In this “always connected” world we live in, maintaining a work-life balance has become increasingly more difficult. For many independent workers, the lines between work and life are even more blurred. While the freelance lifestyle affords you the freedom to work for yourself, anytime and from anywhere you choose, this inherent lack of structure and boundaries can quickly make freelance work an overwhelming presence in your life.
Of course, building your own business is a wonderful thing, but maintaining a balance between your work and non-work efforts is vital in establishing a well-balanced life that will keep you loving that business. So what can you do when work starts taking over your life?
From the freelance pros at Moonlighting, here are eight tips for creating a work-life balance in the midst of a productive and lucrative freelance lifestyle.
1. Set a (flexible) schedule
While much of the appeal of freelancing is schedule flexibility, this novelty will eventually wear off when you find yourself putting in more hours than the average full-time employee. Creating a loose work schedule will give you “permission” to take time off and keep you from feeling obligated to work every waking hour.
But this doesn’t mean you need to work the traditional 9-to-5. If you do your best work in the morning, then wake up early and knock out your work. When you are done at 3pm, the rest of the day is yours. Structure can help set boundaries, but that said, flexibility is key for maintaining work-life balance, so allow yourself the flexibility to take a day off if you aren’t feeling well, or to rework your schedule because a friend is coming into town at the last minute, or just because you plain don’t feel like it.
2. Set aside “work time” for running your business
As a business owner, you are not only responsible for the actual contracted work but also all the administrative, financial, business development, sales, and marketing tasks. Be sure that you schedule time in your work day to seek out future job opportunities, maintain client relationships, manage the books, schedule social media posts, maintain your website, and all those other fun tasks that are now yours. Schedule time for all these activities during the hours you want to be working, not during your “off-hours.”
3. Don’t overcommit
As an independent contractor, it’s easy to feel compelled to take on as much as you can while its available. More clients means more money and greater stability, right? But overcommitting yourself can lead to burn out, missed deadlines, or subpar work quality. Know how much you can reasonably handle at one time, and if you have to say ‘no’, say ‘no’. Clients will understand and may even take that has a sign of how good you are because you are in-demand. Let them know when you will be available or ask them to give you more lead time for future projects.
4. Outsource when there’s too much
If you have reached your max capacity, don’t be afraid to delegate new projects to another pro who can take it off your hands and relieve the stress. Build relationships with other freelancers in your field so you know who you can trust to handle your overflow.
You may also consider outsourcing some of the aspects of your business that are outside your wheelhouse such as the marketing or finances. Look to freelance marketplaces like Moonlighting to find experts in any field. Outsourcing can free up more time for you to take on additional work and subsequently, lead to a higher earnings during your self-established work hours or afford you more personal time to spend not working.
5. Designate a working space
Just because you can work from your couch doesn’t mean you should. Physically separating work and business can be as important as mentally disconnecting the two. Set up a home office that you love to be in or find a coffee shop or co-working space you like. A place to work outside the house, even if it’s just occasionally, can keep you productive and be great for work-life balance.
6. Leave time for the things you love
When your work life starts bleeding into your home life, the things you really care about can be the first to go. Achieving work-life balance means prioritizing non-work activities, such as exercise, cooking, or spending time with family. If the “life” part of your life starts to slip, it’s time to check-in and recalibrate.
Also, consider using your daily breaks to do the things you love. A break won’t really feel like a break if you’re mindlessly browsing Twitter in your home office. Get up and do something active to recharge your batteries. And of course, don’t deny yourself a vacation when you need it.
7. Communicate when you’re “out of office”
Clients can often forget that you’re not actually available 24/7. Set the right expectations with your client by communicating the days and hours you are available and be sure when you’ve signed off for the day, you don’t go back in to field texts or emails during your “off-hours”. This goes for vacation time as well: make sure you communicate with clients ahead of time and set an “out of office” message that states you will have no access to phone or email. Then don’t check either while you’re away.
8. Schedule your week in advance
Your calendar is an essential tool for time management as an independent contractor. To avoid getting overworked, set aside some time to plan your week and organize your calendar. This includes your personal and professional items, ranging from meetings and events to personal goals and priorities. List out everything that you need to get done and schedule these activities each day. When you plan your week in advance, you’ll have a better chance of managing your time and following through on your established schedule.
Are you ready to start your own freelance business or try out a few side gigs to get the feel of freelancing? No matter what path you choose, kick-start your freelance business by joining the amazing community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and gig workers on Moonlighting. Sign up or download the app today – Free!
This article was originally featured by USA Today.