Hello, newbie! Welcome to the world of freelancing. We know you might be going through some hurdles, and that is why this article has been written to help you walk through some of them- such as the crucial aspect of work-life balance.
Freelancing can at times, be a two-edged sword. With one edge of the sword, you work at your best, having a lot of time at your disposal for you to spend as you wish, on work and what have you. However, the other edge of the sword can be a bit destructive, because it means you do not have the advantage of having your work hours scheduled for you by a company or an organization- you are your own boss, and your decisions make or mar you. It’s that simple. Or is it?
Some freelancers tend to err on the side of taking on too many jobs, and doing so much work; they break their backs from working so hard, and because there are no closing hours, all of their awake time is spent freelancing, trying to earn the big bucks, being maintained by coffee all of the time.
For some others, however, it is a much harder task to focus on work for long periods. There could be a really nice video on their laptops or the cozy bed which calls to them to have a quick nap- which can very easily extend into 2 hours. Talk about having to be responsible on your own terms!
None of the above approaches is the best, and this post is aimed at making the newbie freelancer aware of this possible lack of delineation between work and play, and help him or her to fully understand the importance of work-life balance.
Have a separate working space
Most freelancers work from home. If this is you, then you would have to pay close attention to this point. There is an atmosphere around your house; and that atmosphere screams of relaxation- for most people, that is. If you would succeed as a freelancer, you would most likely have to separate a portion of your home for the sake of freelancing. You can’t be freelancing at every single place- your bed, your kitchen, your balcony.
Even if it’s just a little portion of your room or a table and a chair which you’d set apart for the sake of freelancing, it helps to pass a message across to certain areas of your brain that in this particular location, work occurs. In other words, you need a ‘home office’.
Have working hours
One mistake which a lot of freelancers tend to make, which would result in a gross imbalance between work and other aspects of life, is the tendency to work at every single time of the day.
While this may be courageous, you are setting a dangerous pattern for the rest of your work-life as a freelancer if you do this consistently. I’d suggest that you work during only certain periods of the day- for instance, for 8 hours during the day, and within a set period.
Having done this, you can have time for other important aspects of your life; like spending time with family.
Track how your time is being spent
It’s possible to spend 3 hours on your laptop and achieve absolutely nothing. If the case is that you’re tired, do yourself a favor and take a break. However, if you don’t have periods during each day when you objectively assess how far you’ve come along during the day, and which goals have been met, you just might find yourself lazing around.
Tracking your time would prevent you from basically wasting time and achieving little- then rushing to complete tasks at odd hours of the day when you should be sleeping.
Drag yourself away from work, if need be. Spend time doing something fun
As a freelancer, you will be tempted to stay at work. Why? Someone else might ask.
Of course, because of money! But during some of these periods, you’d literally have to force yourself away from doing any freelance jobs, because your health is important, your family is important, and your dog as well, is important and needs a walk (nope, not me- I hate dogs!).
At this point, yes, you are allowed to leave the job and do something for fun without being drenched in guilt.
Structure your week
As a newbie, you need to have a proper structure for your week, if you want to have an effective week, and perform all of your tasks. You should probably have a book dedicated to freelancing- with all the jobs which you already have written there, and how you plan to tackle them. You could also make use of sticky notes as reminders for tasks that ought to be done.
With a properly structured week, you are apt to get more done.