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Feeling bogged down with work? Get your work-life balance life back on track!

Freelancing – the flexibility and freedom can sound like a dream, no one to answer to but yourself, working around your family or other commitments, it’s the perfect scenario, right? But in reality, finding work-life balance as a freelancer can be difficult.

It can be all too easy to go from setting your work hours, to checking in on emails outside of those hours, to suddenly finding that there’s no clear break between where work ends and the rest of your life starts. The passion freelancers have for their work and the need to impress clients and establish a good reputation can lead to never being away from it all. You have so much to do, and so little time in the day! But if you are beginning to feel forgetful, bogged down, and unmotivated, you may need to look at readjusting your work-life balance. Here are some helpful tips to make sure that your work doesn’t take over your whole life.

Develop a routine

If you find yourself working all hours of the day (or night!), you may find it beneficial to develop your routine. Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, you can experiment with working hours that suit your needs. You may find that you work better in small chunks, or you prefer to just sit for hours with no distractions – this is unique to each person and you need to find what works for you. Try getting a weekly planner and mapping out all the projects you currently have and when you are going to do these, but don’t forget to add time for admin tasks, responding to emails, and allowing for overruns, as you don’t want to find yourself struggling to fit everything in that you wanted to achieve. By doing this you may find that you can get more work completed in the day as you have a clear plan on what needs to be completed and when, and no time is wasted on organizing what needs to be done next.

Take breaks

It is so important to take regular breaks, especially if you’re working at a screen. Research suggests that your brain becomes less productive and focused if you have been staring at a screen for 30 minutes or longer. Make these breaks meaningful to ensure you make the most of them, whether it’s making your favorite drink or getting outside for some fresh air – try to avoid spending your entire break period looking at your phone, as your eyes need a break from the blue light emitted by screens.

If you’re struggling to focus on work for long periods, try the ‘Pomodoro’ method, in which you break your work down into small chunks - typically with a 5-minute break in between and a longer break every 4 chunks- so this could look like: 20 mins work, 5 mins break x 3, with a 20-minute break after chunk 4. This could help to ensure that you are as productive as possible when you are working, allowing for less time being spent on work overall and reduced stress.

Separate your workspace from your living space

If you work from home, it is important to establish a working area if you can. Although it may be tempting to work from your sofa or even your bed, your brain will start to associate these areas with the stresses that come alongside working, thus making it more difficult to switch off when you’re not working.

If you have room for a home office, great! Making this somewhere behind a closable door could also ensure that you can shut work away and switch it off. If not, try to find somewhere that you don’t typically spend a lot of your downtime so that you can relax when you’re not working. There are some creative workspace solutions out there, especially with more people working from home nowadays, so see if you can find an idea that works for you in your space.

Clear your mind

When you finish work for the day, you need to find a way to switch off from it. This is easier said than done of course, but there are some strategies you could try to make sure you are maintaining a good work-life balance and truly getting away from work. A useful tip is to write your plan for the next day at the end of the current day. Writing down anything that’s on your mind to be carried over to tomorrow allows your brain to relax – it doesn’t need to hold on to those things for you. By doing this you can shut the door (literally or figuratively) on your work and pick it up the next day, knowing that nothing has been forgotten overnight.

Having an activity that you do when you finish work is a great idea to clear your mind. This could be anything from reading, taking the dog for a walk, going to the gym, meditation, or just watching your favorite show – find something that helps you to release after a day of working. Try to limit talk about work with your friends and family too so that you don’t have work in the back of your mind all the time.

Boundaries Do you find yourself ‘just’ replying to the odd client in the evenings or weekends when you’ve told yourself you’re not working? By doing this, you set the expectation that you are available at these times, and therefore people will expect this from you in the future. Unless it’s a genuine emergency, it can wait. Set these boundaries with your clients (and yourself!) to ensure that people are clear when you’re contactable. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out with your work as a freelancer, give some of these tips a go to help you get that work-life balance back! Remember, we work to live, not live to work!

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