Striking a work-life balance for the self-employed

Striking a work-life balance for the self-employed

Being your own boss is great, you get to make your own hours and set your own deadlines. But it hardly means you can take it lightly, on the contrary chances are the thoughts of your business are consuming your every waking hour. It may be extremely satisfying to be doing something that you love, but if it ends up being the only thing that you ever do, that passion may soon wear thin. What you thoroughly enjoyed doing starts to become a chore – either that or other aspects of your life will begin to suffer.

Having no set schedule to follow, combined with the pressure of growing and maintaining a business, can result in some long hours, to the point where you begin to wonder why you even decided to do this in the first place.

A lot of the self-employed struggle with knowing when to stop. The lines are so blurred between work and play that it can be challenging to find the right balance. That is why it’s so important to enforce rules to help you manage your work without burning out.

Here are some tips to help you strike a work-life balance:

1.Have dedicated working hours – While being your own boss means you get to keep hours that work for you and are flexible, there is some wisdom in having a fixed number of regular working hours every day. This helps in setting up a routine and distinguishing between work time and personal time, with the flexibility to make changes. You are more likely to be productive when you work within fixed hours than around the clock.

Also, it avoids “work” and “personal” spheres of your life overlapping too much, leading to the feeling of not being able to unplug.

Plan your day to get the important and urgent tasks done before anything else, so you can be flexible about the rest of the day.

2.Set boundaries – Have a dedicated work space at home that is separate from where you undertake leisure activities. This will help create a mental divide between your work and personal space. When you’re in that space you’re working and when you step away it’s for a break or when you’re done for the day. This will help you be more productive without getting distracted.

It’s also very important to enforce boundaries when it comes to friends and family. Let them know when you are working and can’t be interrupted. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you are available to them at anytime. Letting other things encroach on your work periods only means that work will have to get done at another time—like when you’re supposed to be enjoying dinner with your family.

Similarly, stand strong when it comes to the times you are not available to work. Make sure your clients know when and how to reach you, and make it clear from the start that you check your email/phone messages/etc. during certain periods. This ensures that they are aware of the times when you are available to them and can schedule work accordingly.

3.Have some ‘personal time’ – Make time for hobbies, interests and pastimes that are entirely unrelated to your work. Spend quality time with friends and family and distract yourself from that never-ending to-do list. Having some quality ‘personal time’ is crucial if you want to perform at your best when you’re working. It gives you the opportunity to reboot and you will be all the better for it.

4.Create a routine that optimises your energy – A routine is more than just a time management strategy; it can also help you get into work mode and make the most of your body’s energy levels. Depending on when you perform best, whether in the morning or late at night, schedule your work to make efficient and effective use of your energy. When you’re at your productive best work on projects that require effort in terms of creativity, thinking and energy. For the times you are low on energy or capacity, you can finish up simpler routine tasks.

5.Don’t feel guilty – It’s easy to be guilt ridden when not working because you feel you’re being unproductive. Don’t let that happen. If you’re managing your work well and are able to deliver on time, then there is no reason to fret.

Remember if you are self employed, you answer to yourself, therefore any feelings of guilt that you may have for not working are entirely self-inflicted. Remind yourself why it’s important for you to have some leisure time and focus on that when pangs of guilt appear. Getting down time makes you more energised and hence more productive.

Follow these easy tips and you’re sure to have a better work-life balance that will benefit you, both professionally and personally.

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