When my father died (this was years and years before I became a freelancer), my boss at my full-time job pulled me aside and told me to feel free to take a walk or a break during the day if I needed to. My coworkers let me walk around as a zombie for a while. But what do you do when something awful happens in your life and you work for yourself?
1. Cut yourself some slack
You just lost your mom, your grandmother, your boyfriend, your parrot, whatever. Give yourself a little time to grieve or be sad. Maybe you managed to edit 20 pages the first day you’re back to work after strife, but you’re used to editing 40. Be proud of yourself for getting any work done at all.
2. Get out of bed every morning
You can’t lose your shit completely or you will not have enough money to pay your rent and/or mortgage and whatever personal strife you’re dealing with will be worse. It’s better to be grieving and housed than grieving and homeless. Keep the habit of going to work. Even if you cry at your computer for six hours do at least one hour of work, that’s a start.
3. Call in reinforcements
Remember when you held your friend’s hand as she cried through her divorce? Payback time. Make her take you out to lunch. Make your sister talk to you at the dark hour of the soul, otherwise known as 3:30, when it looks like the work day will never end. Ask for what you need. You can pay back by being an awesome friend later on.
4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Admit that you’re not at your pre-strife strength. Ten pages an hour is laughable when you spend three-quarters of the hour dialing your ex’s number and hanging up before he/she answers. So for god’s sake, don’t take on more work than you can handle. Be realistic. Do as little work as possible (but see step 2) until you are back on your feet.
5. Double-check your work
What with calling your ex’s new person with death threats you might not be quite as meticulous as you usually are. Double-check your work. Take one more pass if you think you need it. You don’t want to lose clients as well as your three-pound, nineteen-year-old cat.