is often the difference between a happy freelancer and a burned-out one. Imagine working hard for 12 months straight and not allowing yourself a vacation or even a long weekend. Imagine two months of that without one hour to yourself. It's not hard to see how quickly your mood could drop.
Just because you can work anytime and all the time doesn't mean you should. Find ways to give yourself a break, a treat, or a reward for a goal met.
Buy those shoes. Or that hockey stick or the pants you've been needing. For smaller goals, I usually reward myself with nail polish or ice cream. That works as a pick-me-up when the budget is tight and you're losing steam.
Give yourself five more minutes on Facebook. My spare time goes right to one of three things -- Bejeweled Blitz, Spider Solitaire, or Ancestry.com. I don't make apologies for needing play time, nor should you. Finish that bear of a project and go play. You've earned it.
Treat yourself or your partner. When I'm flush with project earnings, I want to treat him to dinner or movies or even a weekend getaway. Make sure the significant other(s) who has lost that time with you gets it back in some way.
Splurge. I remember splurging after finishing a $12K project. I went straight to the mall and replaced a tired wardrobe. Maybe you'd rather spend money on that European vacation or that cruise.
Save for that big item. Maybe, like me, the $12K projects don't come every month for you. While you're working hard at all those projects on your desk, total in your head what your estimated income from these will be. Then take a percentage of that and put it aside -- literally. It's not for taxes or retirement. It's for your big item -- that trip or that car or.... Sometimes just the act of designating it into its own account is rewarding in itself.
Do you reward yourself often enough? When you are feeling burned out, does a reward help? What type of reward motivates you best?