Achieving work-life balance as a freelancer and keeping burnout at bay
In today’s world, where we are all “always connected”, maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be challenging.
For independent contractors, the line between personal and professional life is even more blurred. We all know about the benefits of freelancing - you work where you want and when you want. However, this inherent lack of boundaries and structure is precisely what leads to burnout, stress, and frustration.
Create a schedule
As we said, one of the greatest appeals of freelancing is flexibility. However, once you realise you’re spending more time working than full-time employees, the novelty quickly wears off.
Creating a schedule makes it easier to know when it’s okay to work and when it’s not. You won’t need to work the traditional 9-to-5, though. A more flexible schedule, where you’ll wake up earlier and try to be done by 3 PM, can work wonders.
Be firm with loved ones
People often think of freelancers as individuals who are available at all times. However, the fact that you’re home doesn’t mean you’re not working.
If you’re constantly dealing with distractions, have an honest chat with your family/flatmates. Explain to them that they’re messing up your productivity and that they shouldn’t bother you when you’re in “focus mode”.
Things can get particularly challenging with children - they rarely understand the idea of “working hours”. In such cases, the best thing you can do is hire some help.
Find a productive workspace
Yes, you have the freedom to work from the couch. That doesn’t mean you should, though.
Having a designated workspace means you’ll always be able to close the door on the workday. This way, you’ll be setting a boundary between work and home, which is of crucial importance if you want to avoid burnout.
Also, to get your work-life balance right, consider working somewhere different from time to time. For example, working at a coffee shop provides a change of scenery and allows you to meet other freelancers doing the same thing.
Don’t be a hermit
Engaging with other people is vital for mental health. Unfortunately, freelancing can be a fairly isolating experience. Staying home alone for most of the day is yet another thing that can lead to burnout.
Working at coffee shops, as we already mentioned, is one way to tackle this issue. However, the key is in making time for friends and family on a regular basis. Social interactions are incredibly important - they will rejuvenate you and help you stay sane and productive.
Whenever you reach your maximum capacity, consider delegating projects to other professionals in your field. Letting someone take the excess work off your hands is a great way to relieve the stress.
Also, consider outsourcing business aspects you’re not fully familiar with, such as finances, marketing, or link building. Outsourcing will free up some of your time, which you can then use for leisure or to take on extra work.
Schedule your working weeks in advance
As an independent contractor, the calendar is your essential tool for time management. Use it to plan ahead and organize your upcoming working week.
This includes both the professional and personal items, ranging from private goals to meetings with clients. Jot down all things that need to be done and schedule them for the upcoming days.
A working week that’s planned in advance helps with maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It makes time management a lot easier and keeps one from getting overworked.
Learn to say no
When you’re a freelancer, falling into the trap of saying yes to all requests is way too easy. After all, you’re relying on your own hustling skills to make money - why would you refuse?
However, saying yes too many times usually leads to an overwhelming, sky-high pile of work.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to accept absolutely every offer you receive. Think before giving an answer. Is the price too good to turn it down? Do you have enough time to deal with yet another task? Learn to say no when you have to, and you’ll never have to deal with burnout.
Taking breaks within your working hours is essential - turn it into a habit. Breathe, relax, stretch, exercise, have a cup of tea or coffee.
To reduce stress and keep burnout at bay, carve out some time for things you’re passionate about. Are you into sports, painting, or cooking? Recharge yourself by engaging in your favourite activities during breaks.
Moreover, make sure to reward yourself with a vacation when you need it the most. Don’t hesitate to ask for permission from clients - even the best freelancers need to take some time off.
For freelancers, finding work-life balance can be a challenge. However, with just a little bit of forethought and planning, you can successfully keep burnout at bay and prevent work from dominating your personal life.
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