Full disclosure: it’s a good sign when work is busy, but not when you start experiencing burnout red flags thanks to a poor work-life balance as a freelancer.
This happened to me fairly recently. I was working long hours, I was too tired to socialise and I didn’t give myself enough rest in between projects. Needless to say, 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 freelancer, run your own business and not have to report to anyone but yourself.
Don’t get me wrong – it is. That said, what they don’t tell you is how darn difficult it can be to be a one-woman (or man) show. There are so many hats to wear and so little hours in the day!
If like me, you’ve been struggling to work as effectively as you used to, you’re forgetful all the time and you keep losing sleep, it’s to say goodbye to freelance exhaustion and hello to healthy living once again.
Read on to find out how to create a good work-life balance as a freelancer NOW to avoid burnout LATER.
Develop a Regular Routine
Firstly, the entrepreneurial life is chaotic and messy and it helps to have a sense of familiarity throughout your working week to keep yourself grounded.
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 create a regular routine and know exactly when you’re working and exactly when you’re finishing for the day. This way, you can see the end is in sight and look forward to relaxing afterwards.
Personally, mornings are my peak time for productivity, but the best advice I can give you is just to do whatever works for you, pal.
Give Yourself a Break
Want another way of creating a work-life balance as a freelancer? Take regular breaks.
I know – it sounds obvious, right? But it’s amazing how many people disobey this one simple rule.
…Me included. I’m terrible at having frequent breaks when I’m in the zone with a blog post and I just want to carry on and get it written already.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 a few minutes, an hour or a whole day out of your schedule, ain’t nobody going to judge you for taking some time out for you. And if it helps your productivity at work in the long run, then it’s going to be worth it – am I right?
Get Up Out of Your Chair
Sometimes creating a successful work-life balance as a freelancer 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.
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 stuff 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 during those particularly busy days (even if it’s only to go to the loo) to both please my love and kiss goodbye to my bad posture.
And as much as I hate to admit it, it has helped me to feel less stiff and achy since I implemented this change. Seriously. You guys should try it.
Work Somewhere Different
Another top tip to get it right when it comes to your work-life balance as a freelancer is to change up your work environment.
Why? Well, it’s so easy to get stuck in a bit of a rut when it comes to looking at the same four walls (hands up if you have a bedroom/office) and being in the same place all the time.
The solution? Step outside your comfort zone and work somewhere else for a while.
And if involves going outside? Even better! It feels good to get some fresh air, doesn’t it?
Personally, I love a good coffee shop outing, especially if a Vanilla Soy Latte is on the cards from my boo Starbucks. <3
Either way, you can still be productive while working somewhere different (and arguably even more so) but you’re getting added benefits by leaving the house/office and experiencing a change of scenery. Win-win.
Clear Your Mind Through Exercise
One of my favourite ways to kill it in terms of a work-life balance as a freelancer is to make sure I schedule exercise time.
Granted, this is the first thing that gets neglected during an especially busy spell (those of you who can run a freelance biz AND workout three or four times a week, I salute you!) However, I find that just going for a walk around the block or participating to an hour-long Zumba class can really 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 exercise, even if you’re kicking and screaming and have to force yourself to do it on a regular basis (it me) because the benefits are unparalleled.
Book Frequent Holidays
An oldie but a goodie, planning frequent holidays is ESSENTIAL if you’re running a freelancing biz.
If I go for too long without having a few days off (I’m talking months), I find 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 freelancer, 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.
To put it simply: it’s impossible to achieve the perfect work-life balance as a freelancer if you’re never willing to take time off. 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 need a bit of time to switch off and forget about your biz every one in a while. Trust me, it’ll still be waiting for you when you get back.
Another thing that I had a habit of doing when I first launched my blogging biz was finishing 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 have been relaxing before the next full day at work.
Now I’m much stricter with myself and refuse to do anything work-related after I’ve done for the day so that I can make the next working day more productive.
Still 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 freelancer.Sometimes, it’s not enough to just stop working. You need to do little things for yourself to de-stress and reward yourself for how hard you’re working.Click To Tweet
Personally, 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, it’s just something that I found myself doing in the recent past.
Yes – that’s right, folks. I often found myself hibernating as a freelancer, 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 freelancer, 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.
Seriously, try it. I know you won’t be disappointed.
Creating the Perfect Work-Life Balance as a Freelancer
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 freelancer.
Don’t carry on as you are, burning the candle at both ends until you completely burn out. Instead, put preventative measures in place NOW to save yourself the stress LATER.
Sure, it’s a work in progress for all of us. We’re only human, we’re not perfect in any way, shape or form and we don’t have superpowers. (But we sure wish we did, right?).
But the trick is to be as kind to yourself as possible and I guarantee your mind, body and – heck – the quality of your work will thank you for it. You’ve got this, buddy.
How do you create a good work-life balance as a freelancer? Let me know in the comments!