Achieving the perfect worklife balance for freelancers and contractors is the holy grail.
Given that as an independent worker, you theoretically have the power to decide how you work, when you work, where you work and who for, you’d think that finding that sought-after balance between work and play should be simple. The reality is however, that it’s not.
As any half-experienced freelancer knows, many of us live in fear of the work drying up. Without real job security in the form of a cushty contract of employment, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of working non-stop, because, who knows, that rainy day might be closer than you think.
Freelancing can turn you into a workhorse. While this might well bring you some form of financial security, a healthy worklife balance it does not. Ask yourself; why was it that you went freelance? The majority of freelancers ventured into self-employment in search of a better worklife balance, not simply to earn more.
Setting clear boundaries between work and play, and allowing yourself to switch off once in a while is easier said than done of course. But it’s possible. And what’s more, it’s liberating. So whether it’s holidays, work-free weekends or evenings with the family, here’s how you can build a better worklife balance, and one which your freelance career will benefit from.
Choose your moments strategically
Naturally, freelancers don’t want to pass up many opportunities. After all, the work might not come around again. With this is mind, it’s up to you to get a clear idea of potential projects or busy periods with your regular clients.
Get organised, pencil in busy periods into your diary before plotting in some fixed dates on which you plan to enjoy some well-earned time off. While you might not get paid for the time you take off, if your client is away at the same time, there’s the possibility you might not even be needed anyway.
Although testing sometimes, many clients will typically work around you where possible. If they aren’t playing ball, you have a bigger question to ask yourself.
Whether you’re in need of a quick city break, fancy Friday afternoon off, want to do the school run or need to clear your head with a gym session, working remotely gives you more freedom and flexibility.
By structuring your day to your taste, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy more of the moments that matter. Start early, finish early. Start late, finish late. Do a few hours here, and a few there. Take control of the way in which you work and enjoy a much better all-round balance.
Millions work remotely in the UK today, as businesses of all sizes actively embrace the remote working revolution. Have the discussion with your client, or outline from the beginning that more often than not you’ll be working remotely. If they trust you, they’ll respect your independence.
Collaborate with others
If you’ve worked up a strong relationship with your clients, you’re well within your right to introduce them to a new member of your team.
While this changes the dynamic of your offering – marking the change from solo freelancer to an agency relationship – it will free you up a little should you be looking to take some time off or just ease up on your personal workload.
A few words of warning though; introducing a fellow freelancer to a client requires a gentle, considered conversation. Only collaborate with freelancers you know and trust. And remember, that as the ‘Account Manager’, all responsibility falls on your shoulders. And so it should.
Trust your ability
In the early days of being freelance, you’ll no doubt be on a mission to prove your invaluable worth to each and every client. It’s only natural. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that any time off or ground-rules make you less of an attractive proposition. This changes over time. And with experience comes self-assurance, confidence in your ability and in the service you deliver for clients. Rather than your client relationship being a one-way street, make a habit of having clear, honest conversations about the way you intend to work.
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