One of the many reasons why people become freelancers is to get a better work-life balance. However, one of the common criticisms of freelancing is that it can be difficult to avoid freelance work taking over your life. When you’re first starting out as a freelancer or taking on new freelance clients, the work-life balance can easily tip towards work. So let’s take a look at the ways you can ensure a healthy work-life balance as a freelancer.
#1 Choose your working hours
One of the major areas that affects work-life balance is your working hours. As a freelancer, the beauty is that you’re free to choose the hours that suit you. Yet many people listen to prescriptive guidance on what hours they should work and how they should plan their time. It should be about what works for you—not what works for someone else. Decide which days and hours suit you best, then use them as a guideline. If a routine doesn’t work for you, do what does.
#2 Set boundaries
Once you know the hours you want to work, set clear boundaries. This means telling your clients which days and hours you’re available—and importantly which you won’t. Don’t worry, they won’t expect you to be available 24/7. When you’re not in your “working hours”, don’t be tempted to check your emails or reply to clients. You also need to tell friends and family the times you won’t be available, so you’re not constantly getting interrupted. Setting boundaries might also mean keeping weekends free to spend with loved ones, or setting up a home office to keep your work and home life separate.
#3 Know your time
To keep a work-life balance, you need to know where you’re spending your time. It can feel like you’re working 24/7 when you’re actually wasting time, so use an app such as RescueTime to see what you’re actually doing with your time.
#4 Manage your time
Once you know where you spend your time, adjust accordingly. Spend your time on the important tasks that only you can do. If there are tasks that are taking up a lot of time but giving you little return, see whether you can ditch them, automate them (such as having template emails), save them until later, or outsource them (such as hiring an accountant to do your taxes).
#5 Free your mind
A quick way to improve your work-life balance is to free up your mind space. Sometimes, it can feel like you have an imbalance because you’re thinking about work and what you need to do during downtime. For example, if a task takes five minutes, do it immediately. If it’s taking up space in your brain, write it down. Write lists of your daily tasks, weekly jobs, and longer-term priorities rather than ruminating on all the things you need to do.
#6 Take a break
To maintain a work-life balance, you need to take a break from work. This means giving yourself downtime away from the laptop and the phone every day. It can be walking round the block or having a cuppa in the garden—anything to get away from your laptop. It can also be going to yoga, the gym, or art classes. It also means planning regular time off every week, and planning holiday time into your schedule.
Taking these six steps will help you to achieve a better work-life balance as a freelancer. It’s not always easy, but it is possible. You’re in charge of your own time and freelance working life, so use the opportunity to craft the work-life balance that you want. Got any tips for freelance work-life balance? Comment below or get in touch.