The Fine Art Of Work/Life Balance As A Freelancer

Photo: Jens Kreuter

Do you work to live or live to work? This question generally tends to pop up more when we are leaning towards the ‘live to work’ side. A recent study shows that Canadians are struggling more than ever to achieve that desired work-life balance. When we are driven to be successful and equate that with our careers, it doesn’t take long before the balance gets thrown off.  This can be especially true for freelancers whose schedules tend to be unpredictable; their minds naturally shift more towards work because they can’t help but wonder when their next job will come along.

Many of us believe that, in order to get ahead, we have to dedicate so much of our lives to our careers – but how much of our lives are we sacrificing in the meantime? Then, of course, there is the other side of the coin wherein we might feel the need to dedicate more focus to our careers.  Either way, here are some strategies to help you find the balance you desire.

Discover Your Definition Of Balance

Everyone requires a different level of balance to feel truly fulfilled.  What you need to feel satisfied will be completely different from someone else’s requirements. Attaining balance comes down to knowing your specific needs, what your limitations are, and being honest with yourself when you start to feel burnout, loss of control, or when you feel as though you’re missing out in other areas of life.

I recommend creating a list with the different areas that are important to you –career, family, finances, health, fun and entertainment, romance and personal development. Rate each category on a scale of 1–10 in regards to how important it is to you. This will help you discover which areas of your life you want to dedicate more time towards. Then rate each category out of 10 to determine how much time you’re dedicating to them right now. This will show you the areas where balance is lacking so that you can focus on creating a more enjoyable life.

Stay Within Your Limits

Once you discover what it is you need in life to feel more balanced, it’s important for you to stay within those limits. Stick to your personal schedule as much as your work schedule. As a freelancer you can easily work a 12-hour day, which can leave you feeling tired and detract from your personal life. Is it worth it? Studies actually show that a 35-hour work week is ideal to remaining truly productive.

It can be a struggle to get ourselves places after work, but once we actually get out there our energy tends to lift – especially if we’re around people who spike our energy.  You might also feel better about yourself for making the effort and giving yourself a break from work mode. The other benefit is that you’ll become more productive at work and fully engaged because you were able to give your mind the rest it needed.

Create Healthy Habits

There are times when you simply need to get a project done and work might take up a bigger percentage of your balance chart. That’s completely normal. Your work/life balance is constantly going to fluctuate – the main concern is just a matter of how often it’s staying out of whack. The key is to be aware of these moments so you can prepare yourself and plan for specific downtime. After all, 80% of people report that having flexibility in the work schedule is extremely important to work/life balance.

Think about what you’re looking forward to at the end of the day. How do you like to unwind? What’s your form of relaxation? True balance is also being able to stay present in whatever you’re doing.  This might mean turning off your work phone at the end of the day.  Emails can be distracting and take time away from engaging in other interests. Yes, there might be times when you’re waiting for an important email or call to come through, but always ask yourself whether being on your phone is imperative at that moment or just a habit.

What Are You Trying To Prove?

When you find yourself in workaholic mode, ask yourself what you’re trying to prove and to whom you’re really trying to prove it. We can sometimes put so much effort into something but forget to ask ourselves the reasons behind it. Do you want recognition?  Why is that so important to you? Are you looking to make a name for yourself in the freelance world? What will achieving this allow you? Are you looking to feel successful? Why does success have to come from the job you do? Couldn’t success be weighed by finally having the answers to living a balanced life that makes you feel truly satisfied?

Get Help Where You Need It

Spend more of your time doing things that are important to you by outsourcing some of the many must-do tasks and chores that are time consuming. If you’re a freelancer who works from home, it can be challenging to focus on work when there are so many chores that also need to get done sitting right in front of you.

Maybe you don’t want to spend hours cleaning your house – so hire a cleaning service instead. Personally, I didn’t want to spend my free time grocery shopping or cooking so I decided to invest in a meal delivery service. I can’t even tell you how much less stressed I feel just by having that one thing taken off my plate (no pun intended). I’m now able to spend more time on things that matter to me, which gives me the balance I crave – and for that I am truly grateful.

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