Non-stop activity during the year? Don’t go crazy in summer.
It seems like we spend all year waiting for summer. But I have to admit that I find it highly overrated, especially in Barcelona. Every year I completely forget how much summer gets on my nerves. I know I’m not the only one! Let’s discuss some ideas to avoid losing your cool in the hottest months of the year.
I love my job and the non-stop activity throughout the year. The energy and positive vibes that go hand-in-hand with doing work that I love. As a freelance copywriter, communication consultant, and creative project manager, the pace is hectic. I am incredibly energetic, so the pace satisfies me on many different levels, from professional to personal. I’ve been swamped with work the past two summers and managed to take breaks throughout the year. But what to do if summer is slow, which is the normal case? That is exactly what I am facing this year. The work dribbles down to nothing. Projects are lined up for September but there is nothing in between. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be a bit frantic and it has nothing to do with economical reasons. You just really miss the constant activity.
Don’t even think of counting on friends! All those normal people who have 9:00 to 19:00 jobs? They disappear on vacation just when you have more time to spend with them. The only solution? Stick to freelance friends. They’ll understand your complaints and won’t say ridiculous things such as “you’re so lucky, you can go on holiday whenever you want”. Answer: I have to take my computer on holidays and continue working, lest the empire fall to pieces while I’m (shock / horror) having a break. So in order to tide you over until September, I’ve cobbled together some tips to survive the hottest months of the year. From very easy to very complex, I’m sure there will be something that will help you out!
Tips to Survive Summer as a Freelance in Barcelona
1 – Invest in air-conditioning
Yes, it might be slightly expensive but it is so worth it. No more sweating in your own home. This is, by far, is the best investment I have ever made. No more uncomfortable nights being eaten alive by mosquitos. No more moaning about the heat. Everyone wants to go to your place so you don’t even have to leave the house.
2 – Check out your local library
No cash for air-conditioning? No problem! There are loads of libraries dotted around the city. These contain books, computers, WiFi, comfortable reading chairs, bathrooms, water fountains, and silence. You can even smuggle in some food. You can basically spend the day here and no one will chuck you out. You’ll come across an array of old folks, a lot smarter than the rest of us, just chillin’ out and having a read. On the downside, most libraries are closed in August, so this is something for July.
3 – Cinema
Summer is the perfect time to catch up with all those films you missed during the year. Renoir offers a wide selection of movies that have already been on, at a reduced price. More air-conditioning and comfortable seats! On the downside, the projection room is in the basement and smells kinda funky. Remember to take along some strong mint chewing gum. Oh, and don’t even bother going to the dreaded Cinema a la Fresca… Packed with people, children running wild and stepping on EVERYTHING, too much noise, mosquitos, toxic levels of humidity… Just not worth the effort.
4 – Try out something new
Yeah, yeah, I bet you hear this all the time. But it really does work. I know you go on and on about how you never have time for anything. In other words, a slow summer is the perfect moment to try something new. Want to brush up new skills? There are so many free online courses available. Curious about photography? Passionate about swimming? I’ve tried out sailing recently and absolutely love it. It’s something I want to get into more. I’ve also recently bought a bike. I can barely believe the amount of freedom it has given me. I can exercise and discover new things near Barcelona that I just wasn’t able to before. You’ll be occupied, you’ll push yourself out of your comfort zone and, who knows, maybe you’ll have a new hobby that you want to continue when September rolls around.
5 – Start thinking and planning for fall
This can just be making plans to try something new, that way there will be something else aside from work to look forward to. I’m going to be signing up for lindy hop dance classes and I’m really excited. I’m also going to plan out projects and actions that I can take, such as connecting with potential new clients.
6 – A Personal Project
With all the slow hours during summer, this is the perfect time to work on a personal project. It could be work-related and ideal to share in autumn. There is nothing like working on something creative without client pressure. Or it could be something on a personal level, such as changing all the wood frames in your Eixample gallery windows. Anything is good as long as you keep busy, feel satisfied and creative.
7 – Practise What You Preach
So, you’re a programmer but your web is a mess… You’re a graphic designer but you’ve had the same professional cards since you finished school… You’re a communication consultant and copywriter but haven’t had time to invest in writing… In other words, a slow summer is the ideal moment to overhaul. Sit down to think about what you offer and why you are so different. Why do clients keep coming back? Are there things you can improve? Do certain areas need attention? This is actually a lot of work and requires vast amounts of motivation but the effort will pay off in fall. This is my priority this summer. I’m overhauling my branding, working extensively on my SEO, brainstorming new content for my blog, the whole works. It requires a huge amount of commitment but can you honestly keep preaching without practising?
8 – Do try to get away
All of these tips are great to help you keep busy, creative, and purposeful, but do remember to get away, even for a long weekend. It will refresh you and give you new perspective and energy for autumn. I’m going to Copenhagen and Stockholm towards the end of August with friends. It’s just something to look forward to.
What to avoid
1 – Drinking too much
It can be tempting as an avoidance tactic or to fill the slow hours, but the heat makes hangovers that much worse.
2 – Staying in your head too much
You know what I mean, listening to that little voice in your head that says there will never be more work, that things could have gone better, that you should work harder, that clients aren’t happy. That’s why it’s best to keep yourself entertained during the slow months!
3 – The beach and the center of Barcelona
Between the oppressive heat and the masses of sweaty tourists, it’s best to keep away. You’ll only end up in a foul mood. There is nothing worse than being jostled around by sticky people. The beaches in Barcelona in summer are disgusting and you’ll only be picking sand out of various orifices for the next few weeks.
4 – Saying yes to shitty projects
Don’t say yes to projects to just fill your time. We’ve all done this and it always turns out badly. If a project doesn’t interest you or you can see that the client is going to be a nightmare, say no politely. Tell them you’re going on vacation and won’t be available!
5 – Aimlessness
Don’t spend the entire summer doing nothing, sleeping in, not making plans. This will just make you feel worse. You will have no energy by the time fall rolls around, no motivation. Nothing to show for yourself aside from constant moaning and complaining.
So be happy and make the most of the slow months. You can survive summer as a freelance in Barcelona like a pro. September will bring nicer weather, the return of friends, new projects, and new freelance adventures.