5 major signs you have a work-life imbalance

Creating an effective work-life balance is difficult for everyone. Here are five major signs that you have a work-life imbalance, plus how to create a balance.
5 major signs you have a work-life imbalance

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Have you become one of the estimated 59 million American freelancers in the past year? Or have you been doing freelance for a while?

Freelancers are now a vital part of the workforce. Experts predict that by 2028, there’ll be over 90.1 million people managing their own work. “Being your own boss” is great, but can lead to a work-life imbalance.

Are you tipping the scales toward all work and no play? Keep reading to find major signs of an imbalance and how to rebalance the scales.

What is work-life balance?

The work-life balance meaning focuses on how you prioritize business and personal activities. It’s the ability to equalize the demands of business, personal, and family life.

Before the internet, laptops, WiFi, and the cloud, workers were often tied to an office. Paperwork might be brought home or late hours spent at the job on the computer, but it wasn't normalized. There was a more defined work time.

As technology advanced, we gained the ability to work in remote settings. This opened up opportunities for freelancers to realize their dream. Now, people work when and where they want. No more time clocks or begging for time off.

While this offers many benefits, it also blurs the lines between work and home. And when you don't have a boss to tell you to go home at the end of the day, you may find yourself working overly long hours on a regular basis.

Signs that you have a work-life imbalance

Unfortunately, many freelancers are having trouble finding work and life balance. While you no longer have to clock in, are you ever clocking out? The following describes signs that you’re experiencing work-life imbalance.

1. Stress

Do you feel anxious, depressed, moody, restless, dread, or hopeless? Do you have panic attacks or even think of suicide?

Freelancers may find that they’re staying up later and having trouble sleeping. Many individuals sit more, exercise less, and grab a quick bite or skip eating.

Since many freelancers lack health insurance, they can’t afford mental health services. They also don’t get routine checkups leading to health problems.

Freelancers often feel like they need to do more in less time. The paycheck depends on providing products and services. There’s no base salary or paid time off if you’re sick.

When your stress level increases, you’re less productive and more prone to errors. Stress also compromises your immune system increasing your health risks.

2. Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome describes an ongoing belief that you don’t deserve your success. Many people think they don’t in fact have the needed skills.

Many freelancers feel like they can’t keep up with the demands. They worry that their work isn’t good enough and they’ll lose clients and income.

3. You're always working

Are you working most of the day and taking fewer or no breaks? Freelancers often feel so pressured to complete tasks that they don’t take calls or texts.

Customers often contact you at their convenience. They know you don’t work “at an office” so they’re comfortable calling or texting anytime. Freelancers can find themselves answering messages in the evening and on weekends.

Your income revolves around customer satisfaction so you fear upsetting them. The customer doesn’t understand that it’s your personal time and they’re not the only client.

4. Feelings of loneliness

While you receive many texts, emails, and social media messages, it’s not human contact. For some people, being alone is relaxing and they enjoy it.

Other people thrive on interpersonal interaction. No matter what your temperament is, people need contact.

Freelancers may spend most of their time alone. There’s no one in the next cubicle cracking jokes or expressing common frustrations. When work takes up most of your time, you miss out on interactions with friends and family.

5. Burn Out

Not finding a balance between work and personal life, can cause burnout. The freelance work stops feeling meaningful and you only go through the motions. You lose fulfilling connections between colleagues or clients.

So how can you re-establish a work-life balance?

Tools are now available for freelancers to help increase efficiency and success. They will guide you in taking the following actions to take to make freelancing fun and exciting.

1. Establish boundaries

Like brick-and-mortar businesses, set business hours and stick to them. At the start of a client relationship, define your business hours. Tell them that you’ll respond to after-hour messages the next workday.

This defines expectations so that the client understands how to interact. Consider including this in your standard contract. Remember, they can’t go to their favorite boutique after it closes, so don’t feel guilty.

2. Give your brain a rest

A freelancer’s brain may constantly work on problems and solutions. It can be hard to turn this off.

Adhere to your set schedule. Then move to personal activities so your brain can recharge.

Structured schedules help you organize and prioritize activities, so you finish on time. Make sure to includes meals and other breaks.

Join an exercise class or sports team that meets at a set time. Your body needs the movement, and you’ll stop thinking about work during your activity.

3. Get off the grid

We may live in a digital world but set times to disconnect. Stop yourself from “quickly checking” to see if you have messages. Your business has closed.

Turn your attention to family, friends, hobbies, entertainment, and other interests. You’ll find that you feel refreshed and energized when you return to work.

4. Optimize your productivity

One of the biggest struggles with adhering to boundaries is task deadlines. When you are behind on the work, you have to throw the boundary out the window. Right?

Upfront planning and focus can help reduce deadline stress. Give the client a realistic finish date from the start. If the project changes, you may need to adjust that commitment.

Most of all, make sure that the project has your full concentration during work time. Use resource tools to keep you on track and let you know if you’re getting behind. This leads to increased efficiency and avoids the final-hour panic.

Are you ready to optimize your freelancing?

Moxie’s platform helps you manage all of your client and project management, time tracking, and accounting in one place, saving you from having to find the note you took 3 days ago or searching your email for a client's information. It also has tools for invoicing, business development, and writing proposals and contracts. You’ll feel in control and on top of your freelance activity.

Start finding your work-life balance today by finding more tips in our ultimate freelancer guide, The art of freelancing.

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Darryl Kelly
Darryl Kelly
Darryl shares what he's learned as both a freelance photographer and freelance consultant. His experience as a freelancer is what led him to co-found Hectic.
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