So you go freelance, relish the freedom and settle down for an easier life.
Freelance is not easy, especially when you are always on the lookout for a new opportunity, but it can be made even more stressful when you realise that the old 9-5 was a hell of a lot kinder to your free time.
Freelance = working all hours
When you are not working, you are networking, reading your industry’s publications, blogs and news. There’s paperwork to be done, accounts to keep on top of, and advertising. Urgh, ask anyone… that’s the worst. Especially if you are not one of those who can sing your own praises.
When you are working, as in getting down to the job in hand, nitty-gritty this-is-what-you-were-trained-to-do working, things can also get complicated. Do you charge by the minute, by the hour or half-hour, do you still charge when you are taking a break (although I don’t some people seem to, after all, they say, if you were a wage-slave you’d actually get paid breaks) or do you only charge for the actual work?
Then there come the clients who seem to think that phone-calls at 9pm on a Sunday are acceptable, or throw a spanner in the works in the form of a deadline that has stretched so much you have to work into the night to fit the deadline that they set, and that they made neigh-on impossible by being late at their end.
So free time? Let’s just say there’s an art to it. But follow this five step challenge and things may get easier …
1. Set boundaries
If you don’t mind phone calls in the middle of the night, fair enough. But if you value your free time when you start working for a client, put it in your T&Cs or tell them that you will be in your office between, say 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. So what if you don’t have an office and work from home? Separate work from home.
2. Take breaks
Yes, I know, easier said than done. But it’s vital to your health, both mental and physical. I myself am terrible for this, I know only too well how difficult it is to tear yourself away. But remind yourself that wearing yourself out won’t help in the long run. Take a break, have a coffee, get outside.
3. Do the paperwork as you go along
Really… it’s much easier than leaving it all until the end of the job and adding on a few hours of admin time.
4. Take a holiday
Yes, really. Even if it’s just booking in a week at home with no work. Put it on your calendar and promise yourself to refuse any work during that time. If a project slips, don’t ignore it, let the client know you have a holiday booked.
The world won’t end if you take a duvet day. Yes, you may have to catch up, but you can start the next day refreshed. It’s much better to take a day off than stare at a computer or try to get a project done when you are fatigued – you simply won’t be productive and a day off will recharge your batteries.
So, there was a reason you went freelance. Was it to tire yourself out and run yourself into the ground, or to make a decent living and be in charge of your own working hours? Don’t be beaten down, take charge and reclaim your free time.