When you own your own business or are a freelancer, managing your work life balance is not as easy as it seems. It’s ironic that many of us choose this career path for the flexibility and freedom yet end up working more hours than those in average nine to five jobs.
The risk of missing that next opportunity, the desire to be available to customers and clients at all times, and the tendency to take on too much can leave us with little time left for the rest of our lives.
In the beginning of your freelance career, passion, enthusiasm, and adrenalin can fuel those 14 hour days and long working weekends however this can’t continue forever.
Remember Why You’re Here
We choose to work for ourselves as we have the ambition and courage to follow our dreams. This is why for many of us work doesn’t feel like a chore at all. Many entrepreneurs and freelancers enjoy their jobs so much that they really don’t mind working all hours.
However, no matter how much you enjoy your vocation, you will benefit from time off. Entrepreneurs are by nature ideas people and only through having a break will you refresh your mind and come up with your best ideas yet.
On top of this you probably started to run your own business so you could spend more time with family and friends. In the beginning they will be super supportive yet as time goes on they may feel a little neglected if you lack the ability to switch off.
Here are some tips on how to ensure you get the most out of work and life so you have the opportunity to reap what you sow.
Choose Your Hours
If you manage your own business full time, it makes sense to choose how you’ll spend those forty hours a week. Will you work 9-5 or will you have the occasional morning off and make up for it in the evening? Regardless of immediate demand for your services or products, few people will expect you to be available after 7pm, so as long as you’ve met your quota you can relax.
Organise Time Wisely
Many self-employed people work from home which is obviously an advantage as it cuts out time consuming commutes. However, we can make the mistake of embracing interruptions believing that this is the flexible way of working.
For instance if you’re interrupted every hour by children asking questions, you may believe that you’re managing work and life brilliantly, as you’re being a parent and a business person all at once; yet it’s these distractions that see many of us answering emails at 10pm just to make up for lost time. Try to segregate your space so your time working from home is spent wisely and let family know that the less distractions you have, the sooner you’ll finish and be all theirs.
Interruptions from clients and customers can also swallow time as you spend hours during the day conversing while getting little done. If you are the head of your own customer care, try organising a slot when you’ll answer emails, attend to Skype calls and chat on the phone during the day. This ensures you’re left free to get on with your work.
Switch Media Off
The smartphone is both a blessing and a curse as although it gives us access to everything we need whenever we need it, it also ensures that we never switch off. Even the new Kindle has the facility to email and download word documents meaning that leisure time can be interrupted by work.
Your family and friends may be too polite to say it but secretly they hate it when you answer your phone during dinner, reply to a text while listening about their day, or even check your emails as you watch Peppa Pig. The only solution is to turn the phone off. It may feel strange at first but you’ll soon realise the benefit of giving loved ones 100% and on the long run it will help you reduce work-related stress and prevent burnout.
Set Yourself Goals
At slower times, self-motivation can become an obstacle for many freelancers and entrepreneurs and a lack of it can see some starting work late, meaning time must be made up in other ways. Try setting a goal that benefits your personal life, such as working towards a family holiday or even buying a new car. It will not only motivate you but will remind you that you chose this direction in order to enhance your life, not just your work. Choose working to live rather than living to work!
Another obstacle self-employed people face is time off. If you’re your own boss you’ll know that no one pays for sick days or holidays. That’s why when many of us feel a small sniffle coming on we’ll work round the clock as we anticipate a few days off with the flu. There are insurances you can buy for just a few pounds a week that cover you should you need time off.
Always be Selling
If you’re worried about not being available all of the time, you can optimise your accounts to be ‘automatic’ salesmen for you, ensuring you will still gain clients and custom while you have time off. For example, set an out of office reply, add a widget for hiring you to your site (we have one coming soon on PPH!), and ensure your profiles sell your services perfectly so it works to convince your customers that you are the right choice even when you’re not there.
Finally if you have the budget for it, delegate. As entrepreneurs and business owners we have a tendency to take on every job believing that no one else would be able to tackle the tasks as proficiently as we can. You can start small with PPH Hourlies, delegating small pieces of work at a time then when you relax with your friends and family you know that the job IS getting done even when you’re not there.
The aim is to earn more and work less and you can do this by giving yourself a break. It’s proven that those who manage their work life balance effectively are more productive in the time they spend at work than those that work round the clock!
Many thanks to Martina for this informative blog post on how to master work life balance. Martina is one of the top freelance copywriters here on PPH and she has many years’ of experience working as her own boss. Check out her Hourlies! And last but not least, a special thanks to our very own Eirini for the illustration!