Once you get into the flow of working as a freelancer or contractor, it becomes easy to overlook your work-life balance. But as Steve Jobs rightly said, “the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” So to help you manage the boundaries between your personal and professional lives, here are our five tips:
- Don’t blur the lines between your personal and professional lives
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. You’ll experience days when it makes more sense to work overtime because you’ve got into the zone or have an impending deadline to fulfil. This is fine to an extent but if you find yourself regularly working late into the night – or, worse, weekends – you need to stop, reassess, and start afresh the next day.
The repercussions of working long hours are serious. Research has shown that you’ll not only make yourself more susceptible to weight gain amongst other health problems, but also to unproductivity – hours that could be better spent catching up on sleep so you’re refreshed to power through the next working day.
With the exception of having to work overtime, make it a priority to finish work each day at the same time. This will encourage you to be more time-efficient by organising your various projects, leaving you with the time in the evenings to unwind; whether that means watching your favourite TV shows, eating a home-cooked meal, or playing sports.
- Get an additional phoneline
In a continued bid to keep the harmony between your home and work lives, it’s worth investing in either a secondary phoneline for your home office or a mobile phone reserved only for work-related calls.
Once you’ve finished work for the day, simply switch off your phone and reconnect with your personal phone to catch up with your nearest and dearest. The key is to remember that your private interests shouldn’t be hindered by your professional commitments and vice versa.
- Develop professional connections with clients
Clients keep your freelancing business afloat – without them, you’ll have no option but to return to or get a regular 9 to 5 role. In a market saturated with talent, it may seem counterintuitive to pick quality over quantity. However, the former is important to consider – both in terms of picking clients and projects – if you want steady, long-term success.
Working with the same group of clients means you’ve previously laid the groundwork to establish a compatible working relationship. This sense of mutual respect and understanding paves the way for you to undertake well-rounded projects, making use of your strongest skills, rather than many which will have you scrambling under the pressures of different expectations and time constraints.
- Nurture your personal relationships
When you’re busy trying to manage a work-life balance, it’s easy to neglect your partner, family, and friends. These personal relationships remain a constant in your life and provide you with much-needed moral support, comfort, and security; regardless of whether you’re in the midst of a project or searching for one. So it’s important – if not most important – to dedicate time and effort to them.
Refrain from talking about work at length, unless a serious issue is bothering you. Otherwise, pick up from where you last left off. Research has shown that taking short mental breaks will in fact help you stay focused on your work so if you feel you’ve done enough work for the week, feel free to set it aside in favour of catching up time with loved ones.
- Eat healthily
Similar to how it’s a good idea to organise your day of tasks, it’s crucial to take care of what you eat during your working day. Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner will help you stay on track with your workload. Brain-boosting foods, including blueberries, almonds, salmon, avocado, whole grains, and dark chocolate are a good place to start.