Working at home came to me just when I needed it the most. And from almost a year now, I have done all-around Virtual Assistant (VA) tasks as well as Technical Support, WordPress Management, Social Media Management, and Project Management. I even managed to create an excel Macro for a client. And with all of these, was there a time that I get exhausted?
Some of you might say, “Why would I?”.
Yeah, but hey! I forgot to tell you the most crucial part of my story. I am a breastfeeding mom to my 6-month old baby, I need to feed and bathe my 24 months old toddler. And oh! Should I mention that both of them poop at least 3 times a day?
On top of that, I still have to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry — just name that household chore and I got it covered!
But don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I consider all these as blessings from God.
You know, I may have not planned all these. But, He did.
It was just a year ago when I resigned from my corporate life while I’m pregnant with my second born. The plan was to rest while applying for a job in government agencies. However, things turned 360 degrees when I discovered online freelancing. I knew it was God leading me to enroll in the VA Bootcamp online course, and so I did.
Then it just happened — the Virtual Magic began.
Fast forward to today, I have now 4 clients, I’m juggling my way through success, and I’m working on my 6-digit goal.
Well, it wasn’t really a smooth ride to where I am now. It was more of a roller coaster kind of ride, and to tell you the truth, I almost QUIT FREELANCING!
It was like I just woke up one morning and found myself asking my client to end our contract.
Too bad, it was too late for me to recognize the signs. It also took me a month to identify what triggered my burnout which turned out to be my workload, job expectations, work-life imbalance, and lack of social support.
But before going to details on how I got free from all these, let us first answer this question, “What is burnout and how do we end up getting it?”
According to Mayo Clinic, Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.
Ironically, some research suggests that many people who experience symptoms of job burnout don't believe that their jobs are the main cause. Meanwhile, some experts think other conditions, like depression, are behind it.
But whatever the cause is, job burnout can affect your physical and mental health, and as freelancers, we wouldn’t want to ruin this great opportunity of working from home by not being able to free ourselves from this roadblock, right?
So, how was I able to get my life back into balance?
Let me share with you a few of the most effective ways here.
1. Remember Your Biggest Whys
Some online freelancers forget why they are doing what they are doing.
As for me, I do it for my babies. I want to breastfeed my babies, cook for them, influence them, nurture them, and have time with them.
I am also doing this to help my husband pay the bills, especially that we have a monthly mortgage for our car, plus we have a house to build and travel goals to pursue.
As you can notice, your “Big Why” may be a life purpose, a goal or vision that you are passionate about. It can also simply be an important need. Without a “Big Why” we eventually lose motivation to do the work necessary to accomplish great things. Having no sense of accomplishment and having lack of satisfaction is already a sign of burnout. And that’s exactly what I felt back then when I asked my client to end our contract.
2. Set Your Working Hours
This will really help you set that routine your body clock will follow. Not only that, if you are a mother like me, having this established routine can definitely help you manage those, eating time, bathing time, playing sessions, siestas and all, with ease.
3. Choose the Best Working Environment
Know what works best for you. Identify your personality.
Maybe you’d want to be a digital nomad who loves to travel here and there, or perhaps you are the type who wants a quiet place. Whatever it is, go and have that for yourself. As long as you are of less distraction and you’re delivering results your clients want, there should be no problem.
As for me, I’d go for the latter. A pink-painted room, and power music in the background, then I’m already good to go with my deadlines. Less distraction means you are more productive which also means less or no stress with deadlines. Thus, no trigger for burnout.
4. Take Plenty of Breaks
Realizing that having no breaks contributed to my recently concluded burnout, I’m now making sure that I pause for work occasionally.
What do I do?
Most of the time, I just go straight to my babies and husband so I can shower them with hugs and kisses. Sometimes, I just head outside the house and feel that fresh air for a while. I even remember this one particular day when I tried to catch that falling rain by hand. Then, I asked myself “Will I be able to do these things in a corporate setting?” Knowing the answer to my question, I just, thanked God that I was already out of the rat race.
So, take breaks! It will do wonders.
5. Do that Exercise Please!
I know, you have been planning it, and so do I! I usually tell myself that I’m going to exercise later, tomorrow morning, or after my baby sleeps, and guess what? I never ended up doing it! So, my advice is to just do it now. We better get those muscles and bones moving and have that heart beats faster once in a while. Exercise relieves depression, anxiety, stress and (works for me) as an appetite suppressant.
6. Learn to Manage Stress or Criticisms Positively
“Even the best jobs can cause stress and burnout”. So let's manage these triggers well by dealing with criticisms positively. One way is attacking the issue and not the person.
It also helps a lot if you’ll get to know the root cause of that stress. “Is it your workload?” If so, then it’s something that you may discuss with your client.
I believe that the less stress you are, the lower the chance for you to get burned out.
7. Outsource Tasks that Causes You Burnout
That’s right! You can even hire your own Virtual Assistant. Pinky Anicete said it well in her blog, “How to be an Organized Freelancer”, that as you become more and more experienced in freelancing, you’ll see that some things become so repetitive and tedious for you. If this is happening to you right now, it’s probably time to delegate.
Well, I haven't tried outsourcing work-at-home jobs yet but I know someone who does and it would be a great relief. But I do practice delegation for our household chores though. I am so grateful that we have a working student with us who spares me a hand whenever I need it.
For more insights on how freelancing mommies deal with household chores, you can check out these blog posts Work-Life Ninja Moves for WAHMs and 5 Mommy Hacks You Should Know to Freelance with Ease by Anna Soriano and Mahar Pedral, respectively.
8. Create a Circle of Support System
No man is an island. Even if you have your kids and husband supporting you, it is a different thing if you have a group of like-minded people doing the same job as you are, struggling with the same problems as you are, or sharing those simple wins that you have.
For us, virtual workers, we should establish our support system by joining Facebook groups like Freelancers in the Philippines, Upwork Philippines, and a whole lot more. You can even look for groups that are really into the niche you have where you can rant, ask, celebrate and even gain friends for keeps. Alone you can go fast, but together we can go far.
9. Work With a Greater Purpose in Mind
It's easy to just work and work and just get that money coming in. But along the way, you might get discouraged and burned out. However, with a greater purpose in mind, you understand that whatever you do brings success to your client’s goals and, at the same time, provide food for your family as well. Your clients' success is also your success.
10. Pray. Meditate.
This the best tool above all. Jesus already taught us how to pray and it is up to us to say those prayers and pour to God everything that we are feeling. Tell God how you feel.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30′
Whether you recognize the warning signs of impending burnout or you’re already past the breaking point, trying to push through the exhaustion and continuing as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage. Now is the time to pause and change direction by learning how you can help yourself overcome burnout and feel healthy and positive again.
Like, what I have mentioned, even the best and ideal jobs leads to burn out, so, it is really very essential to know the triggers, the signs, and the countermeasures. What worked for me may not work for you, so you can refer to these tips and get ideas.
And last piece of advice from me, someone who broke free from burnout would be this.
“Your freelancing journey will never be easy, but it will always be worth it – it is worth our hard work, time, talent, and treasure. So, just go for it!”
Want a Freelancing Course with a support team to help you get over burnout and guide you in your freelancing journey? Get started now by signing up to the VA BOOTCAMP COURSE here.
Ivy is currently a Technical Support Specialist, WordPress & Kajabi Website Manager, Social Media Strategist, and a Virtual Assistant. She is a proud mommy of two, a 2-year-old baby girl and a 6-month-old baby boy, raising her kids with her ever-supportive and loving husband. She is a true believer that she can do all things through Christ who strengthens her.