By far one of the most difficult aspects of being your own boss is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. You may think you’ll have all this freedom, but in reality, you could end up working more than a regular 9-5 if you’re not prepared.
In this blog post, I’ll cover the strategies you can use to have more free time without sacrificing your productivity.
Develop a routine
Some people prefer to get up early in the morning, exercise, and get to work. Others (like me) are night owls and work into the late night, and sometimes early morning. I’ve read arguments for both sides, but you need to find a schedule and routine that works best for you.
When I started freelancing I would wake up, do a few push-ups, sometimes go on a run, meditate, have a filling breakfast, and then shower before going to work. I would often sleep during the day if I knew I had to work at night.Developing a daily routine is the first step to creating more work-life balance as a self-employed freelancer. Click To Tweet
Set a schedule
Use Google Calendar for blocking out time to work on your tasks and projects, and inviting your clients and teammates to meetings.
The tomato timer technique times you on 25 minutes of uninterrupted work (called Pomodoros), followed by 5-minute breaks. After 4 pomodoros, you get to take a longer break.
Remember to set your work hours, and your “offline” hours. If you don’t, your friends and family will bother you while you work, or your work will bother you when you’re with friends and family.
Personally, I like to get most of my work done on Mondays through Thursdays, and I never work on Saturday or Sunday evenings.
Cut out distractions
When you work from home, you’re constantly faced with distractions: video games, a comfy bed, your children, your pets.
You can limit distractions by finding an office, cafe, or library you can work in, then listening to some music to drown out the background noise.
Limit your time on your phone and on social media too–these can be the biggest time wasters when you’re working. StayFocusd helps block distracting websites when you’re in the zone. Freedom, although paid, can help block distracting apps.
Together, all you’ll have to worry about is the work you have on hand.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
Don’t just have a to-do list, order your tasks by urgency and importance, otherwise, you’ll constantly be doing “busy work”.
Set some time during the day for following up with clients and seeing if they have everything they need. It’s easy to get wrapped up on the tiny things, like clearing out your email or organizing your files, but maintaining healthy relationships should always be number one.
And while work is important, try to get most of your work out the way if you know you have dinner with your parents or an errand for a sibling. Work should never come in between you and your family.When planning out your daily tasks, be sure to set some time during the day for following up with client. This will help you build a better relationship that can lead to more work. Click To Tweet
Be picky and learn to say “no”
Early on, I was stressed out trying to find enough work to pay for rent. I would take on the lowest paying gigs working more than I slept, and staying indoors more than I went outside.
In the end, you can’t win them all. You have to choose your battles, and sometimes flat out reject client offers. If a client is expecting several hours of work for less than my standard rate, I just say “no.”
Yes, it was scary at first, but it freed me up to focus on the tasks that actually rewarded me for hard work.
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for at least a “20% rejection rate”. That means 20% of your potential leads should deny you for charging too high. That’s how you can focus on better-paying work.
Finding the perfect balance
Self-employment is a tough journey. There were times when I wanted to find a normal job just because I couldn’t handle the stress of balancing freelancing and a normal home life.
But over time each new client taught me something new: independence, discipline, and standing up for your skills. Your journey will have its own set of challenges and triumphs. And they’re all worth it to be your own boss.
Leo Herrera is a freelance writer based in Chicago, IL. His writing has been featured in Profile, Chicago Mag, Buffer, and more. When he’s not writing, Leo spends his time designing video games, producing music, and working on short films.