4 Tips for Productive Downtime

Most freelancers would agree that one of the greatest things about the freelancing lifestyle is the ability to take off as much time as you need to between projects. Or at least, that’s the going theory. The reality is that sometimes, that time off may not always be voluntary. Freelancing is almost always feast and famine — sometimes you’ve got way too much work and other times, you’ve got none at all.


Or don’t you?


One of the greatest things about freelancing is being your own boss and sometimes that means giving yourself work when you need to. Aside from setting aside time to looking for your next client or gig, here’s four things that you could do to help you build your business even when you’re not technically “working”.


Work on a side project

A good side project is a must-have for all freelancers, something you go to as a break from your work but still keeps your work skills fresh. Creative types may have things like the forever work-in-progress — paintings, drawings, novels, etc. Or maybe you have a hobby that you like to explore on a non-professional basis like photography or cooking.



Volunteering for a good cause is a great way to give back to the community while keeping your skill sets sharp between paid gigs. It can also be a great opportunity to network. You get to show off your skills as well as help an organization that needs it. If you’re a writer, you may volunteer some time writing for an organization that you’re a part of. If you’re a website designer, you might update a website for that organization. The possibilities are endless.


Learn a new skill

When you’re busy, you hardly have the time to breathe, let alone learn something new. But during slow periods, you've got the time so take advantage of it by learning something new. Signing up for semester classes may not be able to work in your freelancing schedule but self-paced online learning alternatives may offer a solution. For example, investing in something like Lynda is a great backup enrichment plan.



When you’re busy, you may not always have the time to reach out, chat or talk to other folks, either other freelancing colleagues or potential. Be sociable on Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, forums, etc. Go out and attend networking mixers with other freelancers or  small businesses that might be in need of your services.



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