Avoiding freelance burnout in your career as a freelancer can be challenging while, at the same time, you are thinking of balancing your work life.

If you don’t set the right plans and methods to navigate your way through the space of getting jobs done for your clients, you will likely burn out.

Having the opportunity to set the flexibility of when and where you can work will always give you the leverage to choose what you do with other things in your life apart from freelancing.

Many freelance burnout causes are due to the inability to make sure things are set on the right track when you have the opportunity to harness the power of controlling what is within your means.

Truly, freelance burnout is real; no one can dispute that, especially after IPSE research has disclosed that up to 10% of freelancers took no time off last year, while 78% were working on a holiday.

As a result, freelancers can avoid freelance burnout when they manage the risk of burnout effectively and efficiently.

If you are a freelance writer or graphic designer, there is a high tendency that you must work harder and on longer hours to ensure you deliver the best and most timely results to your clients.

However, there are times that you will most likely not feel much interest or enthusiasm about your work due to freelance burnout, especially when your work is dependent on your income.

Going down memory lane, it is pertinent to state that the term “burnout” was first used in 1974 by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, who noted that occupational burnout is a known syndrome by the World Health Organisation.

It can strongly dislike work you have been enjoying before burnout.

Instead, it curtails productivity, mood swings, and physical problems, including headaches, neck pain, back pain, or indigestion.

Burnout has recently been on the rise for many freelancers,

even though it might have been identified donkey years ago.

We are now in an era whereby there are expectations of constant availability and productivity in one’s work.

All this has resulted in long work hours and a massive risk of being overwhelmed by email updates and regular checks, social media deliverables and awareness, unavoidable project or online meetings, and getting gigs or projects done for clients.

3 Symptoms of freelance burnout you will likely experience

Having a work-life balance and not experiencing freelance burnout can be one of the rare cases in many of the situations of freelancers out there.

Due to different situations, there is a high propensity that you may experience burnout in your freelance career, whether you are a graphic designer or a writer.

You have taken a lot of tasks more than ever, pay that is below standard (most especially if you are starting),

and sometimes you may have worked for free depending on the situation on the ground.

All would have accumulated to contribute to your stress, anxiousness, and despair.

If you don’t make a move to experience a positive change in beating the freelance burnout symptoms, your life can take a U-turn to a bad state of mind resulting in impaired mental and physical health.

It is normal to experience burnout in your career, as many freelancers have been through it as well;

they identified the symptoms, made concerted efforts towards defeating it, and went all out to find the solution to this secret but the mighty inner killer of losing interest in things that you always enjoy doing before now.

More often than not, you are likely to face stress and be overwhelmed by the pressures and demands of your freelancing work.

It is a career you have chosen and enjoyed (still enjoying),

and you won’t want to trade it for anything else.

And boom!

There is the solution staring you in the face when you have been able to identify the problems of the course of your freelance burnout that is keeping you uninterested in what you love doing as a freelance writer or graphics designer.

Well, for freelance burnout symptoms that many experiences, here are common ones that we can identify, ranging from physical, emotional, and behavioral signs.

1. Physical Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

– Sometimes, you will be feeble, drained, and exhausted more often than not, even after waking up from bed.

– There is the tendency you will experience Lowered immunity and frequent niggling illnesses

– You may witness frequent headaches, muscle pain, indigestion and stomach problems.

2. Emotional Signs and Symptoms of Burnout:

– There will be increased sense of self-doubt, fear of failure and imposter syndrome.

– You will feel more trapped, defeated, helpless, and hapless when minor problems or issues crop up.

– There will be rise in feelings of isolation and detachment.

– You will frequently experience lack of motivation.

3. Behavioural Signs and Symptoms of Burnout:

– Avoiding and withdrawing away from responsibilities.

– Increased procrastination and indulging in comforting distractions.

– Choosing more distance and isolation from others.

– Becoming more irritable and easily frustrated.

– Increasing your reliance on coping mechanisms, including food, alcohol, and drugs. Or other habits which are OK in moderation but become a problem when used to excess due to burnout.

– Late night procrastination, sleeping in, and avoiding work; significant and ongoing changes to your appetite and sleep habits.

5 Tips on How to Avoid Freelance Burnout

Experiencing tiredness, lack of motivation, working under pressure, and demands of delivering your work(s) or project(s) for clients can be stumbling blocks to your mental, physical, and career-wise progress.

You don’t need to be told by anyone that you are experiencing freelance burnout when it significantly impacts your work and life over time.

However, work-life balance can be seriously affected if you fail to take the right action and tackle the issue head-on, no matter whose ox is gored.

If you take a good look at the negative impact of how freelance burnout can ruin one within a short period,

you won’t want to give room for it, and you will always want to conquer it.

Here are 5 tips on how to avoid freelance burnout:

1. Take on projects that best suit your skill set

If you are a graphic designer or freelance writer,

there is a high likelihood that when you are just starting,

you will want to take on many projects as you can from clients to get as much money.

But the sad news is that you will likely run out of energy, be less motivated, and get tired of doing the same thing repeatedly.

This is akin to a short-term strategy used as a coping mechanism.

You can’t do too many things simultaneously and within a short period without getting burnout as a freelancer.

Work on a few projects that you can do yourself.

If you wish to outsource, ensure it is what won’t give you constant stress and unnecessary headaches.

Your skill set should determine the project you can take at a time while avoiding the situation you would have too many projects on your desk.

Take on a reasonable workload,

and don’t stress yourself about what shouldn’t be done by you when you should be relaxing and taking on the project(s) that best suit(s) you as a freelancer.

2. Change your environment

You can be in the same place, office, sitting on the same desk, chair, or room for days, months, or years.

You can be caught being in the same place and not being motivated due to your surroundings.

Why not try and work in a place different from your known environment.

If you are wont to a place, a shortage of energy and interest might set in.

Take your laptop, pen, book(s), jotter, etc.,

to another location for a breath of fresh air.

This singular step can widen your horizon and broaden your outlook by giving you the perspective you need for a long time.

As it is popularly said,

“Environment makes a man.”

If you are used to a surrounding where you are always in a place working that is in your room,

you can decide to create an office elsewhere to renew your interest more.

By doing so,

you’ll likely have to overcome freelance burnout with ease.

3. Set time limit to your days

Many freelancers set to work beyond the time limit they should be doing week in and week out.

That is one of the reasons they experience freelance burnout frequently.


you should work hard and be innovative to get your job done as no one will pay your bills on your behalf.

But it would help if you always worked within your set time.

It would be best to avoid overwork and too many workloads with little or no time away from your work.

Making your clients happy and getting the desired recommendations, eulogies and money will make you possess much of what you like,

but if you fail to set a time limit to your work rate, you will most likely burn out.

Don’t let your workload spill over to your time limit to the extent you become used to it.


you might have to work overtime to finish things and ensure you don’t have to return to them later.

Don’t make it a regular habit if you want to be a long-term freelancer who doesn’t want to experience freelance burnout.

4. Always attempt to rejig your schedule

One of the most appealing benefits of freelancing is having the volition to set the time you can work and deliver the project or job for your client.

Unlike those that are into the typical 9:00 am – 5:00 pm job who are under the beck and call of their gaffers.

As a freelancer,

you should work things out for yourself that best fit your purpose or schedule.

To avoid freelance burnout,

try to alter your plan and give room to try new things.

If you are a night crawler,

you can start to change your schedule to working during the day.

But you must have ensured you have the necessary resources and tools to get things started during the day.

Even freelance writers and graphic designers are accustomed to working at night due to pin-drop silence and to summon unprecedented creativity that sparks their output.

You can try to alter things during the day and see the beauty of what you are truly capable of doing.

Don’t allow freelance burnout to weigh you down.

5. Create more balance and flexibility for yourself

As a freelancer, you are always expected to deliver your work or project as and when due because you are already committed to it and have promised to do the job with utmost sincerity and attention.

However, you won’t want to fail your clients because the deliverables are set already.

In pursuing all this,

you will most likely wear out in the process of not striking a balance between your work and yourself.

You will tend to get the job done no matter how inconvenient it is for you at the expense of your health and mental strength.

At this juncture,

the hard truth is that you will have to create more balance and flexibility in your work and life goals.

Take the time to eat well, sleep, drink water, exercise, and spend quality time with your family and friends.

They all shape you into giving the right tone for your lovely work and life plans.

You don’t want to experience burnout issues in any stage of your life.

All what you will want to do is to balance things up and be flexible with your schedule.


It is never too late to defeat the hydra-headed monster of freelance burnout when you are experiencing its symptoms by admitting it and working towards it.

Tackling it one step at a time can be reliving and make a huge difference.

You can always overcome freelance burnout’s physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms as a freelancer, no matter your field of endeavor.

First admit you have a problem that needs to be tackled and you can overcome it.

Then, you will be on the look for the solution as it is likely that you aren’t the only one facing the challenge or have encountered it in the past.

Since you have identified the causes of your freelance burnout,

Then you will have to re-evaluate your goals and objectives by giving a different approach to your targets.

To cap it all, the most important thing is to know when to take a break and not be immersed in the volume of workloads in front of you.

Let your clients know when you will get their jobs delivered, work towards ensuring you are not faced with the challenges of freelance burnout,

and take a break when the need arises.

That’s how to beat and avoid freelance burnout in your career


Rufus S. is an author and blogger who writes about freelancing and career development for the Busy Earner blog. He is an expert on platforms like Upwork, LinkedIn, and Fiverr and shares practical tips for building a successful freelance career. Rufus is also passionate about helping busy earners manage their time and avoid burnout.


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