How Do You Handle the “Dead Space” Between Projects?

Dead SpaceOne of the hardest parts about freelancing, other than dealing with those dreaded taxes, is knowing how to handle the “dead space” between projects. 

You know what I’m talking about, right? 

You’ll be drowning in client work one day, and then all of a sudden, it just seems to dry up. It could be days. It could be weeks. Hopefully, it’s not months! 

So you wait. And you wait some more. And then you start to really worry if you’ll ever see work again. *cue sad violin music* 

When you’re a freelancer, the waiting is especially hard because it means you’re paying bills and buying food without having any work to invoice. And that can be really, really scary. 

Aside from the whole “paying bills” issue, I’ve found that this waiting period can really eat away at your business confidence if you don’t use it as an opportunity to get $H!t done.

If you need some ideas on how to fill the dead space until the next email or phone call comes around, here are some of my favorite ways to still be productive:

  • Catch up on all bookkeeping and business paperwork
  • Update your website or portfolio with your latest projects
  • Take a stretch project to learn a new skill
  • Write a LinkedIn or blog post 
  • Go to a networking event or meet-up 
  • Balance your household budget
  • Do your retail/store returns
  • Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about 
  • Take a class at your local library
  • Work in the yard
  • Get your car’s oil changed
  • Make a dent in that giant pile of laundry and ironing!
  • Deep-clean something
  • Deal with household clutter
  • Sell something on Facebook Marketplace
  • Donate old books
  • Visit out-of-town family members
  • Take a nap! 
  • Binge-watch something 
  • Bake cookies or brownies
  • Have coffee with a friend
  • Have lunch with your significant other
  • Take your kids to the park or the pool

Note that I included quite a bit of personal-life items on the list. That’s because when the next project does finally come your way, you’ll feel a *little* less guilty about taking time to work and finally paying those bills. 

I’d love to hear – what’s your best advice for dealing with the wait? 

Kristen Dunn

Kristen Dunn is a graphic designer and illustrator. After seven years of brand and marketing work for a global energy company, she recently left the corporate communications world in order to serve freelance clients across a range of industries. With specialized training in medical illustration and biomedical communications, she particularly enjoys finding creative ways to combine science and art.
Kristen Dunn

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