According to Statista, 59 million people were doing freelance work in the U.S. in 2020. Because so many people lost or changed jobs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, that number is likely to continue to rise.
People turn to freelance for a variety of reasons. It allows you to be your own boss. You can set your own hours, choose the type of clients you want to take on, and ultimately decide how much you want to work.
But, at the end of the day, freelancers still have bills to pay. With so many people working in the gig economy, competition is fierce. So, it’s not uncommon for gig workers to take on as much work as they can when they can.
Unfortunately, that leads many freelancers to burn the candle at both ends and work too much. That can harm your work-life balance, increase stress levels, and even cause problems with your mental and physical health.
So, what can you do to make sure you’re working smarter, not harder? How can you strike a healthy work-life balance and have a successful freelance career without sacrificing your personal life?
No matter how much work you have to do in a day, make sure to take frequent breaks. If you’re worried that taking a break will cause you to lose your focus and productivity, science has your back. One study found that the top 10% of productive workers work an average of 52 minutes at a time before taking a 17-minute break. How does that help?
- You’ll work with more purpose when you know you have a break coming up
- It’s just enough work time to avoid cognitive boredom
- Standing and moving around can give you more energy and improve your focus
You can do just about anything during your break time, but make sure you’re not thinking about work. If you really want to get the most out of your breaks, try spending some time outside, eating a healthy snack, or simply sitting somewhere quiet and letting your mind wander.
You should be taking multiple breaks throughout the day and even working to regularly schedule them in. Don’t wait until you’re feeling burnt out to step away from your work. Beat the burnout before it happens by making breaks a priority. You might be surprised at how much you can get done when you’re reenergized after a short break. Plus, stepping away from work multiple times a day can help you feel like you’re not being suffocated by your job, so you can enjoy small moments of “life” throughout the day.
Create a Routine
Everyone benefits from routine. But, when you have a job that allows you to work from home, establishing a healthy routine is even more important. It will keep you more productive when you have to work and make it easier to separate your work life from your home life.
One of the best things you can do to encourage a daily routine is to set up a home office space. Ideally, that means having an entire room dedicated to your work. If you live in a smaller space or can’t take up a whole room, there are plenty of effective options. When you’re putting together a home office, keep the following in mind:
- Utilize the space you have
- Create opportunities for movement
- Keep things organized
- Keep your space organized and clean
- Make it personal
When you have a dedicated office space to go to each day, you can use the rest of your home for your personal life. Your routine should involve going into your office every day at a certain time and leaving it behind at a certain time.
Think about the routine you might have to establish if you worked in person for a business. You would have to get up at the same time each day, go through the same morning rituals, and drive to work. When your job is at home, your routine might look a bit different. But, it’s still beneficial to wake up to a specific alarm each day and have a routine in place that puts you in a work mindset.
Having a daily routine sets out your work-life balance for you. That doesn’t mean you have to work “9-to-5” and sing Dolly Parton songs. Choose a routine and working hours that fit with your needs, but make sure each day includes plenty of free time, too.
Self-care can seem more like a buzzword than anything else nowadays. But, it’s more important than ever, and one of the best ways to manage stress.
Self-care looks different for everyone. It doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money or go on some luxurious vacation. Instead, you should focus on little things that can boost your overall well-being every day. If you’re looking for daily self-care suggestions, try some of the following:
- Going for a brisk walk
- Taking a warm bath
- Creating a home “spa day”
- Cooking your favourite meal
Spending time with loved ones is another great way to prioritise self-care. Being a freelancer tends to mean you spend a lot of time on your own. That can be great for staying productive, but everyone needs social interaction – even if you’re a natural introvert!
As a freelancer, you might need to put in extra effort to spend time with the people you care about. Part of that can come from your routine and ending your workday at a decent hour. But, if you want to spend more time with friends, schedule it. Get together at least once a week with people who make you feel uplifted and energized.
Additionally, take the time to plan out special, fun events. Is there a holiday, birthday, or anniversary coming up? Whether you want to plan a small party or just a dinner at home with the person you love, having something to look forward to can boost your energy and your spirits.
Freelancing has many benefits, but it’s important not to get overwhelmed by your job when you’re working for yourself. Keep these tips in mind to strike a healthy work-life balance and avoid burning out quickly.