How Freelancers Can Stay Positive During the Coronavirus Crisis
There are a lot of negative emotions swirling around right now: fear; stress; frustration; anxiety; depression. And what’s worse is that it feels like there’s no escape from them. We don’t know how long the coronavirus crisis is going to last, so we can’t allow these negative emotions to overwhelm us day in and day out. It’s not sustainable. What’s more, there’s a direct correlation between negativity and productivity. So, when you’re feeling bad about something, you’re more likely to lose focus. And when you give in to distractions and allow yourself to procrastinate, you feel guilty about not doing the things you said you would do. It’s a vicious cycle. Here’s what I’m going to suggest: We’ve had some time to adjust to the new “normal”. We might not know everything about the virus, but we at least know what we’re in for for the foreseeable future. So, let’s try and take back some control over our own personal worlds and stay positive as best we can. Let’s look at some ways to bring some positive energy into our lives and our businesses during this crisis:
1. Limit Your Exposure to Social Media and News Apps
Right now, coronavirus is all anyone is talking about. There’s no way to stop the news cycle or to clear up our social media feeds until we get through the crisis. But that doesn’t mean you need to be fully entrenched in coronavirus talk — especially when you’re trying to focus on your work and stay positive. I don’t know how many of you do this normally, but focus apps are great for this. Which ones you use depends on where your weightiest distractions come from. For instance, I use Boomerang to silence my Gmail inbox during the day. Not only does this silence work emails when I need to focus, but it keeps coronavirus news alerts and marketing messages from getting in the way. While there are some great distraction-blocking apps for iOS, Android, and Windows devices (Freedom is probably the best out there), you have to pay for them. So, what I do to keep costs down is use my devices’ distraction-free modes to block access to social media.
2. Connect with Other Freelancers
As freelancers, most of us don’t have a workplace of colleagues we interact with on a regular basis. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to connect with our peers — especially now when things in our businesses might not be as predictable and stable as we’ve become accustomed to. Let’s look at an example of when this might come in handy: I’ve seen too many messages on Facebook from freelancers asking what to do if a client wants to cut their rates or a prospect suggests paying practically nothing for a whole lot of work. The justification is always that these are uncertain times and they need to cut back. But what they’re really doing is devaluing the work that freelancers do. And if freelancers set the precedent now that they’ll build a website for a couple hundred dollars, it’s going to be hard justifying raising rates again when things return to normal. So, having a community of designers and other creatives to turn to right now is critical. Not only does it give you a place to work through these kinds of unique circumstances in your business and get the support you need, but it gives you a safe space to vent about what’s going on. Facebook Groups are a good place to find these communities. You can also look for local Meetups that bring together creatives (virtually) on a weekly or monthly basis.
3. Spend Quality Time with Friends and Family
For many of us who worked from home before the coronavirus, isolation is nothing new. That said, the coronavirus has thrown a wrench in the works for all of us, regardless of our living situation: If you live and work alone, for example, self-isolation is normal. However, you no longer have the ability to break out of your home after work or on the weekends and this is something that many freelancers need to bring a much-needed balance to their lives. So, what do you do? If you’re feeling more isolated than usual, reach out to those closest to you and do some Facetiming. Even a few minutes a day can help break the monotony and loneliness of being alone 24⁄7 and give you the positive lift you need. If you live with a roommate, partner, or your family, on the other hand, your home is now inundated with “noise” that wasn’t there before. Whereas before your loved ones served as a break from work, you’re all now working and studying and living on top of each other. If you need a break from anything, it’s probably them. So, what do you do? If you feel overwhelmed and stressed by the full house, it might be a good idea to set a strict schedule, rules, and boundaries. It might require you to cut back on how many hours you work, but you can at least be more productive when you have a dedicated time and space to work. In turn, you can emerge from your workspace and go back to enjoying the time you have with your housemates and loved ones.
4. Keep Working Even If You’re Not “Working”
If your work has been compromised by the coronavirus, it’s a good idea to keep busy. I’m not telling you to go out there and hustle and start a new business venture. Instead, fill your daily schedule with activities that make you feel hopeful and get you excited about your business. Even if you move the needle just a little bit, the progress you make now is going to feel great. Think about how hard it is to find time to do work on your business normally. Wouldn’t it feel good to throw a little love its way while you have the time? You could:
- Redesign your website;
- Refresh your portfolio;
- Improve your social media presence;
- Grow your LinkedIn professional network;
- Tighten up your processes and automate what you can.
You could also use this time to sharpen your design skills and business savvy. There are so many companies offering their products, resources, and courses at reduced rates (or even free) right now, so this would be the perfect time to pounce on the opportunity. Even if clients have hit the “Pause” button on projects or it’s just that revenue is coming in more slowly than usual, keep your business moving in a positive direction. It’ll give you something to look forward to once things return to normal and you can go full speed ahead again.
5. Make Time for Something Fun Every Day
When you’re stuck in one place and told not to do the things you’d normally do or see the people you’d normally see or visit the places you’d normally go, it sucks. It’s easy to feel like fun, in general, has been cancelled. But there are ways to find joy and stay positive in your home despite the chaos going on outside. Here are some things I’ve seen others do that might inspire your own daily dose of fun: Host a virtual bingeathon and sync up with your friends so you all watch the show at the same time. (Tiger King, anyone?) Load up your Instagram feed with a bunch of feel-good accounts (for when you make time to look at your social during the day). For me, puppies, food, and beautiful travel destinations keep me happy. Music is a known mood lifter and focus booster. If you find yourself getting distracted by your surroundings or caught up by coronavirus-related news, turn on music that gets you moving — emotionally and physically. Getting some fresh air is another way to clear your mind and reset your mood. Just make sure to adhere to distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders when you do.
I know it’s not easy to stay positive right now, but you’re not just fighting to make it through this crisis in good health and in one piece. You have to think about how your mood is affecting your business. You can’t do much about the coronavirus’s impact on the economy (except to more closely manage your finances), but you can make choices now that put you in the best position to weather the storm and be ready to hit the ground running once the chaos clears. Featured image via Unsplash.