Guest Post: Work Less, Earn More & Get a Life

I’m honored to share a guest post with you today from the wonderful Jennifer Mattern on how to work less, earn more, and get a life beyond freelancing. Today’s post covers phases one: the workaholic and phase two: exhaustion. Stay tuned for Friday’s post — Phase three: Taking control.

Jennifer Mattern is a freelance business writer and professional blogger who writes about freelance writing, social media, indie publishing, and small business. She also publishes e-books for freelance writers and is scheduled to publish her first nonfiction book, The Query-Free Freelancer, next year. Jennifer Mattern is behind All Freelance Writing, ProBusiness Writer, and Social Implications. Check out her sites — the lady knows her stuff.

How to Work Less, Earn More and Get a Life Beyond Freelancing

Do you ever feel like you work too hard and still don’t achieve that freelance writing success you long for? Do you work late regularly, putting in sixty or more hours a week, and still struggle? There are better options. You don’t have to work your fingers to the bone, clickity-clacking away at the keyboard all day to make a living as a freelance writer. You can find a better balance, making time not only for work but for family, friends and play.

Let me share a story with you — how I personally went from being a workaholic writer to one who can earn a full-time living with part-time hours, accomplish more now than I did at sixty or more hours per week, and have plenty of time left over to enjoy life, pursue hobbies, and spend more time with loved ones.

Phase One: The Workaholic

Early in my self-employed career I was insane. It was a rare occasion that I wasn’t working. I could work from the time I rolled out of bed until it was time to crawl back in some days. On others I’d fall asleep right at my desk.

A part of me thought that was normal. After all, you have to sink in all that time up front if you want things to get easier later, right? I’m not going to lie and tell you that it didn’t pay off. But what I can say is that the benefits didn’t outweigh the cost. I dropped hobbies I used to be passionate about. I rarely had time to see friends. I never traveled to visit places I wanted to see. I didn’t just go out and enjoy life. And it was passing me by, and I didn’t have enough to show for it that I can tell you it was worth it.

I know this isn’t terribly uncommon for new business owners of any variety, including freelance writers. And when you have no platform or prospects yet, it does make sense to put in some extra sweat equity early on. But I learned the hard way that it’s easy to get caught up in the “it’ll all work out later” mindset, and in turn we become workaholics rather than highly productive independent professionals.

Phase Two: Exhaustion

Being “on” all the time eventually takes its toll, and it definitely did for me. I became perpetually exhausted. I still plugged away at the keyboard. I still launched new sites. I still landed new clients. I still got through the days, making a living doing what I loved. But did I really love this lifestyle? I found myself questioning that.

I was mentally drained. I could get by on the sheer habit of it all. But I didn’t enjoy my work as much as I used to. The business still grew, but that growth began to slow down. One day I got to the point where I realized I didn’t want to do this anymore — not that I didn’t want to work for myself, but that I didn’t want to feel like this work I was supposed to love was draining the life out of me. I knew there had to be a better way, and being stubborn as I am I set my mind to finding it.

(Phase Three: Taking Control will be posted Friday, so be sure to check back then!)

[Image credit: flickr user Kelven255]

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