How to Manage Too Much Work — Surviving Crazy-Busy

How to Manage Too Much Work — Surviving Crazy-Busy

How to manage too much work: strategies for surviving times of crazy-busy, as all feast-or-famine freelancers must, eventually. Here’s a plan:

You’ve read about how to make use of the famine part of the freelancer’s work cycle, by prepping for or catching up from the busy times. Pre-doing work is part of the strategy for keeping your head in times of crazy busy, but what else can you do to keep your head during the feast times?

It seems, this fall, that the busy freelancers are even busier than ever. Maybe it’s a sign of hope for the greater economy. Maybe it’s a sign that our clients are trying to spend their budgets before year end. Whatever the case, many of us are losing sleep and wondering how to not lose our minds.

Here is a little checklist for your crazy times:

  1. Self-care—prioritize your health.
  2. Delegate everything humanly possible.
  3. Negotiate more reasonable deadlines.


Your best work comes when you are in peak condition. Eat right, relax, get exercise, sleep, and connect with friends and family. Put these things on your schedule first. Face it: we work with words, chances are that no one will die because you took time to care for yourself.

Health you sacrifice during times of crazy buys is much harder to regain when/ if you finally have the time. And your family might actually remember who you are and be willing to help with the next strategy because you’re both present and not tearing their heads off.

close up on the face of a kid kid blowing bubbles underwater while wearing water wings & goggles

Relaxation hack: Blow bubbles. This not only forces you to take some deep, slow breaths, but the bubbles are delightful. Being silly can release a lot of tension—for you, and for those around you. Pair this with swimming and you’ll get some exercise in, too!

More Suggested Remedies

  • Sex helps you get exercise, relax, and reconnect with someone close to you. Plus, you’ll probably sleep better.
  • Baring that, get a pet, and do the other things in that list.
  • Retail therapy works for many people, and if you go to the right store, you can even write it off!


This includes work as well as cooking and cleaning. The North American economy is based on the idea that you should spend your time doing what you are best at, and pay others for doing what they are best at. Every hour you spend earning income is money you can use to create a job for another person: the maid, the personal chef, the grocery delivery person, your utilities provider, and your bookkeeper.

Having a life partner makes delegating the life stuff much easier. My family knows that I do more than my share when work is light, so they’re willing to take up the slack when my nose is to the grindstone.

Things to Delegate

  • House cleaning, laundry & maintenance
  • Grocery shopping & meal prep
  • Child-care
  • Bookkeeping
  • Parts of the job… (like subcontracting the reference formatting or caption editing)
  • There was a story of one man who even outsourced arguments with his wife — YMMV


Sometimes dates can be moved. Maybe the next person in the process has been delayed, maybe breathing room was worked into the schedule and it’s your turn to use it, maybe they can find another set of hands to make light work of this.

  • Just ask. Sometimes you win.
  • Barring that, vow to do whatever you can during the next lull, to prepare for the next crazy-busy time.

Most Important: Prioritize Tasks

First, do the things readers/ users will notice most. Then work your way don’t the “it makes a difference” list until you run out of time. Read more about triage and what readers DO notice in this other post. 

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