It’s gonna happen. That awful, stomach dropping feeling… you know what I’m talking about. Call it what you want, but anxiety, feeling anxious, it makes you feel pretty crap and it’s gonna happen from time to time, no doubt about it.

So the question is, how do you prepare yourself for this and what can you do to deal with this as quickly and as painlessly as possible?

When I first started out as a freelancer, my #1 anxiety was talking with clients, as in, talking on the phone with them. I’d happily reply to emails, chat to them on Skype or Gchat, but having to speak with them on the phone… I would avoid this at all costs.

And while not all clients will wanna chat on the phone, there are a large number that will, so overcoming this anxiety is top priority, particularly if you want to be successful.

The other things that would make me anxious (and still do, at times) included:

  • Putting together a proposal for a large client with a large potential payout
  • Managing outsourcers and subsequent deadlines
  • Pay day's rolling around and no payment in sight
  • Filing taxes!
  • Setting up a business structure

Do any of these cause your heart to race or that icky feeling in your tummy? That, my friends, is anxiety and here’s how we’re gonna deal with it!

5 Anxiety Busting Tips for Freelancers

Here’s my top five tips to deal with anxiety, particularly relating to freelancing, because that just has it’s own set of challenges, right?!

#1 Schedule calls first up

If you have clients that like to chat on the phone, then schedule those calls at the beginning of your work day. Get them out of the way. Think of this like ripping a sticking plaster off your arm — the faster you do it, the less pain you’ll feel… in theory anyway.

Make sure you’ve allowed yourself plenty of time to prep before the call and have a notepad handy to take notes and jot down any points you want to discuss as well.

The more you do this, the easier it will get, I promise.

#2 Create your own systems

If you’re worried about managing outsourcers and deadlines, create a system that works for you to manage all of this.

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Use a program like Freedcamp.com to keep track of your client work, deadlines and outsourcers
  • Keep track of your own to-do's in programs like Todoist.com or Wunderlist.com. Evernote.com is also a good option.
  • Colour-code your Google Calendar to keep track of outsourcers and deadlines
  • Always set deadlines with outsourcers 24-48 hours BEFORE the actual client deadline

For more tips on how to create your own system or manage your workload, check out the book I wrote that specifically shows you how you can do this: OFS Guide Series Book 4: “How to Setup and Structure Your Freelancing Business the Right Way”

#3 Use proposal templates

If you wanna minimise the amount of stress you feel in submitting proposals, create your own proposal templates so that you’re not always starting from scratch.

If you only provide one service, this is relatively easy to do, if you provide a few different services, then set up proposal templates for each service, so that you’re not fumbling around trying to remember what you did last time you submitted a proposal.

If you want to grab a copy of proposals I’ve used in the past, you can pick them up here and here (no opt-in required!).

#4 Use positive affirmations

Now, I’m not going all hippy on you, but what you read and consume on a daily basis will definitely impact how you feel about what you do. So if you struggle to start your day out on a positive note, print off positive sayings and quotes and add them to your office walls, so that you’re surrounded.

Positive affirmations for dealing with freelancing anxiety

Here are some that directly deal with anxiety:

#5 Breath!

One of the biggest things you can do to reduce your anxiety is to just stop, take a breath and refocus. Stop thinking a million miles an hour, stop worrying about your next call, stop worrying about your to-do list. Just stop.

Every time that I've ever felt really anxious, just physically stopping what I' doing and taking a deep breath instantly eases the stress and allows me to think clearly and decide my next step.

I encourage you to try this the next time you're feeling anxious and note just how quickly you're then able to deal with everything on your plate, without feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

I'd love to hear how you deal with feeling anxious as a freelancer. Do you have any tips you'd like to share with the community? Leave your comments below!

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Lise Cartwright
Lise Cartwright

Founder of Hustle & Groove and your creative business strategist. If you want to get notified of new posts just like the ones you see here, then make sure you join the awesome H & G tribe — Join Now!

    7 replies to "Tips for Dealing With Anxiety as a Freelancer"

    • Sarah

      I struggle frequently with anxiety and freelancing to the point where it hinders me actually doing jobs… driving really far to work around new people when I don’t have enough confidence to do the job is just one big NO to me.

    • Lise Cartwright

      Thanks for your comment Sarah, and agree, if you had to drive really far to work around a new person, this doesn’t make sense at all if you’re not confident in doing the job. Which is why I started working online in the first place and dealing with clients via sites like Upwork.com and Elance.com – starting with small jobs and working my way up to larger ones as my confidence grew.

    • Emma @ Emmawritenow

      Yes, yes, yes!! Proposal templates are a HUGE time (and stress) saver. Nowadays I also know better than to schedule a client call for late in the evening, otherwise, I’m a total wreck during the day.

      • Lise Cartwright

        Right Emma?! And I hear you re client calls in the evening… blah!!

    • Melissa Phillips

      This post is still so relevant, even at five years old. Thank you so much for the template, Lisa! Writing proposals/cover letters is one of my least favorite parts of submitting information for work.

      Question(s): Upwork now gives me extreme anxiety because it didn’t notify me of a message and I missed an important job. Ever since then, I’ve hesitated to use it. Have you ever had this issue? How do you balance not constantly checking applications out of fear you missed something?

      • Melissa Phillips

        ***Lise, my apologies- I didn’t notice until after I posted.

      • Lise Cartwright

        Hey Melissa, I’m glad you found it helpful. I’m not a huge fan of Upwork as much now but I would simply check my Upwork account twice a day to make sure I didn’t miss any messages 🙂

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