The Renegade Writer

15 Minutes to Sanity In This Crazy Freelance World

This is a guest post by Tania Dakka.

Three projects due today. One tomorrow. And you intended to send out LOIs this week, too.

You’re on the verge of burnout, but you can’t stop now. Missing a deadline isn’t an option. Your reputation is at stake. This is your life. Every day. Every week.

Business can’t go on like this.

When you’re trying to build your business, all you can see is “get more clients, get more clients, get more clients.” You do everything you can to get your name out to your right tribe. You spend your “free” time on social media trying to network with people in and out of your industry trying to make connections that will grow your livelihood.

The rest of the day is spent trying to produce work for the clients you do have and keep them happy. (We won’t even go into the condition of the house and those beautiful kids sitting at your table, not-so-patiently waiting for dinner!)

The life of a freelancer is hard. Really hard.

You didn’t know starting a business that would allow you to work from the “comfort of your own home” would be so taxing. But it’s beyond taxing.

That’s why your health is so, so important.

You carry a tremendous amount of weight on your shoulders doing what you can to help with family finances, but you have to be able to bare that load or the whole thing will tumble down on your head.

And when you sit at your desk sipping latte after latte, throwing crap down your throat instead of nourishing foods, not exercising, not taking care of your body, you weaken the very foundation on which you’re trying to build that awesome freelance service.

I know, it’s just easier to function like that, right?

It’s easier to say “I don’t have time!” than it is to rearrange a few things and make time. (Honestly, how much do you need to rearrange for 15 minutes? I mean, you spend that much time playing with your inbox in the morning.) And the idea of expending more energy is as draining as actually doing it! So you make your excuses.

You can do it.

All you need is 15 minutes every day. That’s it. When you think about it, it’s not an optional investment when you invest your life in your freelancing career. It’s just a part of business.

When you stop looking at being fit as a way of life, but more like a way of business, you’ll make time for it. Because, you know, business is all there is. Right?

The secret to making lasting change in the way you run your business:

Make a promise to yourself, your family, and your business that you’ll invest 15 minutes in ANY exercise EVERY day and KEEP it. Maxing your heart rate for 15 minutes is best, but some days (especially if you’re just starting to establish this routine), you just won’t feel like starting.

But once you do, you’ll find you won’t want to stop. Many, many, many times I’ve stepped on the treadmill or turned on my Youtube boxing playlist with the mindset that I was only going to do it for 15 minutes, but then I didn’t even want the time to finish.

You see, exercise has this awesome way of making you feel good, but if you give in to the limiting belief that you don’t have the time or the energy, you’ll never give yourself the chance you need to find that out.

Stick to it.

You’ll eventually get into a rhythm where you find that you NEED that 15 minutes of exertion.

It works like this: Do it every day and you’ll become a junkie. Not that kind — sheesh. I mean an adrenaline junkie. You’ll find that your body craves that rush that comes with your exercise sessions. That time to focus on something besides work will become a rockin’ way to take a mini-vacay everyday.

And as you ease into your new routine with that one unbreakable promise of a Daily 15 Minutes, you’ll find that you manage your stress better (you know, those impending deadlines won’t seem so frustrating), you’ll sleep better (which allows you to deal with the day-to-day frustrations and to think more clearly — read produce better work, too!), and you’ll start to get into shape.

But who needs to write better and more clearly? Who needs to balance the stress of freelancing (after all, there’s not much you can do about it, right?)? And who needs a strong foundation for a solid business?

If you answered “not me” to any of these, then thanks for reading, I appreciate your time. But if you answered “ME!” to any of them, give yourself a month — just a month — to find out if this is the right answer for you. I guarantee you’ll never want to stop when you see what it can do for your peace of mind and your bottom line.

What exercise do you know you can squeeze in every day for 15 minutes?

Challenge yourself every day with different exercises like this so you can squeeze in your Promised Daily 15 (without even leaving your office!):

  1. Do 5 – 3 minute Burpee challenges/day – 1 set in the morning when you get up, 1 before you break in the morning, 1 before lunch, 1 before your afternoon break and 1 before bed.
  2. Have a 15 minute dance party in your office (turn on some awesome Latin beats and boogey)!
  3. Do 2 – 7 minute sessions of shadow boxing (one of my faves!).
  4. Do 5 sets of 10 pushups, 5 sets of 15 body-weight squats, 5 sets of 15 deadlifts, 5 sets of 10 triangle pushups, 5 sets of 15 crunches and 5 sets of pelvic tilts.
  5. 3 minutes of high knees (jumping rope without a jump rope) 5 times/day.

(Bonus hint: Take your brain out of the equation. Make exercise something you do NOT think about before you do it. The more you agonize over it, the less likely you’ll push yourself to go through with it.)

Tania Dakka – the Fit Freelancer – helps freelancers like you thrive where life, fitness, and productivity collide. Find her blogging at or hanging out on Facebook or Twitter.

Jun 4, 2012 Advice, Motivation, Self improvement

8 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Wow! This post is just what I needed today. I live in a large city and walk most places, but I need to get back into short exercise breaks throughout my day. Thanks for the tips!

    • Tania Dakka says:

      Thanks for commenting, Chris! And it’s great to be able to walk everywhere, but I’m so glad to hear you’ll be incorporating more exercise breaks! Have a beautiful day!

  2. This is a great post! Everything in the beginning is so true! As I was reading this my youngest daughter needed my help with her spelling homework. There’s always some juggling going on around here, and it will be more difficult since school will be out soon. However, as a black belt in Tae Kwon do, I always make time for exercise and eating well. It’s so important!

  3. Kat says:

    Great post! I like how you’ve emphasised that it’s not about going crazy with an unattainable fitness regime. Just 15 minutes a day is enough to get your heart pumping. I do a similar routine called the Prison Cell Circuit, so-called because you could do it in a tiny cell! It’s 15 minutes of squats, sit-ups, push-ups, burpees etc. It always gets me sweaty and ready to attack my work. :)

    • Tania Dakka says:

      Rockin’, Kat! I LOVE the sit-ups, pushups and burpees! They’re powerful enough to work your whole body – didn’t know they had a name! I’ll definitely be looking up the Prison Cell Circuit! Thanks for the tip and keep up the sweating!

  4. That’s all you need, Kat! I like the name, too. :) We love burpees at the black belt academy! ;)

  5. John Yeoman says:

    As an old-time PR journalist, I found that advice worked. In my case, I never had writers’ block. I couldn’t afford it! The trick was to scamp out something, anything, every hour on the hour, then repair it at leisure.

    And when that didn’t work, I jogged around the office!

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