3 telltale signs of contractor burnout

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It’s often said that contractors and self-employed professionals are able to enjoy the best of both worlds. From an enhanced work-life balance to increased earning power, they could be forgiven for thinking they have it all.

When running your own business, however, it is easy to lose focus on the long-term strategy and instead concentrate on the ‘here and now’. This is especially true at the early stages of a contracting career.

New contractors can easily be caught in the mindset that it is better to take on more work, as this would provide more clients and more revenue. However, overstretching yourself can lead to an increase in stress and pressure, potentially undermining the very reasons you decided to go it alone in the first place.

This would also have a detrimental effect on your business, as the quality of work you produce would inevitably suffer – along with the level of service you provide. With this in mind, we’ve highlighted three telltale signs that you may have bitten off more than you can chew.

Feeling futile

For many contractors, the ability to be in control of their own destiny and enjoy the work they are doing are the very reasons for becoming self-employed. If you take on so much responsibility that you are no longer enjoying these benefits, you risk tiring yourself out and letting your clients down.

Lack of 'Me time'

Self-employment should allow an individual to schedule their work around their personal life and enjoy important time with the family. Indeed, one of our contractor clients said the ability to take time off at key points in his children’s development was the “greatest thing” that he has been able to do.

If you find yourself with no time to switch off and disengage from your work, then you risk affecting your productivity. In addition, it could create a sense of resentment with the tasks you are carrying out and perhaps even within your family.

Lack of structure

To get the most out of your contracting career, it is a good idea to have a set of well-defined goals and targets. If you often feel that you don’t know where to start, this suggests you are taking on too much.

To combat these signs, contractors should think very carefully about how much work they can physically manage while maintaining the quality of what they produce. They should also look closely at the type of assignments they are offered and take time to choose the right ones.

Have your say

Are you a contractor? Have you struggled with your workload in the past? How did you overcome this? What advice would you give to people starting off in self-employment? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.