One of the most challenging parts of being a freelancer is to find a balance between work and the rest of your life. Since most freelancers work directly from home, it can be difficult to find a distinction between work life and home life.
My life is a prime example of this difficulty. When my son was born in 2008, I left a career in the legal field to write from home, giving me to the opportunity to be with my son and still supplement our income. Three years (and a second child) later, I find myself trying to balance teaching and entertaining a 3-year-old and newly crawling 8-month-old, four freelance writing jobs, running my photography business and overseeing the children’s department at our church. Some might say I take on too much – I say that I prefer to be constantly on the go.
Stay Organized, Stay Sane
Yet, chaos can easily creep in to a busy schedule if you fail to organize. Chaos keeps us from reaching deadlines and meeting personal goals. It can also lead to burn-out and make you feel overwhelmed, because of all the work you still have ahead of you and the uncertainty of when it will get done. Creating a structured work schedule, especially as a freelancer, will help you to stay on task and reach goals more efficiently. It will also help you to produce quality work.
Set Reasonable Goals
My first recommendation would be to determine how much work you must accomplish each week in order to meet your minimum income needs and break that down into daily goals. It important to not be overworked, therefore, I recommend working only five days a week, even if you only work part-time. Even a part-time schedule can feel full-time if you do it every single day. This strategy also gives you two “back-up” days if something comes up during the week and you can’t get your daily quota accomplished.
Your Personal “Time-Clock”
Next, determine the part of the day in which you produce your best work. For me, it’s during my sons’ nap time, so that I am able to give my work full concentration. For you it may be after a good workout at the gym, upon returning home from dropping your kids off at school, or even after everyone is in bed. Whatever time works best for you, set that time aside each day for work. If a doctor’s appointment or something else interrupts your normal work time, substitute the hours later in the day or week, but you should try and stick to a normal “work schedule” for each day as much as possible.
Be sure to write down any deadlines you have and, working backward from that deadline, determine what you need to accomplish each day in order to reach it effectively, without cramming all of the work into an all-nighter. Setting daily and weekly goals will also help you to stay on task during your “work time” and avoid distractions.
Balance Work and Family Life
I truly recommend taking things one step further, especially if you have children in the home. Schedule time just for your kids each day so that they know they are still a priority. Make a list of chores you want to accomplish during the week and schedule time to do little tasks each day (a load of laundry here, a quick running of the vacuum there). Plan family meals a week in advance, that way you don’t waste time wandering around the kitchen each night trying to decide what to cook. It’s also important that you schedule quality time with your significant other, such as a date night at least once a month.
Above all else, don’t forget to fit YOU in to your busy schedule. Find quality “me time,” even if it’s just for 15 minutes each day to peruse Facebook chatter. Relax, kick up your feet and relish in the wonderful parts of your life. After all, you get to work from home and that is something many people envy.
All content is originally authored by Michelle Cramer, although portions of this article were originally posted on LinktoPro.