Robyn Thekiso believes downtime should not be something we stress about. She advocates using those quiet periods to do something constructive.
Most independent consultants value the flexibility that comes with dictating their work hours. It’s one of the popular reasons cited for opting to freelance in the 2017/2018 SA Freelance Media Industry & Rates Report. Sounds incredibly empowering, but there’s a downside. Your work schedule is prone to troughs and peaks.
I’m having some downtime at the moment; waiting for several quotes to be approved and/or feedback on work already submitted. I may be free of bureaucracy, but my clients aren’t. The truth is that if all the work dropped on my desk tomorrow, I’d be having a panic attack, wondering how I’d get through it all on deadline.
It’s been a few days and I’ve realised that I will either continue to worry myself into inaction or I can use the time productively. This is how I’m using the slump to create my ideal lifestyle.
Downtime is focus time
We always complain that we can never ‘stop to smell the roses’. Downtime is freelancing’s way of sending one pause moments. Opportunities to clear the confusion haze, jump off the rollercoaster and take stock of where you are. For me, I’ve realised that I want to look at alternative channels for my writing.
Focus is simply the art of paying attention. This is giving me time to strategise and reach out to individuals and platforms that I think can benefit from some of my passion projects. It also gives me a sense of achievement; I no longer feel as though I’m wiling away my time.
Downtime is relaxing time
Have you ever noticed how you slink into a routine that emulates ‘busyness’? I don’t have to chase tight deadlines that keep me in my office through the night, but I still find that I’m sleeping after 23:00, close to midnight. What am I doing? Finding all sorts of interesting things to read and comment on online.
I recently read an article with John Sanei, author of Magnetize, in print by the way, where he said: “Nothing good happens after nine. You eat bad food. Watch bad TV”. I had a light-bulb moment. That’s always when things go south for me. My junk food binges only happen at night.
My resolution is to try my best to stay out of the office after dinner and to get to bed earlier. Unless it’s absolutely necessary … like someone’s paying me to do something. The plus is that I get up more refreshed in the morning and can exercise.
Downtime is admin time
Yes. Admin is a swear word to many freelancers, but it has to be done. The simple act of clearing my inbox gives me some satisfaction and does feel like work. I’ve been delaying clearing my desk of everything and anything that cannot immediately find a home and eventually lands on a pile to my left. There are also my expenses that need to be collated into the beautiful spreadsheet that my accountant so lovingly created.
Downtime gives an opportunity is to review profiles, new business presentations, online social media accounts, basically anything that will have a positive impact on your ability to thrive when the work snowfall returns. And it will return.
So, if you, like me, get yourself into a tailspin once the workload slows down, take a few deep breathes, reach for your beverage of choice and take it easy. For once.
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