When you work as a freelancer, it’s difficult to separate your career and your personal life. As a creative, you feel like you should always be working, even when you’re supposed to be off for the night. However, you need to create boundaries for yourself. You need to put all of your effort into your craft during work hours and completely forget about work during your off hours.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, so here are a few tips to achieve the perfect work and life balance:
1. Set a strict schedule for yourself. Even if you are self-employed and can work anytime you please, you should still set a schedule. Decide which hours you are going to consider productive time and which hours you are going to consider personal time. If you don’t put limits on how much you work, then you’re going to end up burning yourself out — and if you don’t set limits on how much you socialize, you’re going to end up falling behind on your work.
2. Don’t answer emails off the clock. When you’re supposed to be socializing and relaxing with friends, don’t allow yourself to think about work. If you’re tempted to answer emails, then turn off your notifications. Even turn off your phone if it’s necessary. With the same idea in mind, don’t answer texts from your friends while you’re on the clock. Wait until work hours are over.
3. Set boundaries with your clients and coworkers. Let them know you’re not available for meetings past five o’clock. Let them know you only answer emails Monday through Friday. Let them know you aren’t going to answer them unless they contact you during your designated work hours. If you let them get away with asking favors when you’re off the clock, then select people are going to take advantage of the situation. Remember, it’s not rude to say no.
4. Pick a suitable place to work. In order to create mental boundaries between your personal and work life, you have to create physical boundaries first. Don’t work from your bed. Don’t work from your couch. Set up an office area for yourself and only allow yourself to work if you are sitting in the designated chair. That way, you won’t feel the urge to answer work emails while you are in bed. You will save them for when you’re sitting at your desk.
5. Separate your work tech and your personal tech. Consider setting up separate social media accounts — one for clients and coworkers, and one for your close family and friends. You could also create a second email, buy a second cell phone, or buy a second laptop. Make it easier for yourself to separate your work items from your personal items.
6. Talk to your friends about other things than work. When you finally have the chance to unwind with your friends at the end of the week, don’t spend all your time talking about work. Talk about your love life. Talk about your pets. Talk about your favorite TV shows. You can mention work since it’s important to you, but try not to go into too much detail. Don’t stress yourself out about your career when you’re supposed to be having fun and letting loose.
7. Remind yourself you deserve a break. Don’t trick yourself into believing you need to work twenty-four seven in order to reach success. You can have a thriving career and a social life. You don’t have to choose between the two. You will create better work when you are well rested, when your personal and work lives are separate.