What to do when you have nothing to do

aka A Freelancer’s Guide to Navigating Work Gaps

I’ve had a fairly quiet spell over the last couple of weeks, and it’s given me some much-needed time to regroup, plan some future projects … and launch my new website. Part of the re-grouping is to think about how to tackle quiet times as a freelancer in the future.

Freelancing can be a rollercoaster. One moment you’re swamped with projects, and the next, you’re facing a lull. But remember, every freelancer, no matter how experienced, faces these gaps. Here’s a guide to help you navigate these quiet periods and ensure you’re always prepared.

Embrace the Mindset

Stay Positive: Understand that work gaps are a natural part of freelancing. It doesn’t reflect your worth or skills.

Trust the Process: If you’ve delivered quality work in the past, opportunities will come. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of time.

Financial Preparedness

Emergency Fund: Always have a few months of expenses saved up. This buffer will give you peace of mind during dry spells.

Diversify Income Streams: Consider other ways to earn, like teaching a course, affiliate marketing, or passive income projects.

Skill Upgrades

Learn: Use the free time to acquire a new skill or improve existing ones. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare offer numerous courses.

Practice: Work on personal projects. They can be added to your portfolio and might even open doors to new opportunities.


Reconnect: Touch base with past clients. They might have new projects or can refer you to someone.

Engage: Attend webinars, workshops, and conferences. Join online forums and communities related to your field. Because of my neurodivergence, I like to do this passively; watching content online, joining Slack groups and just reading etc.

Collaborate: Partner with other freelancers on projects. It can lead to referrals and shared opportunities. Me? I accidentally started a positivity revolution for Ipswich.

Review and Revamp

Portfolio: Update your portfolio with recent projects. A fresh look can attract new clients … did I mention my new website?

Testimonials: Collect and showcase feedback from past clients. I’m in the process of gathering new reviews on my Google Business Listing.

Rates: Re-evaluate your pricing. Maybe it’s time for a raise, or perhaps a temporary discount can attract more clients.


Physical Health: Engage in regular exercise, even if it’s just a daily walk. I’ll usually take the dogs out in the morning, then make sure I’m spending my time standing, moving or just away from my desk during the day.

Hobbies: I love to game and play guitar. Both activities help me clear my mind and refresh my thinking.

Get away from your screen: Forcing yourself to do “stuff” for no reason that to feel busy is counter-intuitive. Use some of the space and time to get away from your desk and screen.

Stay Organized

Find a routine that works for you: My autism loves organisation, structure and routine. My ADHD loves chaos, chainsaw juggling and distractions. It can be hard to find a routine amongst that, but it’s possible to find an approach to work that suits your own mindset.

Find a workspace that works for you: Some say “tidy desk, tidy mind“, that’s not necessarily true. Admittedly, my immediate desk space is very, very specifically laid out. What surrounds that space is an explosion of art, sketches, notes, tech, music gear and “stuff I really should throw out”. I used to beat myself up about the chaos, but I’ve come to understand that having it around me actually relaxes me and helps me focus in the “organised bit”

Remember Your ‘Why’

Revisit Your Goals: Remind yourself why you started freelancing. Whether it’s the freedom, passion, or something else, let it motivate you during tough times. While work gaps can be challenging, they also offer opportunities for growth, learning, and self-reflection. Embrace them, prepare for them, and always believe in your capabilities. Your next big project could be just around the corner!

This post was written by James Kindred

Oh, hey! I’m James Kindred - a graphic designer in Suffolk, UK, and I run Fork: a creative consultancy for start-ups and scaling brands. With over 25 years of experience, I work with start-up and scale-up brands to develop their identity, collateral and brand strategy.

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