Freelance work can be a fantastic opportunity to gain experience, build a flexible work week, and take your skills in new directions. However, while many people envy the freelance lifestyle, it isn’t always easy being self-employed or working as an entrepreneur or innovator. In fact, freelance work brings with it a host of challenges that need to be addressed for you to achieve a healthy work balance. One of the toughest struggles that many freelancers face is creating a healthy work-life balance.
While freelancers often benefit from the freedom to pick their own projects and control their own schedule, this can also create problems. After all, you’ve probably gone from working in an office – where your work ends when you clock out – to taking every project home with you. With the added pressure of being solely responsible for your profits, it can be harder than ever to switch off from work. Many freelancers routinely find themselves working weekends or overcommitting to work for fear of not bringing in enough money.
This can put added pressure on relationships or can lead you to burnout – something that will definitely hold up your professional progress. You also run the risk of damaging your health long-term through stress. Luckily most of the negative consequences of overwork and burnout are absolutely avoidable. With just a few tweaks to your lifestyle, you can develop some achievable work-life balance goals and create more time for wellness and self-care.
Here are tips for achieving a healthy work-life balance while freelancing.
1. Be flexible with work
Obviously, when you commit to being a freelancer or running your own business, you commit to working hard. No one should really go into freelance work expecting it to be a walk in the park. However, it doesn’t need to completely consume your life either. You are allowed to find a balance, even when you work for yourself. Wondering why work-life balance is important? It could be bad for business. For example, one mistake many freelancers make when they first start is to say ‘yes’ to absolutely everything.
Now, clearly, if you turn freelance in the first place, it’s likely that you consider yourself a go-getter. You’re someone who spots opportunities and takes them. You probably don’t like to close yourself off to experiences or challenges. However, over-committing and stretching yourself timewise can be a false economy as a freelancer. You don’t want to take on too many projects and then find yourself unable to complete them or unable to provide high-quality deliverables to your clients.
This will make a bad impression on your clients and can lead to a decline in work opportunities. This is the opposite of what you want to achieve and can damage your business and your self-esteem. Although it can be scary to rely on a single project, sometimes you should take this risk. It’s often better to do a great job on one thing than to try and juggle too many and perform poorly across the board.
2. Plan ahead
Working for yourself and achieving a work-home balance requires discipline. Rather than relying on a boss to tell you when to work, you have to find ways to organize your calendar yourself. This can pose a challenge, especially if you are working freelance for the first time. Time is a crucial factor if you’re wondering how to balance work and life. When you lose control of your schedule, you lose control of your time.
If you feel in control of your time, you know when to relax and when you need to put your foot on the pedal. Keep on top of your schedule by writing everything down. Write down events and work deadlines in your calendar, and remember to schedule in some self-care time, so it doesn’t get overlooked. You can also write yourself daily to-do lists to help manage tasks or create a work balance board to plot out your weeks in advance.
3. Engage in physical activity
If you have a busy and demanding job, exercise will keep you sane. This is even more important if you work from home or spend long hours at a desk. Inactivity over long periods of time has been linked to increased stress, fatigue, chronic pain, and a variety of health conditions. We get it. It’s so easy to get caught up in your work and forget to move. But did you know that even doing a quick, 10 min workout could boost your mood and up your productivity?
Neither did we – but when we found out, we swore never to skip a workout again. So, use your scheduling ability and pencil in some time to move. This can be as simple as stretching out or walking around the block. You could even slot in a half-hour run if your schedule is flexible. After all, this flexibility is one of the work-life balance benefits that freelancers can often enjoy.
4. Reboot your mind
Working freelance takes a great deal of focus, and you may struggle to switch off or unwind at the end of a long day. If you’re looking for ways to reboot your brain, activities like meditation can really help. Meditation is a great way to quiet the mind and can help improve sleep and lower overall stress levels. It’s also vital that you take regular breaks from your work. Don’t just slave away over the same piece for hours, even if you feel like you’re getting nowhere. Sometimes taking a break can reboot the mind and help you break through blocks. It’s one of the work-life balance best practices that many entrepreneurs swear by.
5. Manage commitments
The central work balance idea is the idea that you can juggle and manage commitments yourself while still making time for your home and personal life. This can seem like a huge ask at times, especially with a demanding career. A great way to measure this is to think about how often you get things finished. If you find that you often start things but struggle to finish them on time, it might be advisable to reorganize your methods.
Remember, the key to remote work is staying flexible. It may be that you need to work at times of the day when you feel more productive or take on slightly less work in advance. Although it’s tempting to overbook yourself, ultimately, you will have more success if you strategically manage your commitments. Once you understand this, you will achieve a work-life balance meaning you have more time to pour into work and into the things you love.
There are plenty of work-life balance books out there that offer helpful tips and advice. However, at the end of the day, freelance work is self-led and is all about figuring out which tips work for you. This can take some experimentation and some trial and error. Ultimately, when you feel in control of your career, the effort you put in will all feel worth it. Enjoy your flexibility and freedom – you’ve earned it.