Having a good work-life balance is one of the best and, at times, worst things about being a freelancer. I often have a hard time creating a separation between work and home, and working from home only makes it more challenging.
Yes, I have a designated home office, and I have regular, dedicated office hours, but the temptation to sneak into my office in the evening and check emails, or get ahead for tomorrow is always there. In the back of my mind, I know that the more time I put in, the more money I will make, and unlike other salary based jobs, my income has no cap on it. I can push myself to make more money if I so desire.
Smartphones don’t help either. While they are convenient during the work day, they become a temptation when I am relaxing on the couch in the evening. It’s so easy to check my email or post to my social media accounts that I actually try to keep my phone more than an arm’s length away so I don’t intuitively reach for it.
Freelancer = Workaholic
I think than most freelancers will agree that most of us have workaholic tendencies. This also makes it tough to shut off your brain and focus on something else rather than work. It’s another blessing and a curse, and if you don’t maintain a decent balance and give yourself time to rest and recharge, you could end up feeling burned out, something that can impact your productivity.
But what if you are busy or get offered a project you can’t pass up?
I hear you – I’ve spent many nights and weekends working on last minute projects to earn some extra money and to get ahead. Saying no to money is not easy. Being busy is great. It’s a sign of success and a sign there is demand for your services. But, if work starts to creep into your home time too often, it could start to weigh on you and impact your personal life.
Freelancing = Flexibility
On the other side of the coin, freelancing offers you the flexibility to work a schedule that makes sense for you. It gives you the opportunity to do things that you otherwise would not be able to do if you worked a 9-5 job.
For example, I take 30 minutes each afternoon to read. It’s a way for me to decompress and get my mind off work for a little bit. I also take time each day to play with my dog – we play in the yard, go for a walk or sometimes we cuddle on the couch (yes, I am a big softie for him). Speaking of dogs, I highly recommend you get one if you work from home. They are great companions, and my dog, Jiminy, makes sure to tell me when the mailman arrives.
How to Create of a Good Balance
How you divide up your time is up to you. However, you need to establish a good work-life balance in order to experience the benefits that freelancing can offer your personal and work life. Here are some suggestions:
- Have a routine: Set regular office hours to establish boundaries.
- Get out of the house at least one per week during business hours if you work from home, even if it’s just to a local coffee shop. This will help you avoid getting “cabin fever.”
- Give on both ends: There will be times where work will creep into your personal life and when your personal life will cut into your work time.
- Unplug: Give yourself some time each day to completely unplug from technology and work.
- Get active: Getting active and hitting the gym is a great way to get more energy and melt away the stress of the day.
- Get help: If you are having trouble keeping up, then perhaps it’s time that you get some help running your business. Stop trying to do it all yourself.
- Change things up: If you are having trouble finding a good balance, then it’s a sign that you should consider changing things up. You could change your office hours, assess your client base and workload, or you could just need a few days to yourself to recharge your battery.
You know your business and your life best, and you know the type of work-life balance you want to achieve. Take some time to think about how you can achieve it.