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Why the Micro-Gig Economy is Great for Creative Freelancers

Why the Micro-Gig Economy is Great for Creative Freelancers

For those fresh out of college, finding a job may seem like an uphill battle. With so much work being shipped overseas and minimum wage at a shockingly low rate, many folks become discouraged in their quest to find work.

At the same time, having a proper 9-5 job isn’t for everyone. Some people were not designed to work set hours on someone else’s watch. Today, you don’t have to go out and apply for jobs or work shifts that you hate just to get by. Instead, technology has made it possible for you to do exactly what you enjoy doing, during the hours you set. The best part? This can be done from the freedom of your own home or wherever else an Internet connection can connect you to the world.

If you are wondering if freelancing is for you, check out this list of ways that freelancing can set you free.

Take Advantage of the Micro-Gig Economy

The micro-gig economy allows freelancers to fulfill small projects outsourced by companies big and small. Individually, these jobs aren’t going to make you rich, but they do allow you to try out new skills and pick and choose the tasks you want to do. Think of this economy as a piece rate economy with the freedom to choose the pieces you want to complete. Some of these tasks are so simple that they are perfect for the days when your head just isn’t in the game, but you know you need to earn some cash. If you want to give freelancing a try, get involved with the micro-gig economy to test the waters. It doesn’t involve a serious commitment, and it allows you to make a bit of extra cash while you make the transition from working outside the home to the freelance lifestyle. This economy is also something that isn’t going away, so you can turn to it whenever you need a few extra bucks because you have too much month left at the end of your paycheck.

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Utilize Multiple Platform Options

Maybe you don’t want to be locked into just one platform. Not only is that okay, but it’s also actually for the best. Just like any other business, those who hire freelancers have the potential to have times when work is slow. By combining platforms so that you always have options to choose from, you also have a means by which to maintain your weekly financial goals because you can always turn to another site when your main one isn’t as busy as usual. And, maybe it’s time to face the fact that creative freelancers tend to be the kind of people who are easily bored, which is one reason they have little or no interest in a typical job outside the home. By using multiple platforms, it’s easy to change things up when the work starts to feel a little too routine for your creative spirit.

Avoid the Office by Working Remotely

Every freelancer has their own favorite perk about freelancing. For those who feel less than comfortable in a cubicle or surrounded by other people – and the drama that tends to come with them – the ability to work at home is the ultimate perk. You’ll enjoy the wardrobe change as well. Not only do you never have to try and find the perfect power-tie/subtle-tone combination again, but you also may not even have to change out of your pajamas for the day, ever.

Being able to put on a nice top for a Skype meeting while wearing nothing else but your underwear is a truly liberating feeling. You’ll wonder how you ever got by dressing up to go to the office.

Choose Your Location

Maybe you don’t want to work at home. Maybe you don’t even want to be at home. That’s fine too because no one gets to tell you where you have to work. If you have a laptop, there is no limit to where you can work. In fact, you can even do freelance work that is specific to travel, so your office location changes every week or month. Conversely, you can choose to enjoy the same corner in your favorite restaurant every day if you like. Just make sure they have free Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to pay an added fee to get online to do your work.

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Make Your Own Schedule

How bad do you hate Mondays? Does a sunny day make you angry as you walk into the office knowing it will be dark when you leave in the evening? No problem, because you don’t have to work on Mondays if you don’t want to. Call Mondays the extra day to recuperate from the weekend and start your work week on Tuesday if you want. Set your alarm for noon if you love to sleep late, because as long as you meet your deadlines, your clients won’t care if you are working long into the wee hours of the morning, or starting when the sun comes up.

Leaving the 9-5 routine and working to fulfill objectives is a breath of fresh air and will leave you feeling free as a bird. The 9-5 can be filled with small pauses and indecisive moments where you don’t know what you should be doing. Running your own business as a freelancer keeps you on your toes because you are in charge of time management because everything comes down to meeting deadlines.

Increase Your Salary

This element of freelance work is probably the one that freelancers struggle with the most. It follows a predetermined path that creative people seem to follow. The path is pretty simple to understand, and once you get over some of the humps in the beginning it will get easier to navigate.

Creative freelancers decide on the specific skill they want to use. Then, they lovingly craft that idea or skill and send it off to a potential client. Then, the doubt sets in. “Is it good enough? No, it’s garbage. Why did I send that?” Then the payment and praise arrive and the freelancer eventually starts to wonder why they didn’t set a higher rate. The good news is that you can set whatever rates you want as long as they are realistic. You might hesitate to raise your rates because you fear the risk of losing the client, but the worst thing they can do is refuse to comply and offer to maintain the existing rate. Chances are, if you have been reliable and offer quality work, they are simply going to accept the new rate and move forward.

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Enjoy Time with Family

If your children are young enough to be in daycare, you know what a significant portion of your salary you might have to shell out just to be able to get to work. If they are in school, you’ve probably gotten “the look” from the boss on more than one occasion when you had to run to the school or stay home to tend to a sick child. None of these factors have to be dealt with when you freelance. You can choose to have your children there with you while you work, and in some cases, their antics might even help you come up with creative ideas.

In any case, you will never have to smile through yet another riveting story about how your boss’s perfect child did yet another amazing thing or every single step of their potty training experience. Instead, you can enjoy spending time with your own children and parenting them the way you always wanted to.

Choose Your Social Situations

When you work at a specific location, there aren’t just requirements concerning how you perform, dress, and act at work. Usually, there are also social requirements. Maybe your boss thinks you can’t be an accountant without joining the corporate bowling team. Maybe you just hate the fact that once a year you have to act like you really want to celebrate Christmas with the people you have to spend five days a week with already. When it comes to freelancing, limiting your social interactions is as easy as clicking the little X at the top right corner of your tab. That’s it. You can interact with colleagues through social networking platforms, and you can even exchange valuable advice, but when you are ready to enjoy a complete lack of interaction, you just close the tab.

Follow Your Dreams

Maybe you are looking to write articles for a living. Perhaps you want to be a professional voice over actor. There are plenty of sites out there that cater to specific areas, while sites like Upwork, Bunny Inc., and Fiverr cover multiple platforms that allow creative freelancers to pursue their passions.

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Being a freelancer means that you have the freedom to do the work you want to do and when you want to do it. This kind of freedom can become addictive so that you soon start to look at other areas of your life where you need to break free. You start to remember all those dreams you had, dreams that had to be put aside so you could adhere to the demands of your job outside the home. Pretty soon, you start to question why those dreams are still sitting to the side when they should be part of your overall plan and experience.

Freelancing isn’t for everyone. It requires self-discipline and the ability to hold yourself to a higher standard when it comes to your work performance. Even so, those who choose to take a trip down this road usually don’t look back. Instead, they tend to wonder why they wasted so much time doing anything else. This is when you find out what it really means to “be anything you want to be when you grow up.”

Being what you want to be is a fantastic feeling. The only thing that will stop you from achieving this wonderful lifestyle is fear. If you have a creative mind and the desire to break free from the ordinary, give part-time freelancing a shot and see where it goes. The worst case scenario is that it doesn’t work out and you make a few extra bucks learning this lesson. The best case? You become your own boss and your life changes forever. Those are some wonderful odds.

Featured photo credit: Writer in the park via pixabay.com

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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