Importance of Balance Life as a Freelancer
Many people with “normal” 9 to 5 jobs don’t understand how difficult it is to maintain a work/life balance as a freelancer. This balance is especially hard to keep when you are first starting out on your own.
Granted, there are those with regular jobs who have a difficult time balancing work responsibilities with life, too, but perhaps only commissioned salespeople will understand these underlying truths of being a freelancer.
There’s no such thing as sick days or a paid vacation.
Nobody cares when a freelancer or a commissioned salesperson gets sick. A salesperson has a quota to meet, no matter how he or she is feeling. Freelancers may beg for an extended deadline from their clients, but if they have a tightly packed schedule, that extended deadline for one client may disrupt the work for another.
Both salespeople and freelancers may go on vacation, too. But either they will have to complete the required work before they go by working longer hours and weekends, or they will not have any income for the week.
Take this into account before you become a freelancer. You learn quickly that as a freelancer, work = money. Which leads us nicely into this next discussion . . .
“I didn’t do much at work today.”
Perhaps you had a “regular” job in the past that kept you hopping one minute and bored the next. Maybe you didn’t have specific deadlines for completing projects, so there was no sense of urgency to work hard or fast.
You may hear others discuss this phenomenon in this way: “One of my clients didn’t show up today, so I chatted with my coworker for a couple of hours.” or “I didn’t feel like doing much today at work, so I did all my Christmas shopping and ordered holiday cards.”
Freelancers can have an easy day, but this means that they will not make as much money. Your friend ordering Christmas cards at work will still be bringing home the same paycheck regardless of how much work was completed.
Is saying “no” really an option?
As a freelancer, your main goal is to make your clients happy. If they are happy, they will reward you with continued work and higher pay. Since it takes time and effort to find other clients, it is much easier to keep the ones you already have instead of writing proposals for new ones.
This means that even if you are booked solid, can you really say “no” when a client asks you to work on another project? After all, you don’t want them to get used to turning to someone else to get work done. Instead, you calculate how much more money that project will bring in for the week, and you will watch as your to-do list gets longer and longer.
We are not trying to say that working a typical job is not without stress. What we are trying to say is that freelancing stress is different than the hardship that comes from working an average job.
How do we combat this problem of maintaining a work/life balance as a freelancer? Consider these words: Your work is not your life. You may love your work and are happy for the privilege to complete projects for your clients each day. You may feel proud of having established business for yourself and are delighted when you see your pay increase each month.
But – your work is not your life. Your family needs you, and your friends need you. You need to give back to your community and form relationships with your neighbors. Since freelancing is lonely work, you need to join groups and organize social opportunities. Plus, you need to take time to watch the sunset, go to an afternoon baseball game, and take your kids sledding.
We agree with other freelancing websites that you should work hard to develop your business. But, on the other hand, does your increase in income make you a more balanced person?
So, we challenge you to set hours for yourself and stick to them. Schedule several social opportunities each week. Give yourself a full half-hour for lunch that is free from screens. See if saying, “no” really brought with it the disaster that you expected. Give yourself at least one day a week free from work.
At the end of each workday, tell yourself that you did the best that you could do with the time you had that day. And then live your life.
This article was originally posted at Freelancing Buzz.