How to break free when you're stuck in a rut

There comes a point in every freelancer's life when things become stale and unmoving. All too often, we get our heads down, work incredibly hard and then find ourselves stuck in a rut.

We could be stuck creatively where we're faced with the same, old boring work over and over again. We might be in a low pay cycle where we're not getting a high enough day rate. We could be working all hours and forgetting downtime or holidays. Or we could be missing out on acquiring new skills.

If you feel like you're stuck in a rut, here are some top tips to help you break free and set off down the right path…

Stuck dilemma #1: Creativity has dried up

Your projects have become dull and repetitive. Your clients want the same things over and over again. You've lost all enjoyment in your work and you're bored out of your mind.

The Solution

Take positive steps to find work you really will enjoy. This might mean re-branding yourself to attract new clients requiring different disciplines. For example, if you're a PR freelancer and you're sick of writing press releases – why not change your speciality to something else, like web copywriting or blogging? Find different niches and go for it!

Stuck dilemma #2: You're literally stuck to your desk

The 9-5 routine just doesn't wash anymore. You're at your desk from 7am and are still there at 9pm. And that's just the weekends.

The Solution

Stop right there! There is no need to work silly hours when you freelance. If you disagree with me, then perhaps you need to reassess your day rate. You're clearly not charging enough. For every new business enquiry, increase your day rate and see what happens. If you're already working to full capacity it won't do any harm. Test the water and make it your mission to earn more money in less time.

Stuck dilemma #3: You're stuck in low pay

You're suffering from low pay and struggling to make ends meet. You might not be charging enough. You might lack the right admin systems. You could be missing out on opportunities to organically grow your clients and boost profits.

The Solution

Get real and start taking yourself seriously. You're in control of how much you charge for your time, so increase your day rate and ensure you're always logging your time for any work, including time spent on phone calls and meetings. Justify your increased day rate by improving your website, branding and even your personal appearance. Be confident, be bold and take steps to find bigger projects through your own marketing. In fact, business development should be something you tackle every day – you should always be searching for bigger clients.

Stuck dilemma #4: Holidays don't exist anymore

You've flown out to Spain or Greece to enjoy two blissful weeks on the beach but you've taken your laptop to continue working for clients. You come back home stressed, miserable and without the benefits of a holiday.

The Solution

Going on holiday means you don't actually work while you're away. It means taking a complete break from your desk, the digital world and all the stresses of freelancing. Holidays are essential for our health and well-being. They help us to rejuvenate and recharge.

Clients will understand that you need to take holidays. Just give them plenty of notice. And if you simply must be contactable, use a virtual assistant to take all your calls while you're away under the strict instruction that they should only forward messages to your mobile if it's an emergency.

Stuck dilemma #5: You've become outdated

Freelancing can sometimes get in the way of everything. It can overtake your life and have you on a treadmill with no time to do anything else. This can mean you become stuck with outdated skills and risk falling behind.

The Solution

You must always find time to brush up on your skills. Even if it's just an hour each day. Read a book. Watch some training videos. Attend a class. Go to an interesting workshop. A great top tip is to write a daily blog – it will help you to learn new things, keep up with industry news and discover new skills.

Stuck dilemma #6: You hate your work

You simply don't enjoy freelancing anymore. It has become a miserable existence and you despise all your clients. But the thought of returning to full-time employment fills you with dread.

The Solution

If you're feeling really low, you could be suffering from burnout – in which case read these top tips to help you manage and recover from burnout. Remember, you are in control of your own business and your life. You can easily make changes to make freelancing enjoyable again. It might mean losing a few stressful clients or getting some office space to separate home and work life. Whatever you need to do, just do it! The world is still your oyster and you should never be afraid to make changes. Change is good!