3 Crucial Tips For Striking a Better Work-Life Balance
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Working from home often makes for a poor work-life balance.
Unlike most regular employees, you don’t have the luxury of being able to walk away from your place of work at the end of a working day, because it’s right there in your own home.
Sure, there will always be some employees who feel compelled to bring their work home with them, but it’s not quite the same as living and working in the same space.
Challenges of Working From Home
In my personal situation of being a full-time freelancer, the situation is further exacerbated by how strongly linked your income is to how much time you spend working.
It’s little wonder that many freelancers find themselves on the wrong end of the work-life balance.
A work-life balance is not only important for your own mental and physical health, but it's also essential to having quality long-term relationships with your closest friends and family, including your significant other.
I got things horribly wrong when I first started freelancing full-time. I tried to cram in so much work for fear of losing clients and was working late into the night to get things done with the aid of immense amounts of strong caffeine to keep me going.
It wasn’t a sustainable strategy in the long-term and you probably won’t be too surprised to know I completely burnt myself out not long afterwards.
I also had little social life to speak of and was constantly feeling on edge. I soon realized the hard way that working ridiculous hours wasn’t increasing my earnings.
In fact, I’d say that it had the opposite effect since everything ending up taking twice as long as it should have.
I was stressed, unproductive and lonely. Things needed to change, and fast.
Succeeding with Work-Life Balance
Here are some great tips for striking a better work-life balance, especially if you're working full time at home making money online.
Set physical boundaries
Until recently, my laptop lived on a desk in the corner of my bedroom and I could never resist sneakily checking my emails in case a client had emailed since I’d logged off.
In short, I could never switch off properly because I was constantly aware of its presence in the room.
Things have been better since I decided to move the laptop to the spare room. The simple act of being able to shut the door on my laptop once my work is done helps me to better focus my mind.
Maybe it’s psychological, but it’s worth trying if you’re finding that you can’t stay away from the computer.
Physical boundaries will allow you to spend more time with those important in your life without thinking about work.
I have one long-standing client who always emailed late at night with an urgent project that needed my immediate attention.
Like a fool, I’d jump straight on it and spend half the night to submit it as soon as possible.
After my decision to strike a better work-life balance, I informed the client that I only worked set hours (in this case, 9-5 hours) and wouldn’t be able to fit these requests into my schedule until the following day.
Far from never working with me again, the client simply accepted this.
I guess those “urgent” deadlines weren’t so pressing after all.
If you have a family to take care of, then you know how helpful it can be to set limits to allow you spend the necessary time with your family.
Set aside some “me” time.
Let’s face it, freelancing is a stressful business. Even if you’ve got regular clients to fall back on, you never know when they might go under and leave you high and dry.
If you’re not fortunate enough to have regular clients, the stress factor goes up ten-fold.
To counteract the stress, set aside some time purely for relaxing and forgetting about work.
It sounds incredibly obvious, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in work mode and leave yourself on the back-burner.
Trust me, I’ve been there. Sometimes, you just need to be selfish. Read a book, watch a movie, do whatever tickles your fancy. Do something on your own so you can clear your mind and rejuvenate yourself.
Improving Balance and Earning More
Many freelancers find that their work-life balance is more than just a bit skewed, but working long hours doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll have more money to show for it.
Poor productivity often means that you’re just working more for the same amount of pay as before and getting more stressed as a result.
Even if you are gaining more money from it, you need to lend some value to your mental and physical health and realize that working so hard is hurting other aspects of your life.
Improving your work-life balance can go a long way towards getting a more “normal” life back again where not only you will be much happier, but will also greatly enhance your relationship with your spouse or significant other.
Thoughts on Prioritizing Work and Family
What are your tips for getting a better work-life balance to help foster healthier relationships with your closes friends and family? Let us know in the comments!
Too true! I am also a full-time freelancer and often have trouble shutting off the workday. Lately I’ve been trying these strategies:
1. Take at least two walks a day. When I was a newspaper reporter some of my co-workers and I would walk the bike path around the building (about a quarter of a mile) when hammered with stress or writer’s block. Now I have no co-workers and no bike path so I walk to the local Asian market, about two (long) blocks away. Sometimes I go in and buy a few bananas. Sometimes I drop a letter in the mailbox out front. Sometimes I just turn around and walk home. Getting away from work for a while is essential.
2. Setting a timer. I tend to sit for hours on end, which has led to some back issues. Now I set the stove timer for one hour. When it goes off, I have to leave my desk and walk across the room and shut it off. I then make an effort to stay away from the desk for a few minutes, either by doing some small chore or doing a few minutes’ worth of stretching.
Totally agree with you Sally! I have been working out of my home office since 2005 but, unlike you, I became very lazy very quickly. Only now can I look back and realize that I was so burned out that I just didn’t want to do anything.
Now I have passion back for my work and more balance. My office is in it’s own room, no electronics of any sort are allowed in my bedroom (no phones, no television and certainly no laptop). I have set hours of operation and have a business number through Skype that I can easily turn straight to voicemail during non-business hours.
My family is very important to me but even more is the importance of my sanity and success. Without either, I am absolutely no use to my family.
Thanks for the comments, Donna and Shannon! It sounds like you’ve both got some great ideas for getting the right work-life balance. Thanks for sharing your tips as I’m sure that readers will find them useful!
I was just thinking about this very topic this morning, as I am heading back to work this Monday. (Part time, from home.) With technology and such, it can be very hard to get away from your job nowadays, especially when you work from home.
I like the idea of putting the computer in a different room, that is something I think I will need to do. If it is anywhere near me, I will just leave it open in case an email pops in. (That was what I did when I worked from home before.) I have to just start fresh and set new guidelines.