Time and again countless people from a variety of professions choose to go solo and choose a career as a freelancer. However, finding the right balance between working hours and regular life can seem a bit overwhelming. Here are some tips and strategies for ensuring you have enough time for your projects and plenty of time for family and friends.
1. Establish working hours
While one of the most attractive facets of freelance life is working when you want to, it is best to set specific hours each day devoted to your work. The great thing here is that you can still choose your hours – whether it be starting at 5 am or finishing at 11 pm – it’s completely your choice. By having dedicated hours for work, you can more easily turn off your computer and step away from your projects so that you don’t end up working all the time.
2. Don’t be on call
Similar to the first point, don’t be on call for your clients. Set appointments ahead of time and try to avoid giving your phone number to clients. Arrange calls and appointments when you are both available to reserve your off hours for leisure or family time.
3. Focus on one thing at a time
Despite those who champion multitasking, you are truly more productive when you focus on a single task. Multitasking often leads to carelessness and mistakes. Instead, choose a single task and complete it before moving onto the next task.
4. Get dressed
This may seem pretty obvious, but getting dressed will help you prepare for the workday. It is a great trick for preparing your mind to go from “home mode” to “work mode” even if you work from home. Getting dressed and looking presentable is also helpful in case you have an unexpected Skype call or video chat.
5. Get out
In the mornings and evenings (or whenever you plan your work hours), walk to work. If you work from home, this can be as simple as walking around the block. The point is that you have the feeling of starting your day. Similarly, when you take breaks, go outside or leave your office space. Stepping away from your desk can help clear your mind and provide you with a better focus upon return.
6. Stay organized
This is incredibly important to achieve number 3: focus. Having a clutter-free desk, digital and/or paper files that are easy to locate, and a space that you can easily function in are important to increasing your productivity and remaining focused while working on projects.
7. Unplug from digital life
In order to remain focused and make the most of your time, try unplugging from digital life. Obviously, many freelancers work with Internet-based tools, but we are referring mainly to social media and email. Another common problem that freelancers have is receiving personal calls and messages on their phone. Here, it might be worth investing in a work-only phone that you use to make client calls. The same goes for email. You should probably consider using a work-only email, so you’re not simultaneously receiving cat videos from your friends and important emails from clients.
8. Find a time management technique
If you can’t seem to figure out how to manage your time, then you might want to look into strategies like the Pomodoro technique or GTD. Another tool is a Kanban board, which can help visualize the tasks you need to complete.
9. Consider alternative office space
Many freelancers who start off working at home realize that it can be a bit too difficult to stop working. At this point, you might want to consider an office space outside your home where you can work in order to have a clear distinction between work life and home life. There are many options available now, from finding a desk at a coworking space to renting a small office with a couple other freelancers.
10. Get the right rate
This might not seem to relate to work/life balance, but it has a huge impact on how you work. If you do not price yourself competitively, then you will feel obligated to work more because you’re not making enough money. By charging clients a fair price, you are helping yourself out.