Getting the freelancer work/life balance right can be tricky with the structure of the workplace removed. As Bees Make Honey say there are many people who:
“..quit their shitty job working for The Man to pursue their dreams… Six months to a year down the line, they’ve replaced that shitty former boss. Who made them work stupid long hours for little extra pay. Who frowned when they didn’t work through lunch close to deadlines. Who failed to properly recognise their achievements. Who didn’t let them take proper time off when they were ill or their nan was dying. They’ve replaced that shitty former boss, with a shittier new boss. Themselves.”
Here are some tips on how to not be a shitty boss to yourself.
Earn Enough That You Aren’t Working Too Many Hours
Once you’ve worked out what services you offer and your rates, you can decide how many hours to work a day/week/month. We all know people who’ve gone freelance and end up working longer hours than when they were working for a company. Unless you REALLY enjoy your freelance role, working fewer hours is the goal. Earning enough per hour to make this pay is key – and this often comes down to confidence. Setting a high rate or raising your rates can be stressful and emotional for various reasons, but you need to do it anyway.
Do you faff around doing pointless things? If so, make a note of how long you spend faffing around and aim to reduce it. Just because other people work nine hours a day doesn’t mean you have to. At the right hourly rates you can work part time and earn enough to live a comfortable life if you want to.
Stick To Your Working Hours
By sticking to this instead of taking ‘just one more little job’ or ‘helping that client out’ you can help get your freelancer work/life balance right and preserve time to spend on the rest of your life – whether that’s spending time with your family, travelling or playing video games.
Not only does this free up your time, it also prevents you feeling run ragged and pressured into doing things for clients. Feeling like that saps your energy longer term and makes freelancing miserable.
Separate Phone For Work
A good way to keep work within the allotted hours is to have a separate phone for work. This doesn’t have to be expensive – a second hand Android phone and GiffGaff SIM can be cheap. The benefits are well worth the cost, as you can turn off this phone or leave it in the office area when you’re finished. Getting a text/email/call about work stuff while you’re trying to relax drags you right back into the work mindset.
Don’t Open Emails When You’re Not “At Work”
It’s tempting to keep checking emails outside of your working hours. What if someone has an issue? What if you’ve got a new project? What if Indian SEO companies can get you to page 1 of Google?
Keep your recreation time to yourself. It can all wait until tomorrow.
Turn Notifications Off
Phones and other devices usually have notifications turned on for every little thing. Apps and services often rely on our attention and engagement, which results in them pestering us constantly to log in or pick up our phones. These notifications usually aren’t time critical and you don’t need to instantly know that somebody followed you on Twitter or ‘liked’ a Facebook post.
Every time you lose focus you are potentially losing money. Setting aside time every day to catch up on social media or emails is a much better way to manage your attention and get your work done.
Once your work is complete, you can then pursue other things and keep your freelancer work/life balance right.
Get Recreation Time And Holidays
If you need a holiday, a mental health day or just a plain old duvet day, take it. The whole point of many people going freelance is so they can be more flexible with their lifestyles. Not taking advantage of that means you may as well be working for someone else. So many things come up that we would otherwise miss when working full time – take those opportunities.
Few people look back on their lives and wish they had worked more. (Number two in the top five ‘regrets of the dying’: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying)
Here we’ve covered some tips to get your freelancer work/life balance tipped in the right direction. If you have any more tips for freelancers on improving their work/life balance, please leave them in the comments below.