I began freelancing full time in January 2017. Every day since has been dedicated to The Grind, “making that money.” Then a funny thing happened halfway through the year: I made more money in one month than I’d made in the entire first quarter of the year. Without financial demise looming over me, I felt my drive to hustle dwindle. I was no longer driven by necessity. Suddenly, wearing my pajamas past dinnertime seemed like a perfectly legitimate way to live my life. I responded to emails slower. I didn’t put any energy toward attracting new clients. I knew this phase couldn’t last, and that it was in my best interest to be proactive. Instead of coasting when times are good, I got to work finding things to do with my free time that would keep my career moving forward.
1. Cut the boring.
When I first started freelancing, I said yes to anything that paid. But after I became more established and making better rates, I found that some of these low-paying or uninteresting assignments were a complete slog to get through and were making me miserable. Now was the time to start saying no and closing out projects I wasn’t passionate about.
Even if you aren’t a freelancer, you can cut the boring from your list of responsibilities. If there’s a weekly networking series you no longer find beneficial, take back your Tuesday nights. Leveled up in your career? Talk to your boss about offloading some of your more entry-level tasks to others.
2. Check off stagnating to-do’s.
OK, when I was legitimately busy, it made sense for me to have months of mileage that I needed to log for tax purposes. But right now when I have time to binge-watch an entire Netflix series in single day? No excuses. It was time to knock out tedious admin tasks and things that were nice but not necessary like sending out thank-you cards to clients and mentors.
For you, this could mean you finally have the time to start carrying your weight at that nonprofit you’ve been listing on your resume for years. Maybe even finally dusting off that resume and LinkedIn, while you’re at it. Cleaning out your home office, canceling memberships you no longer use and getting your inbox down to zero would also be great uses of your newfound free time.
In March, I bought a course to step up my knowledge. Then I got so busy I never actually completed the course. What better time to knock out those classes? Not only do I have time to learn something new, I also have time to implement that new knowledge to level up my career. This information will hopefully make it possible for me to achieve my next set of goals.
You’ve got this. Sit down, look at your goals and think about what’s possible beyond them. Set new goals.
If you’re coasting, it’s probably time for you to revisit your goals, too. It’s not time to let your career plateau. When you’ve accomplished the things you never thought were possible, it can be scary to ask, What’s next? You’ve got this. Sit down, look at your goals and think about what’s possible beyond them. Set new goals. You can be like me and take a course to put you on the path of achieving those goals, seek out someone who’s a rock star in your field and figure out how they did it, or it could be time to start plotting your course for success in a different arena. It’s up to you. Just remember, not even the sky is the limit.
OK, let’s be honest, I didn’t fill up all of my free hours getting back on my hustle. These past few months I’d been doing early mornings and late nights to get my freelance business off the ground. That’s just not sustainable if you also want to be healthy and happy.
Although I found ways to stay productive, I also took advantage of some much needed downtime. In our culture, it can be easy to be caught up in the busy for busy’s sake cycle, or to allow others to make you feel less than for kicking your feet up sometimes. By spending time with friends and family that I care about, and having new experiences, I feel more inspired and energetic about my work.
Remain cognizant of how you spend your time. Do what you can to maximize it. Whether that means setting yourself up for success for the future or fully committing to relaxing and decompressing.
If you have the time, take it. If you’ve wanted to sign up for a softball league or have been skipping out on one too many game nights, you no longer have a reason not to have a good time. Are you that person who believes you can survive on five hours of sleep? Wait until you see what eight hours can do for you. You’re going to feel like a new person after just a week.
Just remember, good times won’t last forever. If you don’t want your days to slip by without accomplishing anything, remain cognizant of how you spend your time. Do what you can to maximize it. Whether that means setting yourself up for success for the future or fully committing to relaxing and decompressing.
Related: 4 Ways to Maintain Momentum