One of the main benefits of the freelancing lifestyle is that you can work from anywhere in the world. With the advances in technology enabling hyper-connectivity and the rise of remote work, freelancers can do their work anywhere and anytime.
However, this can quickly lead to the lines between work and life blurring into one, and without any balance, the freelancing lifestyle can quickly transform into a negative experience.
Balance the Grind has had the opportunity to interview many freelancers in several professions such as journalism, marketing, design, and more. With their unique skillset and lifestyle, freelancers can have some great insights into the best work-life balance strategies.
Here are 12 tips on how freelancers can achieve a healthy work-life balance.
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Vivienne Kruckow is a freelance writer and Founder of copywriting & brand storytelling business Rust Creative
Planning out my weeks in advance has been a big one. Picking three tasks to accomplish for the day is another. Working at the design agency taught me to avoid cramming too much on your plate each day, otherwise you leave your office/laptop feeling deflated and stressed for tomorrow.
I’ve also recently put a permanent OOO on my emails and it’s been a game changer! Emails have always been something I’ve struggled with, so setting up that little barrier and first point of contact has been amazing and taken a huge chip off my shoulder. Now, it’s almost fun trying to see how quickly I can get back to someone within that 24-48 business hour period.
Jessica Mudditt is a freelance business and lifestyle journalist who has written for The Economist, The Telegraph UK, CNN, GQ, Australian Geographic, and many more publications
I think it would be not checking my emails in the evening. I used to do it but found that I’d get wound up and have a rough night’s sleep, which would then mess with my ability to deal with whatever it was the following day. I figure that if I’m not going to respond to an email after 5pm, why read it?
Of course, sometimes the Gmail notification pops up and I see an email or two, but I definitely don’t actively check or reply to emails. And I don’t feel guilty about it either, because I think not blurring my evenings with work stuff makes me more focused during the day.
Navani Otero is a NYC-based based freelance digital writer and editor specializing in entertainment, music, Latin culture, and lifestyle stories
It all comes down to time management. For me, I had to learn to really prioritize and get clear on the things I want to spend my time and energy on. I ask myself if it’s something that will help me get to my next goal professionally or personally?
Is it something I’m super passionate about? Like Marie Kondo says, does it spark joy? If it doesn’t, I have learned how to say no and free up more time and space for myself. I also take mental health days occasionally, where I just unplug and take a break from my routine.
This helps if I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. Also, I make sure to do one nice thing for myself. In the famous words of Donna from Parks and Recreation, “Treat Yo’Self.”
Elizabeth Pek is a Freelance Product & Experience Design Consultant
I love to reflect and to practice mindfulness, and I believe these are the cornerstone habits that help me be more effective and have that sense of balance.
I usually meditate using the Headspace app at the start and end of my work day; this is usually done as part of my commute or after breakfast / before preparing dinner if I’m working from home.
Kimberley Lee is the Director of PR agency Brand PR Social and freelance consultant
Deadlines normally help! I use my calendar to schedule time for everything I want to achieve in a day, including exercise, meditation and family and friend time.
And then I move things around depending on how the day actually pans out. Knowing what I need to get done and being realistic about how and when, then being flexible to move things around without getting flustered is key.
I’ve also fostered solid relationships with clients – if something unexpected crops up and I need to make some space in my schedule I can call a client to let them know about the situation and re-prioritise work if we need to.
Audrey Kaiser is a freelance digital marketer with 7+ years experience leading digital, communication, marketing and entertainment strategies
Event management has taught me how to be organised and prioritise tasks based on urgency and deadlines. I do love a good old to do list or GANTT chart. I always finish my day by reprioritising tasks that need to be actioned the following day. I also like to get ahead of schedule and give clients timeframes with a little a bit of buffer to manage expectations.
It always looks better if you happen to finish ahead of schedule. What I have learned in life is that everything comes down to communication. Whether it’s with your clients or your boss, don’t let a task or deadline overwhelm you, raise your concerns if any and let your peers know what you’re doing (visibility on your work).
Sofia Levin is a Food & Travel Journalist who has written for publications such as Fairfax’s Good Food, Lonely Planet, Domain Review, delicious. and more
I’m a big believer in research and just putting your head down to get things done. Taking a deep dive and gathering as much background on a place, person or brand as possible is correlated with success. The more prepared you are, the easier the task ahead – and the better the results.
Lucinda Starr is a Freelance Writer who is currently contributing to publications Broadsheet Media, Concrete Playground Sydney, BuzzFeed and more
Another habit I’ve tried to implement is taking a lunch break. No, I don’t mean scoffing my lunch at my desk between meetings. It’s about getting outside, reconnecting with the world and getting some perspective.
Even if I’ve got tonnes on my plate, this time is so valuable. After my break (and a much needed dose of Vitamin D) I come back to work more focused, productive and in a much better mindset to smash through my to-do list.
Jefferey Spivey is a Freelance Writer, Author, Blogger, and Founder of Uptown Bourgeois
The best habit I have is my weekly reflection. Every Friday, I set aside 15-30 minutes to recap the week. What worked? What didn’t? Did I achieve everything on my to-do list? This helps contextualize the week.
For example, there may be a week where I feel rundown and unproductive, but recapping my achievements for the week can help me see that I need to give myself more credit. It can be a big mood booster.
It can also help me pinpoint why something’s not getting done repeatedly. I can prioritize a delinquent task for the next week or I can reevaluate its importance altogether. I also do this at a higher level each month and quarter.
Kalinda Atkinson is a Freelance Digital Marketer, working across startups, SMEs and large corporations, in several different industries: online games, fitness, education, events, and more.
The most significant habit that has helped me both in my career and my work-life balance is that I always strive to add value – to clients, to my work, and to myself. Deliver to your clients, or your boss, or whoever it is you serve in your career, but also deliver to yourself – eat well, get some exercise, stretch, smile.
Lisa Cugnetto is a freelance writer, editor & content producer with over 15 years of experience. She works with a range of businesses, agencies, publications, not-for-profits and more.
Working for myself and working from home means it can be sometimes hard to separate the two. But I think it’s about putting boundaries in place to ensure you can make room for, prioritise and enjoy the other facets of your life, like time with your partner, friends and family, hobbies, socialising and downtime.
Small things can make a big difference. Don’t answer client emails on weekends. Don’t be the type of person who keeps their phone on the table, and checks it often, when they are out at dinner.
Milly Stilinovic is a Freelance Journalist, Copywriter and Author, whose work has been featured in titles such as Forbes Magazine, TIME, BBC, Nine News, Amnesty International, Woman’s Day, Cosmopolitan, Cleo, and more.
I am learning to say ‘no’. This was something I struggled with for a long time because I didn’t understand what it meant. Nowadays, it means taking responsibility for the quality of your life and learning to say no to opportunities when you’re away on holidays, to clients who try to undercut your value, to an event if you’re not feeling your best.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!