Freelancing doesn’t have to mean vitamin D deficiencies, nonexistent friends, and a poor diet. With 56.7 million Americans freelancing last year, you can imagine these habits could quickly become a nightmare.
As the world becomes more digitally connected, it becomes increasingly harder to achieve an ideal work-life balance. But failing to do so doesn’t mean you have to give up freelancing. With a few adjustments to boost productivity and separate life from work, balance is possible.
Set a (flexible) schedule.
There’s a reason we put flexible in parenthesis–because it isn’t always the case with freelancing. The novelty of schedule flexibility eventually wears off when you find yourself working more hours than the average full-time employee.
Because there isn’t technically anyone managing you, you need to give yourself “permission” to be flexible with your time. This means setting a detailed schedule that outlines both your working and non-working hours–even if it comes down to planning each hour of your day.
Only take what you can handle.
A big part of creative freelancing is working with multiple clients and projects simultaneously. This has the potential to quickly become overwhelming, especially if you don’t set a limit on your capacity–which is another commonly forgotten key to freelancing.
Like food, you have to try really hard not to allow your eyes to become bigger than your stomach. While extra cash sounds great at the moment, baby steps are needed to ensure you have the time and brain capacity to handle it all.
Overcommitting is easy as a freelancer, especially when just starting out. The most important thing here is to learn how to say “no.” It’s better to accomplish a few projects than none at all–even if that means minimizing your workload.
Invest in your workspace.
Everyone works differently–some excel as expats, while others need to be in the same office space every day. No matter your preference, investing in the spaces you work in can actually help separate your personal life from your work life.
If your space doesn’t allow you to stay focused and more importantly, comfortable, you’re more likely to get distracted. Why does this matter? It’s simple–procrastination. The more you procrastinate, the more time you waste and the less time you’ll have to yourself.
It’s not always just about how you work, but how your environment works for you. Just because your remote work environment seems efficient, doesn’t mean that it actually is. There’s always room to improve it as you explore what works for you.
Boost your productivity with:
- Private work desk/area
- Comfortable seating
- Dedicated Internet browsers
- Physical or phone stopwatch
- Music speakers
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Physical agendas/calendars
Make time for the things you love.
The biggest part of improving work-life balance is actually holding yourself to the deal. It’s easy to load yourself with work obligations, but not so easy when it comes to personal ones. Work-life balance is a 50-50 tradeoff–you can’t neglect work and you can’t neglect life.
Making time for the things you love can help keep you motivated during the hours you do work. Whether that be family, friends, or hobbies, they’re all just as important as your paycheck. Overworking can lead to burning out and not making time for yourself can expedite that danger.
Communicate your boundaries.
Now that you’ve got all the aspects of freelancing down, you need to work on communication. Setting your boundaries isn’t just only with yourself, but with everyone else you collaborate or connect with regularly.
Whether clients, managers, or colleagues, you need to communicate your needs with them. For example, if you prefer a public working space, make sure your clients know that. If you prefer finishing your day before 5-6 pm, then make that clear too.
Part of a healthy balance is making sure everyone around you is on the same page. By not making your boundaries clear, you run the risk of others interfering with your time. That’s the easiest way for your efforts to be extinguished.
Improving your work-life balance doesn’t have to be a struggle and you certainly shouldn't feel guilty about it. No one knows your work ethic or style like you do, so it’s up to you to make the change that’ll eventually change everything else in your world.