Freelancing can be an amazing way to build your career, thanks to numerous advantages that come with it. You are practically your own boss; you don’t have to commute, you get to choose the projects you work on, and you create your own schedule. And if various stats are anything to go by, freelancers are happy with their choice, with the majority reporting in surveys that they live the lifestyle they want.
On the other hand, freelancing certainly comes with unique hurdles. Getting clients and making a stable income month after month is a common concern among freelancers, as well as burnout. Fortunately, these issues can be overcome (at least to some extent) with good self-management, but some freelancers are better at it than others.
That’s why finding a good work-life balance as a freelancer is ultimately a personal thing. So, to determine what the ideal work-life balance is for you and how to find it, check out the following tips.
1. Decide Which Values Matter to You the Most
We live in an era where working overtime is often glorified, so achieving a healthy work-life balance can actually seem like settling for less. Neither is completely true or false because each and every one of us has something different that makes us tick, which is why it’s important to identify your core values and needs first. If your career matters to you the most, which is perfectly legitimate, then you would create a schedule that emphasizes your work and leaves less time for other aspects of your life.
If you prefer to exercise regularly, take long walks, and spend time with your family and friends, then your idea of work-life balance will involve minimal overtime, if any. There are plenty of other factors to take into account, such as making an impact, giving back to the community, solving problems, or getting recognition for your work. You can pick any combo of priorities and come up with a freelance arrangement that works for you.
2. Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health
Freelancing involves spending a lot of time in front of your computer. A lot. But humans simply aren’t built for the sedentary lifestyle, and the freelancing experience can often be very isolating, as you’re working on your own all the time.
That’s why you need to take care of your physical and mental health, especially if you value your career more than anything else. Regardless of your idea of work-life balance, you need to eat well, be active, and make time to decompress from work and relieve stress. It’s not even about being fit – it’s about being able to function physically in order to implement your personal idea of work-life balance.
In the words of Morpheus, “The body cannot live without the mind.” So, paying attention to your emotions is just as crucial as meal planning, if not more so. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress or negative emotions, or if you feel angry, dissatisfied, or resentful, you need to take a step back and scale down your hustling efforts.
You need to be in a good place emotionally if you want to be productive and healthy. Don’t hesitate to find a therapist who will help you process all these emotions and equip you to work toward finding a greater sense of wellbeing.
3. Make Sure Your Schedule Is Flexible
Every balancing act requires you to make constant tweaks and adjustments, and your approach to work-life balance is no different. One of the major appeals of freelancing is flexibility, so why not make use of it when creating a schedule for yourself?
The problem with flexibility, however, is that some freelancers take it too far. They either put their work on the backburner in favor of everything else, or they take on more work than full-time employees.
The key is to make flexibility work for you. If you have additional costs coming up next month, you can increase your workload to boost your income. If you have friends or family coming over, you might choose to work late into the night so you can spend an entire day with them the next day. Remember that flexibility means you can work less, too. That’s especially when you aren’t feeling well or you’d rather take a day off so that you can be more productive afterward.
4. Communicate Your Needs and Negotiate Terms
Ultimately, work-life balance is not so much of a goal as it is an ongoing process that involves communicating with your clients, collaborators, and family members openly and honestly. Be clear about your needs, be understanding about the needs of others, and set boundaries and expectations. Of course, when your needs clash with someone else’s, you will need to negotiate different terms that work for both parties, be it your workload or your rate.
You will come across plenty of situations that will require you to adjust your current approach. For instance, you might want to change a certain job arrangement or take on more household responsibilities or be more involved in childcare. In other words, your idea of work-life balance might change over time, and that’s OK.
The great thing about finding your personal work-life balance is that it requires you to think about your priorities. Once you determine your core values, you will be able to build your career around them in a way that works for you. We wish you the best of luck!