Recently I wrote about feeling burned out on my fashion and lifestyle blog and the top 10 tell-tale signs.
Why? Well, because I was experiencing all of the burnout red flags at the same time. I reached a pretty dark place that I think would have been detrimental to my mental health if I’d have carried on going down that road.
Everybody tells you how amazing it is to be a freelance writer, to run your own business and not have to report to anyone but yourself.
FYI, it is — but what they don’t tell you is how bloody difficult it can be to be a one woman (or man) show.
Just hear me out for a second…
I perform my own service, I do my own editing and I do all of my own marketing. I pitch and generate leads for myself at the same time as actually producing content for existing clients and across my two blogs.
I’m a busy lady, to say the least.
And I’m also one of those people who is super critical of themselves. I don’t give myself enough of a break, I push myself to my limits and I’m harsher on myself than anyone else I know.
Why? Because I want to be the absolute best. I want to produce killer content. I want my friends and family to be proud of me. And I want strangers who I meet in the street or at the supermarket to stop for a second and say, “OMG she’s so inspirational — what a fantastic human being.”
I’ve always had an obsessive need to please people, but what I sometimes forget to do is please myself.
Case in point: For the last however long, my work-life balance has sucked. I’ve been like, an actual hermit. Fur realz.
All I did before a couple of weeks ago was wake up, work for 10 hours and go to bed. Wash, rinse and repeat.
Then it was only a matter of time before I started to realise that my brain had turned to mush. I was struggling to bash out content as effectively as I used to, I was forgetful all the time because I had so much going on in my head all at once, and I was losing sleep.
I was well and truly on my way to burnout.
So what did I do? I took a step back. I had a week off whilst my lovely American BF came to visit. I made more time for me.
And you know what? I came back to work a week later refreshed and ready to seize the day again.
The whole episode made me realise just how important it is to create a work-life balance as a freelance writer or, heck, as a freelancer in general.
There’s only so much one human can take, and only so much that they can overload their brain, before their body starts crying out for a rest.
(Like me, two weeks ago.)
Today, I want to share my tips with you on how you can learn from my mistakes and create a work-life balance as a freelance writer NOW to better yourself and your career.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Have a Regular Routine
First thing’s first, make sure you have a regular routine as a freelance writer. Life is chaotic and messy and, to keep yourself grounded, it helps to have a sense of familiarity throughout your working week.
On a personal level, it also helps me feel more organised. I find if my schedule is all over the place, my brain will be all over the place and I struggle to stay focused on each task at hand.
Instead, it’s nice to have a bit of a routine going and know exactly when you’re working and exactly when you’re finishing for the day so that you can relax afterwards.
Me? I do 8.30am-5.30pm most days, with mornings being my peak time for productivity, but the best advice out there is just to do whatever works for you, pal.
Give Yourself a Break
I’m terrible at having frequent breaks, especially when I’m glued to my laptop due to a 1pm deadline and it’s 9am and the article is yet to be written. Sigh.
(I’m not usually last minute but, hey, sometimes it happens!)If you find that you’re feeling unmotivated, burned out or just can’t concentrate to save your life, take a bit of time out to regroup.Click To Tweet
Whether this is an hour or a day out of your schedule, ain’t nobody going to judge you for it. And, if it helps you to be more productive at work in the long run, it’s worth it — am I right?
Get Up Out of Your Chair
I realise that this one is a little out there, but sometimes creating a successful work-life balance as a freelance writer means being kinder to yourself whilst you’re working. For instance, my BF keeps hounding me about the amount of time I currently spend in my desk chair on any given working day.
Like, seriously — he actually gives me a headache sometimes. (Love you, boo.)
Sure, I hear that sitting is the new smoking, but what am I supposed to do when I’ve got a solid nine hour day ahead of me and I need to spend it all on my laptop to get sh*t done?
“Get up and move around more,” he says. “Movement is good for your circulation,” he says.
All right BF, you win. I now make sure I get out of my chair regularly (even if it’s only to go to the loo) both to please my love and to kiss goodbye to my bad posture.
You guys should too.
Work Somewhere Different
This is another one that’s a little out there, but it’s so easy to get stuck in a bit of a rut when it comes to your working environment.
Sometimes, looking at the same four walls (hands up if you have a bedroom/office) gets tedious and it feels good to step outside your comfort zone and go work somewhere else for a while.
Personally, I love a good coffee shop outing, especially if a Vanilla Soy Latte is on the cards from my boo Starbucks. <3
My point is: It’s good to mix up your surroundings whilst you’re working sometimes as this instantly achieves more of a work-life balance as a freelance writer, especially if it involves going outdoors.
Why, I hear you ask? Well, you’re still working, but you’re also getting out of the house and grabbing a coffee at the same time, like a lot of other people.
Clear Your Mind Through Exercise
One of my favourite ways to kill it in terms of a work-life balance as a freelance writer is to make sure I schedule time in my week to exercise.
Granted, this is the first thing that gets neglected during a particularly busy spell (those of you who can run a freelance writing biz AND workout three or four times a week, I applaud you)! However, I find that just going for a walk around the block or to an hour-long Zumba class really does help declutter my constantly cluttered mind.There's no denying it -- exercise keeps you fit, healthy and active as you hatch your plot for world domination.Click To Tweet
It’s worth keeping up with, even if you’re kicking and screaming and have to force yourself to do it on a regular basis. (I.e. Me.)
Book Frequent Holidays
An oldie but a goodie, planning frequent holidays is ESSENTIAL to your sanity as a freelance writer.
If I go for too long without having a few days off (I’m talking months), I discover that I’m crabbier than usual and my burnout symptoms come back on faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
Having consecutive days off as a freelance writer, whether you’re going on a cruise or simply staying at home to catch up on life admin, is imperative every once in a while.
I realise that a lot of us are workaholics, but taking time away from your biz and pressing the “pause” button sporadically really helps you to gain perspective on your long-term goals and keeps things feeling fresh.
Basically, it’s impossible to achieve the perfect work-life balance as a freelance writer if you’re not willing to take a vacation anytime soon. Think about it.
Speaking of vacations (when you do take one), try not to check your emails every day — okay?
I know it’s difficult, but you do need time to switch off and forget about your biz every one in a while. Trust me, it’ll be waiting for you when you get back.
Another thing that I have a habit of doing is finishing work for the day at 5.30pm and then spending hours on my phone that night researching the latest marketing trend or answering comments on social media when I should be relaxing before the next full day at work.
Unlike me, try to be stricter with yourself and have some boundaries in place so that you can make your working day more focused and productive.
And if you’re struggling? Get someone to hold you accountable. BF, I’m looking at you.
Have Frequent Self-Care Time
It might sound obvious, but scheduling in frequent self-care time is so important if you want a healthy work-life balance as a freelance writer.Sometimes, it’s not enough to just stop working. Sometimes, you need to do little things for yourself to de-stress and reward yourself for how hard you’re working.Click To Tweet
Me? I like to have long, hot bubble baths surrounded by candles. I also love a good Netflix sesh with my current fave TV show or a trashy rom-com.
Essentially, make sure that you do things that you know that you’re going to enjoy following your working day and life will feel like a continuous party.
Don’t Be a Hermit
My final point is not meant to be offensive, as it is something that I’ve been guilty of in the recent past.
Yes — that’s right, kids. I’ve often found myself hibernating as a freelance writer, even though it’s not winter and I’m not a hedgehog.
(Definitely had to Google which animals hibernate in the UK just now.)
To create a happy work-life balance as a freelance writer, you need to make sure you’re getting out enough. Whether that’s to socialise, exercise or pop around to your neighbour Bob’s house for a cheeky cuppa — you need to put yourself in a fresh environment every now and then.
I know it’s difficult, especially when you’re in the early stages of your business and you’re working all hours to get things up and running, but it really does aid your mental health.
I seem to have done a 180 recently and I’m trying to find any excuse possible to leave the house to mix things up — and, when I do, it boosts my mood, clears my mind and makes me feel calmer on a daily basis.
(Fresh air is bae.)
Seriously, try it. I know you won’t be disappointed.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re building any kind of biz in the 21st century. However, the key to happiness and success is creating a healthy work-life balance as a freelance writer.
Don’t be like me. Don’t carry on as you are, burning the candle at both ends until you completely burnout. Instead, put preventative measures in place NOW.
Sure, it’s a work in progress for all of us — we’re only human and we don’t have superpowers (we wish). But give these things a try and I guarantee your mind, body and, heck, your writing will thank you for it. You’ve got this, buddy.