Total control over your work schedule is both a perk and a problem for many freelancers. While you might have more flexibility during the work week, many freelancers find themselves working far more than they did at their 9-5 jobs. Weekends, nights, and even vacations can easily become more time spent on the clock.
Minimal work creep may not be a major concern, but it can quickly impact every area of your life. Partners and friends may get tired of competing with your clients. You may lose sleep to the whirlwind of work-stress-related thoughts constantly running in your head. For Kayleigh Moore, a freelance blogger, overworking even affected her health:
“Turns out existing in a constant state of low-grade anxiety isn’t all that healthy, either. I got really sick. Not only was I dealing with a variety of ongoing health issues, but I couldn’t sleep well and I had terrible back pain from so much sitting at the computer (even with a nice chair.)”
Whether you’re struggling to maintain a healthy work/life balance as a freelancer or you just want to find new ways to maintain your sanity as someone who works from home, use the freelancer-approved advice below to enjoy your best self-employed life.
Smartphones are a technological marvel that have created a sense of being “always on,” even when relaxing at home or making memories with friends. Every ping or buzz sends your hand twitching towards your pocket, even when you’re fully invested in your current situation. And, since you’re in charge of your work time, it can be hard to know when to stop.
Felicity Kay, a freelancer who created her own content agency, experienced this struggle herself.
“I think it’s important to emphasise that freelance copywriters and becoming a freelancer anything is still a job – a sometimes highly unconventional job, where you either sink or swim pretty fast,” she said in her blog. “But, it’s still a job, and without the luxury of externally imposed time and personal boundaries, it’s much easier to feel unmoored, desperate and altogether lost.”
To get more freedom and control, schedule specific work hours during the week. Once you’ve set these clear boundaries, do your best to keep work within those times. Save emails, client messages, and those “just one quick thing” tasks for the next work day. You’ll have less anxiety about your work and be able to enjoy your free time more.
Free time shouldn’t just be an absence of work. Without adequate time away from work, you can lose your edge and forget the reasons you wanted to work for yourself in the first place. Freelance writer Lauren Sharkey recommends prioritizing the things you love to avoid overwhelming stress about your work.
“It can be difficult to give yourself a break, especially when you know you're not going to be paid for it. But constant working will only lead to burnout; something which I have experienced plenty of times.”
Use this time instead to give yourself a breather. Fill your off-hours with the things that bring you joy and make you feel better. This might be regular massages, time spent with family, pursuing a hobby, or just resting in the quiet. It may seem frivolous, but these activities can help you succeed more in your work.
Have you ever shut your computer down at night, only to realize you haven’t left the house all day? I know I have. When you only deal with work-from-home jobs, it’s easy to fall into a work-focused rut. This is bad for your health and sanity, which can also affect your focus and ability to perform.
Practicing self-care doesn’t have to be intense or time-consuming. Instead, work small activities into your schedule. Take your dog for a long walk in the evening or follow a yoga lesson on YouTube. Eat a meal on your patio. Take small moments to restore your energy and stop thinking about work stress. And drink plenty of water while you do it! Coffee may seem like your best friend, but your awareness and overall health will benefit from adequate hydration.
When your income depends on work-from-home online jobs, it’s hard to turn away opportunities for money. Taking too much on leads to more stress and potential for poor work, however, so remind yourself that it’s okay to say no to jobs that don’t fit your criteria or schedule. You won’t feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up and you’ll have a more healthy relationship with your work. As Kayleigh Moore says,
“If you’re a people-pleasing person like me that JUST WANTS EVERYONE TO LIKE HER, DAMNIT, this is a hard thing to learn. But I did, and it helped me be more selective about how I invested my time and energy...which also made me resent my work a lot less.”
When you’re a freelancer, even if you only complete work-from-home jobs part-time, it’s easy to get lonely. You don’t have coworkers to rely on for regular human interaction, so make it a point to pursue relationships. Network with other freelancers in your local area or through an online group. Rent a coworking space once a week to change up your scenery and meet new people. At the very least, call your mom or best friend regularly to fill your social needs and protect your mental health.
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