Working from home on occasion can be hard, but it’s even harder when you do it full-time. Whether you’re connecting with various clients as a full-time freelancer or running your own business from home, achieving a work/life balance is nearly impossible.
It’s not uncommon to have to answer the phone in the middle of the night or text a client when you’re enjoying brunch with friends. Your business is your livelihood; it makes sense that you’d want to protect it at all costs, especially when you make your own schedule.
Unfortunately, freelancers and entrepreneurs will burn themselves out if they can’t catch a break. It’s not like you can engage in gossip at the water cooler when you’re working from home. At best, you might be able to pet your dog or say hi to your roommate when you put the water filter back in the fridge.
Burnout will be inevitable unless you’re able to achieve a work/life balance. You might think you have to grind away 24/7 to become one of the 5% of women heading Fortune 500 companies, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s thanks to a healthy balance between work and fun that successful people are able to flourish and continue to compound that success.
Here are some top tips to help you know when to close your computer and live in the moment.
Have a designated office
This might seem like freelancing 101, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of working throughout your home. After all, the couch is comfier and the bed even more. It makes sense that you’d want a change of scenery, even if that scenery is hidden behind your laptop screen.
However, working in various parts of your home will make you feel like you’re in “work mode” even when you’re not freelancing. That’s why you should only do work at a designated desk or seat at your table. Even though the allure of the couch is tempting, try to avoid it so you can actually relax when your laptop is closed.
Again, it’s easy to respond to a text or email while you’re out shopping with your friends or getting lunch. But if you don’t set boundaries for yourself, who will?
Small businesses are able to flourish during business hours because 50% of their clientele comes from passersby. Unfortunately, you don’t have this luxury when people are able to find you online. That’s why it’s up to you to establish set working hours and breaks in order to enjoy your time off when you have it. Think of yourself as an actual, physical business: if it were open all the time, eventually the lightbulbs would blow and more maintenance would be needed. Your body is the same way. “Clock out” when you want to keep your craft — and your sanity — in tip-top shape.
Budget your time per project
It’s easy to say “yes” to every potential client. But taking on more than you can chew can result in long hours spent glued to the computer. Looking at your current workload before taking on something new is a practice everyone should adopt.
On that same note, don’t be afraid to say no. You are offering a product or service that the client wants, not the other way around. If you’re not excited by the project or happy to work on it, then it isn’t worth your time. Sure, there will be some dull projects on occasion (you need to pay the mortgage some way), but a big project that’s out of your wheelhouse can be postponed until you’re in a better headspace. Try communicating with the client and getting a timeline of their needs. This can enable you to reassess your schedule before diving into the deep end.
Freelancing is great because you get the freedom to choose your schedule. Unfortunately, this means that your work/life balance can quickly become lopsided. Remember these tips the next time you’re feeling the threat of burnout from working at home.