How to Fit Freelancing Into the Rest of Your Life

Freelancing is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.

You’ve probably heard that statement before, and in a sense, it’s true. But lifestyle or not, one of the biggest struggles that freelancers face is balancing work and life.

This is ironic, because the search for work/life balance is one of the primary motivators that drives many to freelancing.

Is work/life balance really possible? The answer is yes–usually, but not perfectly and not always. A balanced life takes some planning.

And of course, there will be some times when you feel that your life is more balanced and other times when you feel that it is less balanced. That’s just normal.

In this post, I’ll provide some tips to help you to integrate your freelancing career into the rest of your life. With a bit of work on your part, you should be on your way to finding a better work/life balance.

Know Yourself

What enables you to do your best work?

  • Do you need quiet, or do you thrive in the midst of chaos?
  • Are you your most creative first thing in the morning, or are you best late at night?
  • What inspires you? Some freelancers are inspired by music, others by art or nature.
  • Does clutter bother you, or can you work just about anywhere?

Once you understand what enables you to do your best work, you can make sure that your work environment fits the bill.

Be Realistic

Even though, as a freelancer, you are likely now working at home–eight hours of work still takes eight hours to complete.

Know what you are committed to and how much time you really have to devote to your freelance work each day.

Too many freelancers take on more than they could possibly handle. You may feel more comfortable at home and you may have fewer interruptions, but becoming a freelancer doesn’t mean that you can suddenly achieve double the workload that you used to handle.

Make sure that your rates are high enough so that you don’t feel financial pressure to take on more work than you can realistically handle.

Plan for Breaks

Everyone needs a break from work. Taking a break is an important part of work/life balance.

Since you’re self-employed as a freelancer, it may seem like you could take off from work whenever you felt like it. But, that’s just not the case.

As a freelancer, you may not have to ask a boss for permission to take a vacation–but you still need to make plans to make sure that vacation happens.

Here are some easy steps to get ready for a freelancing vacation:

  1. Notify long-term and recurring clients that you will be taking a vacation.
  2. Plan what you will tell new prospects who contact you immediately before or during your time off.
  3. Decide how connected you will be during your break. Some freelancers check email while others go completely off the grid.

Don’t Reinvent Everything

It’s likely that you are paid for original work as a freelancer. Whether you’re a writer, a designer, a programmer, or some other type of freelancer–your clients want fresh and innovative ideas.

Just because your work is original, it doesn’t mean that your administrative processes have to be new each time you perform a task. As much as possible, develop standard responses for the following situations and adapt them for each new situation:

  • Initial contact letter
  • Freelancer agreement
  • Invoice Letter
  • Collection letter

The more you standardize your administrative tasks, the more time that you will save.

Nurture Yourself

You do so much for so many people. You make time for your clients, your family, and your friends–yet, you rarely make time for yourself.

If you would live a balanced life, it’s important to take time for those things that help you to feel good. Whether it’s prayer, meditation, or even a hobby–make sure to schedule some time each day to nurture yourself.

You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of time each on self-nurturing. Just spend enough time that you need to feel good and healthy for that day.

What Do You Think?

Remember, your work/life balance won’t always be perfect. However, you can definitely make sure that there is a comfortable balance between freelancing and your personal life most of the time.

How do you maintain work/life balance? Share your experiences and suggestions in the comments.

Image by Martin Lopatka