Having a downtime? Don’t freak out. Do something!


As freelancers, one of the things we dread the most is not having work, right? However, all of us have already had some unwanted time off, still have and will keep having. It’s the normal flow in freelancing, there’s no escape. We cannot predict nor prevent it, only learn how to best make use of it – without freaking out. 😉

When I started out, I used to work every single day – including weekends and holidays – almost around the clock (I used to sleep only about 3 to 4 hours a night, when I slept). So downtimes were actually really welcome back then. They meant sleeping. Since nowadays I have a normal work life, i.e. working only during business hours, rarely more than that, I have to make great use of the available time I have.

The subject has come up to me because I’m currently facing some downtime myself. Yesterday, a client cancelled a project last minute and I had no other project scheduled after that. I already had some tasks scheduled to be done “sometime”, so it was just perfect! Yesterday, I made some calls to make doctor appointments (finally!), I e-mailed clients/colleagues/friends whose addresses I did not have in order to ask them to provide it and also did some accounting. Today, I wrote this post, booked a couple of bus tickets, organized some drawers and sent some e-mails. And the time was not enough to do everything I needed to do.

Apart from our regular to-dos, something I came up with for downtimes is scheduling future blog posts. I know some people already do that, but I don’t. I usually write/post them in the same day. And we all know this takes a lot of time, even though it’s a guest post. Therefore, I could save a lot of time for the future.

Doing some accounting, organizing the office, organizing the files in the computer, brainstorming ideas for everything, contacting prospects/clients/ex-clients, updating the CV and updating your social media information are only some of the things we all already know we can do on our free times. Now it’s up to you to find out what other things you could be doing to make better use of every second you have during your business hours when you suddenly find your schedule free.

As to the part of freaking out, or at least worrying a bit, about not having work, I guess we’ll always feel that. It’s natural instinct. Even though we know downtimes are temporary and they come and go, we can’t help feeling butterflies in the stomach thinking “no work, no pay” and wondering how long it will last. It always happens to me, so I won’t even bother telling you not to do so. 😉

How do you leverage your downtimes?

6 thoughts on “Having a downtime? Don’t freak out. Do something!

  1. I was in the same position last week, Caroline, and despite feeling every so slightly panicky about the post-Christmas credit card bills, it was actually a great opportunity to do my accounts, write another blog post, and, at this time of year, sort out my Christmas card list, create my client Christmas card and write my Christmas letter/cards to friends. Now that work has gone crazy again, I’m so glad I had the free time to do it! I also stocked up the freezer with soup and cookies for busier times ahead, so feel ahead of the game again. It’s not a nice feeling at the time, but as long as we don’t waste that valuable time, it can be very beneficial to just get off the work merrygoround for a while – provided it doesn’t last too long!


    • I totally agree with you that a downtime is actually a “valuable time,” Claire! I like saying it’s bitter-sweet: it’s great because we get to do a lot of stuff, but we can’t help feeling a bit worried, wondering if it will last longer.
      At this time of the year, it is indeed great to sort out our Christmas cards/presents.
      Thanks a lot for stopping by and commenting! 🙂
      Hope you have a productive yet calm and merry pre-Christmas period.


  2. Great post Carol! Downtime is an important part of our lives. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s why it is important to use it wisely. This is a great time to work your marketing and sales (write a blog post, jump into discussion of current industry trends, work on your website design or social media, pursue those leads you’ve always wanted, etc.) Sometimes downtime can be busier than the time when you actually translate something 🙂


    • Thank you, Dmitry!
      I appreciate your visit and your comment! 🙂
      I agree with you. There are so many things we can do on our downtime that it ends up being actually not enough!
      They are also useful to reducing the number of things we may have to end up doing on our free time due to lack of time on business hours. So, yes, they are really important!


  3. Adorei o post, Carol!
    Em meu atual “período de baixa”, aproveitei para fazer algo que demanda tempo e que estava enrolando para fazer há meses: traduzir meu CV para inglês e criar um perfil no LinkedIn!
    De fato, como você disse, há inúmeras coisas que podemos organizar/agilizar nesse tempo livre, e que durante os períodos de trabalho intenso acabamos não fazendo.


    • Fico feliz que tenha gostado, Fefa! 🙂
      Há muito o que fazer (coisas que realmente demandam tempo) nesse tempo livre, tanto que os projetos acabam voltando antes mesmo de conseguirmos fazer tudo. rs
      Que em 2015 você tenha muitos mais projetos!
      Obrigada pela visita e pelo comentário!


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