Maintain a balance between personal and professional life when working from home is very important. If you aren’t disciplined enough, you can be tempted to work all the time and ruin your personal life.
It may sound really cool to be able to open a computer and start working but it actually means one can be dragged to work all the time. Freelancer has to be aware of it to be able to avoid such a drag and here are 10 things I do to make sure I have a good amount of balance of how much money I make as a freelancer and enjoy the personal life as well.
1. Set Aside Working Hours
When I started as a freelancer, I was working long hours and working almost all the time. I was so excited about it but few months down the line I was burning myself out. I realized the importance of setting aside working hours so your brain knows when is the time to work.
I am an early bird and not a late night owl and I am most creative in the morning. My schedule for the day is to set aside 2 to 3 hours for my creative side. I prefer to wake up around 6 AM in the morning and so I allocate time till 9 AM for my creative writing which can be writing for my blog or eBook or anything writing I want to be doing. No emails and no mobile notifications.
I avoid working for clients on weekends unless there is something really urgent. I avoid replying to normal emails on weekends but if I am, it shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Mondays are more like a weekend for me because my clients are mainly from the US and they are still on weekend. So I allocate more writing time for my blogs on Monday or any other weekend project I may be working on.
My client working and meeting hours are fixed as well. Normally my working hours as known to my clients are 9 AM to 9 PM Indian time and though it may sound like long hours I take off in the afternoons. The reason I take afternoons off or take a nap is I wake up early for my blogs and be creative and often at night, have client meetings. Afternoons are light and so it is good time to relax, tune into business news channel for anything unusual about my investments and then take a nap around 3:30PM.
Once I am back at 5:30 PM, my schedule is to reply to emails, interact with developers of my outsourcing company and have time for client meetings.
2. Do Not Overload
If you are into freelancing for a long time, at times clients will email you about something they want to be done and you can be tempted to finish it up as soon as possible. Freelancing is not all about working to the extent you can.
Work as much as you can isn’t the mantra; Work as much as you want and need to. Take a leaf from doctors, seeing more patient means more money but there is a limit to the number of patients they can attend in a day. Similarly, there is a limit to how much one can work and earn exchanging your time for money.
I always take up less work than I can deliver and this helps me maintain my deadlines for each of my clients as well as charge better rates for my time. Often client also feels I am working only for them but though I am not working only for a single client I do have an upper limit of the number of clients I do work for and it is often 2 and never more than 3.
3. Plan Off Time
Freelancers do not work 9 to 5. A family gets together or any celebrations are very easy for a freelancer but often long vacations and off days are tough to imagine. You have to plan your vacations and off days.
I have been planning off days and long weekends for quite some time now and it helped me to take up a long vacation of 20+ days without even taking my MacBook with me.
It took me a long time to be able to do it but now once I have managed it, seems quite likely I will take up such long vacations on a more consistent basis.
You have to call it a day and should be gone from the Internet world. Period.
Email notification on mobile phones can be killer. If you know of an email is in your inbox, it will be tough for your brain to put it away. So it is better to disable background check for email on phones and it won’t notify you about the new emails even if you are connected.
I normally avoid mobile data and I disconnect by switching off my Internet router. I do it before I shut down my PC just to regather my thoughts on the topic I may be writing the next morning. Again it isn’t the time for topic research but few thoughtful minutes on the topic.
5. Let there be Distraction
You are working from home and so there will be people around you who may not always want to wait till you call it a day.
Your kids, wife, your mom who want to you listen to her etc. It is important for you to define working hours but it is also important you can spare time for them in the middle of your working hours.
Apart from family, you will have work which isn’t directly related but you need time for them. Banking, taxation, attending seminars can be few such examples and let there be such distractions.
6. Invest for Passive Income
Try building a passive income over time. Blogging and other sources of online passive income are good but one should also invest to build a passive source of regular income.
I have invested good money for a passive rent income and is building my equity market portfolio for more and more passive income from dividend.
7. Firing Clients is OK
Some clients will have more expectations than what you can and want to be delivering.
Working for clients and delivering as per their need is important but if clients are too impatient for every trivial task and consider them as urgent, you are surely handling the wrong clients.
If you aren’t too desperate, fire such clients.
8. Time for Innovation
I love reading books and this is one thing missing from me when I started as a freelancer. Slowly I have started to allocate more time to my reading and it has helped me immensely as a blogger as well.
You need time to re-think and re-evaluate. You cannot be all the time working and need time to innovate and decide on the direction forward.Project after project and client after client can mean your brain may be tiring to innovate.
Reading books has helped me immensely to have more time to rethink and regroup my thoughts.
You should not be doing everything on your own and you can always outsource some part of your work to others.
It will definitely help you boost your financial growth as a freelancer but more important is the time one can have for personal growth due to outsourcing.
If you are trying to be doing everything, you will have a diversified vision which may not help. Be an essentialist and focus on being a specialist.
Remember, as a freelancer, you are the greatest asset to your success. So protect it, use it to the fullest and still conserve it to grow over time. Having a clear focus and vision is ultimately is really important.
I don’t see freelancing where I will recruit a team and work for clients. I prefer it to be part time freelancer to help me pay my bills and have some for my investments so I can writer for my blogs.
Finally Enjoy The Life of Freelancer
Many freelancers are frustrated in the first couple of years of freelancing because they are in it for the quick money and don’t do it because they enjoy doing it.
If you enjoy what you do, there isn’t any stopping for you.