The Take-It-All Syndrome: When it is Overworking and not Laziness

Hello Fellow Freelancers,

Based on experience, I have come to realize that one of the most undermined situations in freelancing as a young and budding freelancer is Overworking. Sometimes it can be pretty difficult to differentiate when one is being overworked and when the situation is laziness. This simply means that at a point in the writing life of a young freelancer, it is very possible to get lost in the art of self-asking; why am I tired? This is probably laziness. . . Oh! I don’t get enough sleep. . . I don’t feel like doing anything and if care is not taken, there is every possibility of misplacing what the problem is exactly.

The Take-It-All Syndrome: When it is Overworking and not Laziness

Therefore, what we call laziness most times is not laziness neither is it writers’ block but fatigue borne out of being overworked. So, do you feel choked? Are you suddenly depressed like you just keep staring at your freelancing tools every day with no desire to do nothing or you just snack on your ideas and all you do is see movies everyday when you have lots of work to catch up on or are you carefree about your deadlines? Do you have too many works on your hand? If it’s a yes answer to all of these questions, you are being overworked.

According to, stress gained through overworking has been recorded to be one of the top causes of depression. Basically, being overworked doesn’t necessarily mean working long hours in a day, it’s a state of accumulated stress on the brain due to lack of a break. Moreover, one of the issues I had to deal with in the course of freelancing was Overworking and this was borne out of the misconception that as a budding Freelancer, it is very advisable to grab every work opportunity that comes to you and this idea is not only wrong but also does more harm than good.

It wouldn’t be a hasty generalization to say that every budding Freelancer deals with the take-it-all syndrome at one time or the other and this could be based on so many reasons like the urge to gain massive experience, building one’s self, getting one’s name out there or making money. Nonetheless, these reasons could be negatively affecting as unconsciously we tend to take more than we can handle as we struggle with saying No to offers which open us up to taking any kind of offer; both juicy and non-juicy.

Sometimes, it climaxes to the extent of finding it very difficult to resist open opportunities. That is, we are the ones walking into it, like putting up for contests we find online, offering to be a contributor which are most times freebies (ain’t nothing wrong with freebies; I’ve done more than I’ve being paid) but the platform distracts and entices and before we know it, everywhere becomes jam-packed and that is when we start complaining about one week not being enough and then the tiredness sets in.

So how do we handle being overworked?

There are several ways to handle being overworked individually but below are the lists of things I did which worked for me and I hope it could work for you if you try it;

1. Take a break – Well, I know you’re probably gonna say that’s what you’ve been doing for days or weeks now but I’d say that’s not taking a break, that’s responding to the breakdown and being depressed. So, take a real break, put all works aside, go offline if need be and take yourself through how you relax when not pressured. Make yourself experience one or two if not all of these relaxation ways, just enough to clear your head, restore energy, reaffirm your focus and create room for clarity.

2. Reorganize your writing schedule – When you’re convinced and satisfied with the effect of number one, reorganizing your writing schedule is the next thing. This part can be quite a struggle because one is drawn into a place where you have to prioritize from the most important to the least which means some jobs/contracts have to go and some kept. Contrary to what some people think, Freelancing isn’t about how many works you can handle at a time but how many you can effectively deliver and give your best. It’s not a test of how great you are with multitasking but how devoted and dedicated you are to giving your very best and not sharing it with six or more works at the same time. Don’t get it all wrong, I’m not saying it’s not a great idea and infeasible to handle more than one freelancing work at a time or in a roll but personally, you need to identify when it becomes too much enough to make your brain freeze.

3. Start Again – There is no special explanation to this than what it already means, which is picking your pen and wielding it again and trust me, your craft will definitely feel the new energy you have. Pick up your freelancing tools again and make magic.

4. Learn from it – One of the things we can do to hurt ourselves most times is undervaluing our past experiences. It is important to identify what triggered and contributed to the overworking state of mind in order to avoid it next time and if there be a next time, we’d have a better understanding of how to handle it.

Finally, one of the things you should never do as a Freelancer is put yourself and personal space at risk. Freelancing doesn’t mean you are being barred from doing other things unrelated to your freelancing jobs. You should be able to sign up for any writing competition, projects, workshop etc of your choice when you want.

Also, don’t put your current freelancing jobs at risk with the inability to resist enticing platforms in whatever way they present themselves. Don’t be the reason for your breakdown. If you can’t handle it with your current workload, look away quickly, there would always be better ones! It’s all about wisdom, don’t overfill your hands.

Saying No isn’t always disadvantaged!


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