It can be difficult to keep work and life matters from becoming enmeshed in a sticky web of overwhelming, unprocessed thoughts. Working as a freelancer, in particular, can often make the struggle of keeping up that all-important work-life balance even more challenging.
That’s not to say that the freelance life isn’t a good one. In fact, the option to work remotely can be a particularly excellent choice. It provides a greater level of personal space and typically doesn’t revolve around social office functions.
But freelancing can be a double-edged sword, as the freedom to dictate your own schedule can make it difficult to prevent work from seeping into every aspect of life.
If you’re a freelancer who is struggling to strike a balance between your professional and personal life — all of which largely takes place within the same space — don’t despair. There are ways to create a sense of purpose and structure that will provide both productive work time and genuine rest.
Why Work-Life Balance Matters?
There are many different reasons that attaining a work-life balance is important.
It doesn’t matter if you head to the office each day or roll out of bed, open up your laptop, and start typing away in your pajamas on the couch, creating a sense of “work time” and “personal time” has a myriad of different benefits.
For example, chronic stress and its many physical ailments — things like acid reflux, heart and blood pressure concerns, and chronic pain — are major issues for professionals in the modern work world. In addition, things like burnout and lackluster employee satisfaction or engagement are increasingly common concerns.
Finding a work-life balance often addresses all of these issues and can restore interest, productivity, and efficiency to your work, while keeping your personal life unadulterated by your professional pursuits.
Work-Life Balance: Freelancer Edition
The poster child of the ideal remote work situation is the modern freelancer — although the truth is, many different industries are allowing employees to work remotely these days.
For this army of remote workers, whether freelancers or contractors, the challenge of properly extricating oneself from work and truly striking that balance becomes much more difficult. They work on their own schedule, often from home, and manage an unpredictable workload that can fluctuate wildly.
If you find that you need a little inspiration in order to bring some much-needed balance to your freelance life, try implementing some of the suggestions below.
Manage Your Time
Time management is a difficult skill to master. And yet, the proper use of one’s time is a critical tool for a freelancer to develop. When you don’t work a 9-to-5 job, it becomes even more important to find ways to organize and manage your time. This helps to provide momentum, gain direction, and allow you to nip procrastination in the bud.
If you haven’t made a meaningful effort to manage your time as a freelancer yet, here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Take some time to set “office hours” and try your best to stick to them. Yes, there will be times that you have to work beyond them, but having that structure can make a huge difference in allowing yourself to check out of work at the end of a long day.
- Turn off your notifications when you can. Constant distractions are an easy way to be derailed by both work and personal concerns. When that happens, it’s easy for work to take much longer than it reasonably should.
- Take breaks. It may seem counterintuitive, but taking a break from a task every 90 minutes or so can do wonders to keep up your productivity and manage your work time.
However, you choose to go about it, make sure to find a method of time management that suits your specific needs.
Keep Tabs on Your Budget
This may sound unrelated to work-life management, but the truth is, the freelance life can be filled with financial concerns. There are obvious things like wondering if you’ll have enough work lined up to pay the bills, but even when finances are healthy, the natural instability of freelance work can still be a bit disconcerting.
In order to help bring some order and stability to your finances, try to create and stick to a budget. Even if you don’t know exactly how much money is coming in, knowing how much is going out can help provide peace of mind.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a young graduate struggling with debt, a single, career-focused professional, or a parent with a young family to care for, setting up a budget can help you to genuinely make a dent in your financial goals.
It’s easy to stay focused on your work at an office where the boss is present and there are fewer interruptions. The home setting, on the other hand, can be an incredibly distracting place to work from.
That’s why it’s important to set up boundaries. Turning off notifications was already mentioned, but in addition to that obvious one, it’s important to make a conscious effort to treat work-time as dedicated time to be focused on work — so, no side chores in between work tasks.
And it’s not interruptible unless there’s an emergency. It’s critical that you make sure your family is aware of these boundaries as well.
If you find that you need a more creative atmosphere, another option is to try to get up earlier or stay up later — whichever one works better for you — when you won’t have as many distractions.
Another option is to head to a local coffee shop where you can tap into some processing disfluency to spark that imagination.
However you go about it, look for ways to make your work time truly work time.
Tailor-Made Detoxing Time
Once you’re done working, it’s important to find your own, unique ways to disconnect from work. Creating rituals and routines can be extremely helpful here.
Some options include:
- Finding a good (non-work related) book to read.
- Taking a bath.
- Going for a jog.
Whatever works for you, the act of setting up a purposeful activity that allows your mind to rest and disengage can be the perfect way to create that hard line between work and life.
Finding Your Ideal Work-Life Balance
It may be easy to identify and address work-life balance for those who physically enter an office space on a regular basis. The situation tends to be a bit more difficult, though, when it comes to those who work remotely.
However, often all that is needed is a little purposeful effort to structure and separate the two elements of life. If you take some time to implement things like creating a budget, practicing good time management, and so on, you’ll likely start feeling the benefits of a rested, productive mind very quickly.