Balancing Work and Life: How 10 Freelancers Find Harmony
Balancing work and personal life is a challenge many freelancers face. To provide some guidance, we've gathered ten insightful strategies from experienced Founders and Consultants. From embracing ergonomics and technology to boosting productivity with digital tools, these professionals share their tried-and-true methods for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
- Embracing Ergonomics and Technology
- Learning to Say No and Rest
- Setting Boundaries and Enjoying Personal Time
- Improving Productivity Through Communication
- Designating Work Hours and Prioritizing Health
- Overcoming Procrastination and Minimizing Distractions
- Adhering to a Strict Schedule
- Implementing Time-Blocking for Balance
- Enjoy the Weekends With Thoughtful Planning
- Boosting Productivity With Digital Tools
Embracing Ergonomics and Technology
My freelance journey has taught me the art of work-life balance. When freelancing, or in any working environment, maintaining that balance is paramount. First, I've embraced ergonomics to enhance my work environment. A comfortable chair and a standing desk keep physical strain at bay and promote productivity.
I set strict work hours and adhere to them diligently. This ensures I have time to focus on my personal life without work spilling over. Creating a clear division between work and personal time is crucial.
Additionally, I've harnessed technology to my advantage. AI tools and scheduling tools, such as Trello, help streamline tasks, giving me more time for relaxation. Efficient workflow management through technology is a game-changer for freelancers.
In the freelance world, establishing boundaries, embracing ergonomics, and harnessing technology can help you survive long-term and thrive while preserving your work-life balance.
Learning to Say No and Rest
When I first started my business in 2011, I was working just about seven days a week. I felt that the more time I put into the business, the more successful I would be. I was slowly killing myself.
I couldn't sleep, and I gained weight. The quality of my work suffered. Now, after years of experience, I have office hours. Besides that, I put my phone on "Do Not Disturb" when I don't want any distractions. If a client texts me at 6:30 a.m.—yes, one of them did—I will ignore it until business hours. I also learned to say no to projects I don't feel comfortable doing.
I exercise daily and I rest at least one day a week. God gave us the best advice when He said to work six days and rest for one day (Exodus 10:9-10). Believe me, it works!
Setting Boundaries and Enjoying Personal Time
Since embarking on my remote work journey in 2020, life has felt like navigating a roller coaster during a storm. Amid cross-country moves, the joy and challenge of a new baby, and managing two energetic kids during pandemic chaos, the lines between "work" and "home" started to blur alarmingly. There were nights, lost in work at 3 a.m., that had me questioning everything.
But burnout isn't a life sentence. I took a moment to hit pause and rethink. Shuffling my workspaces—like enjoying the fresh air at my Target bistro table on the patio—gave me a breath of new life. Setting manageable goals, sprinkled with small rewards, rekindled my passion.
Most crucially, I set boundaries. Having a non-negotiable cut-off, whether it's 5 p.m. or a late 7 p.m., became my anchor. Recharging outside of work, with simple joys like walks, time with pets, or just soaking in some sun, became invaluable. It's crucial to remember that your well-being takes the spotlight. Deep breaths, and let go of that stress.
Improving Productivity Through Communication
My business consumed me until I learned I needed—and could—put up a boundary with communication. I used to pride myself on responding to all emails, Slack messages, and texts quickly, and this was reinforced when people told me they loved it ("Wow, that was so fast, thanks!").
However, I discovered that always switching what I was doing to respond detracted from my productivity. So, I set expectations on when I would respond. And guess what? My productivity went up, and I didn't lose any business.
Designating Work Hours and Prioritizing Health
As a freelancer, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is paramount. Several strategies have been implemented to ensure personal well-being while managing professional responsibilities. Clear boundaries are set by designating specific work hours and ensuring that clients are aware of availability. This helps in managing expectations.
A dedicated workspace allows for the physical separation of professional tasks from personal life, aiding in mental detachment from work during off-hours. To avoid burnout, regular breaks are scheduled during work, and time is made for hobbies and activities that rejuvenate the mind and body.
Health is prioritized by incorporating regular exercise and a balanced diet into the daily routine. This ensures that there is physical and mental readiness to handle professional obligations effectively.
Overcoming Procrastination and Minimizing Distractions
To maintain a healthy work-life balance as a freelancer, I employ key strategies and boundaries. Procrastination can disrupt this balance, so I break tasks into smaller steps, set deadlines, and create a focused work environment. Cultivating a growth mindset and self-discipline helps overcome procrastination.
Minimizing distractions is crucial for productivity. I have a dedicated workspace free from interruptions, set clear boundaries with family or roommates during work hours, and use productivity tools to block distracting websites. These measures help me maintain a balanced and fulfilling work-life routine.
Adhering to a Strict Schedule
I maintain a work-life balance by creating a schedule for each role and strictly adhering to it. Work hours start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m., no exceptions. Working remotely presents a challenge in distinguishing between work and personal life, but I suggest educating your employees and family about your availability to maintain harmony in both areas.
Implementing Time-Blocking for Balance
Sometimes, as a freelancer, it can be hard to set boundaries because the more you work, the more money you can make. This is where time-blocking comes in. Every day, commit to setting aside certain blocks of time where you do zero work. Instead, work on your health, read a book, or spend time with people you care for.
Also, block off time for sleep and other activities, and give yourself at least one day off each week. I wrote the Amazon bestseller, "Back After Burnout," partly because I broke all of these rules. I was so fixated on driving revenue that I neglected the things that really mattered to me. Now, I'm on a mission to help others live better, more joyful lives, and balance is a key component.
Enjoy the Weekends With Thoughtful Planning
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a freelancer on Upwork is vital. I set clear working hours and boundaries, prioritize tasks, and plan breaks. I avoid over-committing, delegate when needed, and use time management tools.
Separating work and personal space is crucial. Regular workload evaluation and self-care are priorities. Financial planning ensures downtime without stress, and continuous learning keeps me competitive.
I don't work during weekends, choosing to answer all queries on Monday. Regular review and adjustment of strategies and boundaries help me strike a sustainable balance between professional responsibilities and personal well-being.
Boosting Productivity With Digital Tools
Using digital tools can significantly impact work efficiency. For example, website blockers are used to maintain a focus on tasks and avoid distractions. These can be customized to allow access to essential work-related sites or even set up scheduled blocking sessions.
Currently, StayFocusd is being used—a popular browser extension designed to boost productivity by limiting access to distracting websites and online content. Besides its different modes, the extension also provides statistics and insights into online behavior. This is an excellent way to gain visibility on digital habits.
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