You’ve worked really hard to build up your business for months, maybe even for years. At last, your freelance business has taken off. Finally, you can kick back and relax. Finally, you can work on your personal projects. Finally, you can spend time with friends and family. Right?
If you’re like most successful freelancers, then you probably already know that relaxation doesn’t happen automatically once you’ve succeeded. In fact, you may find that suddenly there is not enough time in the day to get everything done that you need to do.
Successful freelancers can find more time for themselves. To do it, however, you will need to adjust both your behavior and your mindset.
Here are some suggestions to help:
#1 — Confront Your Fear
Many freelancers who overwork do so out of fear. Fear is particularly powerful in a difficult economy like the one that we are facing now.
If you say “no” to a client, then you may wonder if they will ever contact you for work again. Fear constricts your throat. Even though your freelance business has been supporting you for some time now, you picture yourself without work and unable to pay your family’s bills. In such a scenario, what do you do?
The frightened freelancer says “yes” to the client, even though they already have a full workload. They then work nights and weekends to get the extra work done.
Here is what you should do instead:
- First, remind yourself that this is not a panic situation. The client contacted you because they value your work. They will likely contact you again.
- Second, negotiate the deadline.
- Third, if the deadline is immovable then refer the client to a competent colleague.
#2 — Go On a Project Diet
Finding more personal time is a lot like going on a diet. To diet successfully you have to cut out unnecessary calories; to find more personal time you have to cut out unnecessary work.
Most freelancers actually perform many tasks that don’t really benefit their business or contribute to their bottom line.
Before you start a new project, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this project contribute to my bottom line?
- Do I know for sure that I will get additional work from this project?
- Is the actual return on my time worth it?
- Will I get credit for this project?
- Am I being paid a fair rate for this project?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, take a good hard look at the project before you start it. It might be unnecessary work.
#3 — Cut Your Expenses
If you are anything like me, then you need to earn x number of dollars each month to make ends meet. Not only does that x number of dollars include my business expenses, it also includes the amount that I must contribute to the family budget so that our family can stay afloat.
Reducing the number of dollars that you need to earn each month can give you the freedom to be more selective about the projects you accept.
Here are some tips for cutting expenses:
- Print less. Instead of printing a document, try this tip. Create a .pdf file, zip it, and store it on your machine. Printing less will reduce both your paper costs and your toner costs.
- Shop around for utilities. If you’ve been with your utility provider (phone, electricity, water, internet provider) for some time, shop around to see if a less expensive service is now available in your area.
- Look for cheaper alternatives. Do you still have both a home phone and a cell phone? Could you make do with just a cell phone? Would an Internet-based phone service be even cheaper? Do you live in an area with good public transportation? Could you eliminate one of your cars if you used public transportation more often?
- Take advantage of sales and special offers. A bargain conscious consumer can often save 50%, or more, on purchases just by timing their purchases to coincide with sales and special offers. You can use this strategy to reduce both your personal and your business costs.
#4 — Get Help
Many business advisors recommend that you expand your business after you reach a certain point. If you are constantly running out of time to do the things that you really want to do, then you may have reached that point. It may be time to get some help.
Getting help could mean any, or all, of the following:
- Hiring an employee
- Taking on a partner
- Outsourcing some of your work
- Talking to a consultant about how to streamline your processes
Share Your Own Strategies
What about you? What strategies have you used to get more personal time?
Share your ideas in the comments.
Image by CJ Sorg