Ever noticed that most of the work–life balance advice articles floating around the Internet are geared toward 9-to-5ers? We have, too. First of all, this leaves our service industry friends out of the mix (we appreciate you!). Second, we freelancers tend to have multiple income streams. While 9-to-5ers work one job, we work dozens per month. So, how can we achieve this famous work–life balance? Easier said than done. Let’s take a look…
Set a schedule — and stick to it
9-to-5ers are bad about checking work email after hours — but for freelancers, there often isn’t an “after hours.” When we have clients messaging us at all hours, it’s tempting to try to be the Best Freelancer Ever and respond promptly. After all, you have to keep the client happy, right?
Here’s a secret about clients: They will notice if you respond at 2 am and decide that it’s perfectly okay to message you then. They won’t, however, notice if you wait until normal hours to get back to them. So, set your working hours, and don’t deviate from them. Your sanity will thank you.
Take regular breaks
Freelancers tend to have different sorts of projects and a variety of deadlines throughout the week. You might be knocking out a couple of quick tasks, then working on a longer-term project, alternating between regular clients and those you’ve picked up on Upwork or Fiverr. In other words, you’re shifting gears a lot — and that can be exhausting.
To keep your head on straight, take regular breaks — and lots of them. They don’t have to be long. Just get up to stretch your legs after each task, and take a walk around your block at least once during the workday. You’ll be amazed by how many ideas shake loose, and how much more productive you are when you return to your work.
Find creative outlets outside your work
Most freelancers are creative types: writers, designers, strategists, coders, etc. It’s easy to feel mentally drained after you’ve finished with client projects, and at a certain point, you might run out of steam. It may sound counterintuitive, but the best way to keep those creative juices flowing is to…keep those creative juices flowing!
You need a creative hobby — one that’s relatively separate from your primary work. It can something earthy and domestic, like cooking, gardening, or knitting, or more high-brow, such as painting and pottery. Take time away from your freelance work to indulge in this hobby. You’ll keep your creative spirit nourished without burning out your money-making skills.
Work–life balance is just that: balance. As freelancers, we tend to take on lots of work because hey, we can. But without allowing time for other aspects of our lives, we can easily slide into burnout, which negatively affects both work AND life. To stay healthy and sane, set clear boundaries and give yourself time to relax and reflect. Your freelancing career will thank you for it.