Ask a.k.a: getting & keeping a freelance life

As a freelancer, how do you balance your time? Is it difficult to not always “be” at work since your home office is in the next room? – Shelley L.

You could ask 10 difference freelancers this same question and get just as many answers. Why? It’s about what works for you.

One of the reasons I picked answered this question is because I found myself assessing my priorities this spring. While claiming I wanted more time for a personal writing project, I proceeded to book copywriting gig after gig, racking up more than 280 hours in a single month.

I also kept comparing myself to other freelancer friends who were billing 60 hours a week or building businesses as weekend warriors (taking new projects on Friday afternoon and delivering them on Monday morning). They were thriving. I was burned out.

With the help of very supportive people in my life, including a fantastic mentor, I started to focus on what I needed to do to achieve my goals and take care of myself. Here’s what works for me (at least for now). 

  • Separating email accounts. I used my professional email address for all of my email, whether it was work-related or not. Which meant I was always plugged into work. So that I could still keep in touch with friends and family, but take a real break from work, I began using a separate email for personal messages. It’s made a huge difference in helping me recharge. If I need to turn off work email for a weekend, I can. It’s also helped me keep my work email more organized and efficient.
  • Setting work hours. With an occasional exception, I keep Monday-Friday “business hours,” roughly matching those of my clients. Those hours may extend or vary based on deadlines or times zones, but I function better with a somewhat set routine, rather than varying my schedule each day. It also helps to establish boundaries with people who think you’re available all the time because you work from home.
  • Designating a workspace. I got to my office every workday. Okay, it’s a 60-second commute (if you include a stop at the coffee maker), but it helps me get into work mode. Since I have one space designated for copywriting, it’s easier to “leave” work and let myself relax in the evening.

Okay, fellow freelancers, what works for you? How do you balance work with taking care of yourself? Please share in the comments here.

2 thoughts on “Ask a.k.a: getting & keeping a freelance life

  1. Paige, your comment hits home with me so much! I’m so glad you shared it. When it comes to my writing (which I seem to treat completely separately from client-paid copywriting), I have to walk and have social media detox on a regular basis. It’s nice to know someone else who needs her fix–and needs to limit her exposure. Thank you.

  2. Jesaka,this is great advice. Balance is so important when we freelance, but such a challenge (for obvious reasons).

    Honestly: I need to walk an hour a day. It clears my mind and relaxes me. I try to force myself to do something that isn’t writing-related (cooking? seeing a movie? gardening? play dress up with my little girl? something?) that will get me out of my head and inspire me the next time I’m in front of the computer screen. Also? A little social media detox goes a long way. I’m as guilty as the next person of having fits and starts on Twitter or Facebook. But I find that I’m better able to focus on what I need when I limit my exposure (yes, I still need my fix) to those platforms.

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