Freelancing: Mastering the art of work-life balance

If your freelance work is blending in with your personal life in a way that’s draining & maybe even unsustainable, we've got some news (but mostly tips) for you.
Freelancing: Mastering the art of work-life balance
Share it!

Hero image by Isha Gaines

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the workplace is changing. With those changes comes the need to re-evaluate how we manage our work-life balance. Whether you’ve just begun to dip your toe in the world of freelance or you’re juggling the needs of multiple clients, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a necessity. In this article we’ll discuss four tips that can help you master the art of work-life balance while you grow as a freelancer. 

1. Leave work at work

The beauty of freelance is that you can do it anywhere at any time, right? The ability to answer emails from the comfort of your home, car, makeshift dining room desk, etc. is truly amazing, but it can also be a burden or step closer to burn out. The key to managing your work-life balance as a freelancer is to leave work at work and do your best to not let deadlines, emails, and projects take over every waking moment of your day. 

One of the most valuable work-life balance techniques I learned while I was a social worker is to create an unplugging practice for the end of your day. If possible, try your best to officially be done with work at a specific time each day. The time can vary depending on what you have going on, but be disciplined about stepping away for the day. When that time comes, engage in an “unplugging” type of ritual that signals to your brain, “okay, this is it for today. I will come back to you (contract, project, invoice, demanding client email, etc.) tomorrow”.

An “unplugging” or “end-of-day” ritual can involve closing out all of your tabs and tidying up your desk, or maybe shutting your laptop and picturing yourself literally unplugging from the wall of your work. Maybe going on a walk at the end of the day to clear your head and make that shift could help too! We’d definitely recommend checking out a meditation/mindfulness app like Shine or Headspace to recenter yourself after a long work day. Practicing the discipline of turning your work brain off can do wonders for your work-life balance. <tweet-link>You have to do what you need to prioritize rest, discipline, and refilling your cup in the world of freelance.<tweet-link>

You can find more tips on setting and maintaining your freelance schedule here

2. Set boundaries and try to avoid feeling guilty when you stick with them

As a freelancer it can be so easy to feel like you have to give your all at all times to the work you do. You want to do your job well and sometimes that involves going above and beyond for your clients, we get it. At the same time, try to remember that giving every part of yourself without clear boundaries and expectations can stretch you too thin and even lead to producing lower quality work. Communicate clearly when clients can get a hold of you, and most importantly when they cannot. Being very clear about your current capacity to take on and complete a project sets a tone of transparency and ensures that you are prioritizing your work-life balance as well.

It’s still totally possible that after you’ve done your job in setting clear boundaries and expectations with a client, they might come at you with unrealistic demands or needs. Just know that you can refer back to the boundaries you set at the beginning of your working relationship and stick to them without feeling obligated to break those boundaries. 

3. Make space for your non-work life

Your work is your passion. If it wasn’t, you probably wouldn’t be freelancing. We think that is amazing, but even our biggest passions can take away from other important areas of our life. When you make space in your life for other passions and hobbies that are totally unrelated to your freelance life you foster your desire to keep learning and growing personally and professionally. In the world of Hectic we call this staying hungry.  Hiking, biking, playing around with a new art form, whatever it may be, it all has the potential to ignite that spark in us that most likely brought us to freelancing in the first place. Making space for our non-work life can also bring balance between the work we do and the people we are outside of work. So, find other passions that allow you to be creative in a way that is totally unrelated to what you do for a living and we promise you will still have (and might even increase) the capacity you need to get the job done. 

4. Receive gratitude and inspiration from the work you do

When you love and value yourself, you will be better prepared to maintain boundaries with your freelance career and engage with the tips listed above. <tweet-link>A healthy relationship/balance between your work and your personal life cannot exist if you are constantly giving and not receiving from the work you do.<tweet-link> We highly recommend scheduling some time to consistently reflect on how freelancing is life-giving to you, what you’re grateful for, and how you see yourself growing in your career. Shining light on these things will only serve you well in the long run.

You got into freelance because you have skills that can serve your clients well, but you also most likely got into it because it’s a type of work that felt like a breath of fresh air in a world of 9-5 smog. If the way you’re running your freelance business is draining you more than it’s filling you up, then it’s time to readjust. It’s time to find balance. 

If you’d like to learn more about balancing your life with your freelance work head on over to our guide on The Art of Freelancing. Remember, Hectic is here to help. You don’t have to do this balancing act all on your own.

Share it!
Contributor
Contributor
Marissa Morrow
Marissa Morrow is a Colorado native who loves all things poetry, photography and music. Currently a full time staff member with Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Marissa spends her off time doing photoshoots with her husband for their photography business, Morrow Manor Photography, and hanging out with their two cats. Marissa has been writing ever since she was young and finds storytelling in the form of poetry and photography to be one of the best forms of therapy. As a former advocate for victims of domestic violence she is passionate about social justice issues, self-care, and inspiring others with her art.
More By This Contributor
Hey, Freelancer.
Control your freelance business so it stops controlling you. From client to project management, time tracking, invoicing, and everything in-between — Stay on top of it all in one intuitive platform with Hectic.

I highly recommend this platform if you're a freelancer seeking a client/project management system that allows you to focus on nothing else but the quality of your work.

Jason Little