This world can be loud.
Technology does not help. Not only are we expected to take orders from bosses and coworkers while at our jobs, but now emails and texts make it possible to receive assignments 24/7 from the comfort of our own homes.
In this digital age, a work-life balance can seem impossible, especially with the daily stresses of a freelancer. There are always 12 different people wanting something from you, and oftentimes, they are feeding more than you can chew.
Too many people think that they are the only thing that matters. They believe that they should take priority over your own sanity and sleep. While it is good to hustle and get ahead, don’t underestimate the importance of your own rest and well-being.
I have fallen victim to the 24/7 business world, and am just starting to learn how to set boundaries that satisfy both myself and clients. It can be tough, but in the end, it is well worth any damaged bridges or cents lost.
Start by setting ground rules when you first begin a relationship with a new client. Let them know your time frame, your charge, and exactly what your services entail. Keep this in writing so that, if any one ever crosses a line, you can refer back to the original agreement. Never feel guilty about honoring your plans, and always put your own ethical practices first.
Another way to set your limits is to create a schedule that is set for at least two weeks out. If any client tries to change that schedule, or attempts to force you to do something that was not originally agreed upon, do not be afraid to charge more, or simply decline the gig. You won’t want to lose any work, but more importantly, you do not want to lose the ability to be in control of your own life. Your time is valuable. Respect that.
The simplest way to achieve some sort of work-life balance, is to turn off and unplug. Vow to not answer any emails outside of business hours, and dedicate at least one day a week to not doing any kind of work. You are a business, and people need to realize that all businesses need time off. No one would consider going to a movie theater that was closed for the night and demanding a ticket, so why should your work be any different?
Yes, there are always exceptions to the rules, but if generally kept, these guidelines can help you and your clients establish healthy relationships that honor your work fairly. Stop worrying about answering every email the second your phone buzzes, and give yourself the peace of mind that the work will be there in the morning. No one really needs an expense report at midnight.