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7 ways to reward yourself as a freelancer

by Rachel Smith
09 August 2019

I’m hearing the word ‘burnout’ a lot lately. Heck, I even took two weeks off recently and the first article I had when I was due back on deck was about the WHO recognising burnout as an occupational syndrome (oh the irony).

Thing is, you often don’t have the luxury to chill when you’re freelance. You need to power on, make hay while the sun shines etc. So we put the question to our FB Gold group – what ways do you reward yourself as a freelancer when the going gets tough? How DO you power through those deadlines? Here’s what they said.

1. A episode of your favourite show

Freelancer Carrie Hutchinson is all about the TV rewards. “I do this thing sometimes where I tell myself, ‘If you can get another 1500 words written by lunchtime, you can watch an episode of XYZ while you have your sandwich.’ It’s self-bribery and it actually works. Really, I am a three-year-old in a 40-something body,” jokes Hutchinson.

Journalist Helen Hawkes agrees. “I work through lunch so I can take a sanity break with a hot, sweet cup of coffee in front of Judge Judy from 3-3.30pm!”

2. A walk, a bar of chocolate… or both

Lynne Testoni’s post-work rewards are super virtuous. “If I have a good and productive morning I like to reward myself with a long walk with the dog.”

Freelancer Alison Bone does the same, plus the sweet stuff. “I sometimes let myself go for a walk on the beach as a reward for being productive .. and usually buy chocolate on the way home which gives me the buzz I need to get back to work,” she reveals.

And for Sharon Smith? It’s just chocolate. “Recently I was struggling through a job that I just couldn’t get my head around. I NEEDED to get it done so I bought myself a Kit-Kat to eat when I was complete!”

3. A scroll through social media

Slightly addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Etsy, Ebay, Pinterest, etc? Make that aimless scrolling a reward for getting some work done rather than a way to procrastinate, says freelancer Claire Harris.

“A while ago (before baby) I figured out where my fun-on-computer time was going down the online rabbit hole,” she admits, “so I would only let myself do that stuff after completing my daily and weekly goals.”

4. A bit of pampering

Zoe Williams takes a leaf out of Hutchinson’s book. “I write to do lists every day, and when I get a certain amount through that list, I add something nice into the list. So if I say, write and send all of my invoices, send off my pitches for the day, do an interview and write 500 words of content, I reward myself with either an episode of a show on Netflix, or I game,” says Zoe.

“I’m going to add a new reward in though – if I finish x amount of articles a week, I can treat myself with a mani pedi!”

5. Guilt-free online shopping

For freelancer Emma Lovell, shopping is the ticket. “I used to reward myself during a very difficult contract with online purchases. Each pay check (monthly) I was allowed to buy one item from my fave shop at the time, Black Milk Clothing,” she says.

“They’re $100 a pop for a pair of leggings but I bloody love them. I figured if I was earning good money and suffering through it, I may as well get a reward. It helped me keep going through the next month. To date I have quite a collection: unicorns, mermaids, skeletons and chameleons!”

6. A trip to IKEA

Is IKEA your guilty pleasure? Love nothing more than an aimless browse while you contemplate a flatpack purchase or three? For freelancer Stacey King, having the reward in sight has proven a unique way to motivate herself to complete that to-do list.

“Last week I set up my laptop in the IKEA cafeteria. I wasn’t allowed to browse until I had finished my to-do list. It worked! The $1.50 refillable drinks was also a bonus!” she says.

7. Cup of tea, trip to the loo, hanging out the washing.

Sometimes, snatching those small domestic moments are a reward in itself – at least for PR and journalist Ellen Hill. “I reward myself all the time – cup of tea, trip to the loo, hanging the washing, walk around the block,” she says.

“I still see squirrels all day long though which drives my hubby and biz/office mate nuts (he can sit at his desk literally all day and all night until the job’s done).”

What ways do you reward yourself as a freelancer? We’d love to hear in the comments.

Rachel Smith
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Rachel Smith

As a kid, Rachel used to carry around a little suitcase of pens and paper so she could stop and write stories whenever inspiration struck. These days, she writes for a living, in between running the show at Rachel's List. Some of you may actually believe she looks like a megaphone in real life, but it's not the case. Honest.
Rachel Smith
Find us!

2 responses on "7 ways to reward yourself as a freelancer"

  1. Gosh, like Ellen Hill, I’m constantly giving myself little breaks – and big breaks! Ideas come when I’m doing other things, so jumping around to music turned up full ball in the kitchen, taking a hot bath or going for a wander are all breaks, but really do help me get some work done. Proper rewards are for when I actually get paid (and they definitely involve spending money, however little.) I wonder whether those of us who freelance are addicted to those regular doses of pleasure – whether it’s the thrill of getting something commissioned, or snacking every couple of hours.

  2. Rachel Smith says:

    I never thought about it like that before, Mariella, but I reckon you’re onto something – we need to motivate ourselves somehow, as no one else is going to do it for us. So maybe we do become addicted to that dopamine rush of little pleasures we allow ourselves!? Funny 🙂

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