Struggling with Work/Life Balance? This Will Help
Freelancers often choose self-employment because they want control over their time and schedule. However, without the structure and constraints of a traditional employment setting, it’s easy to get in over your head with your freelance workload.
The following is an overview of some of the most helpful strategies and insights to help you build and maintain a solid work-life balance.
Create a Structured Work Environment
A lack of structure is a common pitfall for freelancers. To avoid this, create a structured workspace that is separate from the rest of your living area. Have a desk and other important office equipment and tools around you that are primarily used for work. If you’re working from home, communicate with family members about your work schedule and request the ability to work without disruption.
A structured workspace makes it easier to psychologically get yourself into efficient work mode.
Learn the Significance of “Yes” and “No”
A lack of work and income is a common fear for freelancers. This emotion is a result of the uncertainty that comes without a traditional paycheck. However, don’t let this fear cause you to lose sight of the need to balance your work and personal lives.
Say “Yes” to work projects that provide an adequate income to time/stress value. Say “Yes” to important time for yourself. Say “No” to any projects that don’t have the necessary income and pleasure in relation to the time and stress they demand.
Fire Clients when Necessary
In some cases, you have to extend your willingness to say “No” to a more permanent reality, such as firing a client. Clients may demand more from freelancers than you are willing to provide. The time and hassle to serve one unruly client are sometimes equal what you put into serving two or three great clients. Know your limits, state them to a client when necessary, and accept when the demands are too great.
Maintain a Work/Life Calendar
You will never have a great work-life balance without a formal calendar that encapsulates both areas. Include your typical work hours and important meetings. Have your planned personal time and family activities as well, so you know when you absolutely cannot work. Make it a habit to stick to those non-work commitments.
In addition to your calendar, keep a to-do list each day of your projects and work requirements, so you can prioritize how to best allocate your scheduled work time.
Schedule Personal/Family Time
In line with the points about a work-life calendar, schedule time for yourself and your family. Simple things like going to the gym, taking vacations, going out to dinner and taking family outings can get overlooked if you don’t plan them.
Recognize Signs of Stress and Burnout
Even with all of the preventative and maintenance measures already described, it is likely that at some point you will become stressed with your freelance work. Recognize the signs of mental and physical exhaustion, tension and body pains that point to high stress. If you don’t take time to step back, and even take some time off, you risk burnout. The physical and emotional challenges of burnout make it difficult to complete work for even longer.
These are some of the most powerful strategies to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Freelancers must act with intention in these areas or risk gradual build-up of stress, and eventually, burnout.