Finding Your Balance as a Freelancer
One of the biggest struggles freelancers face is finding a healthy work/life balance.
Whether you’re trying to balance your freelancing work with the demands of a part-time job and/or with family obligations, getting it all done can be a real challenge.
There’s just so much that needs to be done and so much that you’d like to do if you had more time. It’s no wonder that finding a comfortable balance is such a big issue for so many freelancers.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the true reasons why freelancers struggle with work/life balance. We’ll also explain how you can overcome some of the challenges that keep you from living a balanced freelancing life.
How to Address the Real Issues
Does it seem like you always have too many things to do and too little time to do them in?
While many people struggle to find enough time to do everything they want to do, new freelancers are often surprised when their work/life balance issues don’t automatically disappear after they start freelancing. After all, with freelancing you’re in charge of what you do and when you do it. Balancing your life shouldn’t be an issue, should it?
What are the real reasons why you can’t achieve work/life balance as a freelancer? It’s likely that one of these five culprits is the root cause of your work/life balance issues:
- Unrealistic Expectations. Some freelancers start freelancing with the (mostly) unrealistic belief that they will earn a full-time income in just a few hours a day (or week). While this sometimes happens, it is not the norm for most freelancers. For most freelancers, a project takes the same amount time to do whether you are at home or at a workplace. So, if you have a six-hour project to do, be sure to schedule six hours of your time to get the work done.
- Time Management Problems. As a freelancer, no one is looking over your shoulder to make sure that you get things done. If you procrastinate or waste time, no one is there to get you back on track. And, as a freelancer, it’s so very easy to lose track of time. Before you know it, a “short” break can engulf your entire day. But if you don’t manage your time well, you’ll find yourself rushed (and yes, out of balance) as you try to catch up on work that you should already have finished.
- Uneven Workflow. The infamous freelancer feast or famine cycle has another side. It also disrupts your work/life balance. Either you have too much time for your life (not enough work) or you have too much work for your time (the freelancing “feast”). Over time, you can learn to manage the feast or famine cycle by negotiating better deadlines for yourself. If you’re already very busy, try to adjust the deadlines for new projects so that you won’t be rushed.
- Lack of Boundaries. Do you let your clients take advantage of you? Do they call you at all times of the day and night? Are they constantly sending you last minute projects that need to be done by yesterday? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you probably need to establish some boundaries for your freelancing business. One way to do this is to establish a window of time when you address client issues and stick to it.
- Work Smart. Use your tools and skills efficiently. If you find yourself doing the same few tasks over and over, see if you can develop a standard routine for these tasks that will save you time. Likewise, if you know that prospects always ask for specific information (your background, your portfolio information, etc.), put together a standard response. Or, better yet, publish the information in a prominent place on your freelancing website. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Finding the right work/life balance for you takes a conscious effort and deliberate planning on your part. It probably won’t happen overnight. However, addressing these five factors should help you improve your overall work/life balance.
Have you struggled with this problem? How do you manage work/life balance as a freelancer?
Share your best tips in the comments below.
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