I’ve seen work-life balance listed as a perk on hundreds of jobs. When an employer adds it to a job listing, I feel it nearly screams, “We won’t make you stay past 5! We care about you as a person!” Sometimes it might even be true. Regardless of how many employers try to offer flexible schedules and remote opportunities, the workplace is changing and more employees are leaving their salaried jobs to freelance.
People choose to freelance for plenty of different reasons, but according to a survey by FlexJobs, attaining a healthier work-life balance was the top reason listed. However, when they’re first starting out, many freelancers discover they don’t actually work less. At times, they may find themselves working more than ever before, although they may be doing it at 2 in the morning in their pajamas.
Freelancing isn’t easy, and it requires a lot of discipline and drive to be successful. If you’re new to freelancing and you already feel overwhelmed, you might ask yourself if it’s truly possible to have a healthy work-life balance with this lifestyle. Let’s talk about what balance as a freelancer may look like and how you can achieve it.
What Motivates You?
To figure out how to balance your work with the rest of your life as a freelancer, we have to first examine what motivated you to become a freelancer in the first place. Was it the flexible schedule? The drive to increase your income? A desire to spend more time with family? It may even be all three.
We have to look at motivations because if your main motivation is money for example, you may have a harder time striking a balance with your schedule. It might be more challenging for you to say no to jobs and set boundaries. But knowing that increasing your income is a priority also shows you what gigs you should prioritize.
As a fellow freelancer, I encourage to ask yourself these three questions:
What do I hope to gain from freelancing?
What does my ideal freelancer schedule look like?
What parts of freelancing fulfill me and what parts drain me?
Your journey to finding balance in your freelancing career depends on your individual goals and motivations. For me, being able to stay home with my children is my biggest motivator. So even if I have to get work done late at night or during naptime, getting to be a parent first motivates me to keep going.
Is Work-life Balance Achievable?
Work-life balance usually refers to drawing a line between work life and personal life so that you’re able to balance them both. This may seem simple when you commute to an office and can physically leave your work behind at the end of the day. But when you work at home and are in charge of your own schedule, the lines between your work life and personal life can become blurred, leading you to struggle to focus on both work and personal matters.
Work-life balance is achievable as a freelancer but to achieve it you have to know your own limits and keep your priorities straight. Let others hold you accountable to the boundaries you set and find a few other freelancers to be in community with to keep yourself from getting lost in your work.
Tips for Achieving Balance
Trying to balance everything in your life as a freelancer takes a lot of effort and energy. Here are my tips for ensuring you have a healthy work-life balance:
This is probably the most important tip and also the most difficult. When you first start out as a freelancer, it can feel like boundaries are not possible. You’re still trying to establish a routine and you’re either overwhelmed with work or spending every waking hour trying to find work. If you don’t set boundaries and take time for yourself, you’ll get burned out pretty quickly. The beauty of freelancing is you can choose when you want to work, but be sure you decide what your ideal schedule is and try to stick to it as best as you can.
Learn to say no
This is a hard one for freelancers because what’s one more project, right? But is that one project going to keep you from resting? Is it going to keep you from spending time with your kids? We all have to make sacrifices at times, but don’t take on something that you know you really don’t have time or energy for. If it’s not time-sensitive, tell the client you can add them to your waitlist. And if not, then you have to be okay with turning down the job.
Don’t undersell yourself
The reality is, as a freelancer, you’re never going to have the life you want if you keep working for pennies. Sure, there’s something to offering low rates when you’re first starting out, but at some point, you have to have confidence in the value of your work. The more profitable each job is, the more flexibility you have to build your business, take a vacation, or spend time on anything else that fulfills you.
Don’t trust one person’s opinion
There’s nothing that can unravel a creative person like harsh criticism from a client or fellow creative professional. It may even persuade you to start offering lower rates or take work you know you’re overqualified for. Even some of the most well-known artists and authors were rejected and highly criticized at times. Be honest about your abilities, but don’t let one person derail the path you’re on.
Keep What’s Important in Mind
Becoming a successful freelancer is hard work, and you may spend way more time than you expected working on your business. If you’re able to swing it, freelancing can be an excellent way to increase your income while traveling the world or raising a family. That’s the best about being a freelancer- you have control over what your life looks like. When achieving work-life balance feels impossible, remember that you have control over your schedule, so create a balance that works for you.