You’ve made the leap, ditched the 9-to-5, and stopped “working for the man.” Your website is up and running and starting to attract the attention of potential clients. Your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts are on point. You’ve told everyone you know about your new business. And you’ve even got a new planner!
As the work starts to roll in, suddenly you find yourself feeling completely overwhelmed, continually working, and on the verge of the dreaded burnout.
Why does this happen? I thought freelancing was supposed to free you from all of these feelings? What happened to all that extra time and stress-free work environment?
Unfortunately, it’s common for newbies in the freelancing arena to experience burnout, simply by not following some simple guidelines.
Houston Golden from BAMF is on the blog today to share his top tips for creating a work/life balance when you work from home.
Take it away, Houston!
How to Find Balance between Work and Life for Solopreneurs
It’s the 21st century of work.
The world has opened up to an array of amazing business and work opportunities for everyone.
Today, it’s easier than ever before to start a business, build out an influencer persona, share and monetize your expertise, or find clients and run your own service business without having to rely on a 9-to-5 paycheck.
But there’s a cost to the opportunity.
Work-related stress, the ability to balance your work and social life, and the strain that comes from all work-related responsibilities can be a hefty challenge to overcome.
In fact, if you haven’t thought about switching to a 9-to-5 at least once during a panic period, you’re either just starting out or have inhuman stress-coping mechanisms.
But if you have, not just once, but many a time, this is definitely a must-read for you.
Separate Your Spaces
This can’t be stressed enough. You might consider your psyche to be stronger and think that working at home doesn’t affect your perception or productivity.
However, studies have found that people who work from home often have a hard time balancing their work and other aspects of their life.
Having a dedicated workspace is a must for every at-home solopreneur.
It will allow you to physically separate your work environment from other aspects of your life.
A lot of experts suggest that even a dedicated desk can do the trick.
But, depending on your character traits and habits, it’s often suggested that you have a dedicated room or home office.
Visit Shared Work Spaces/Social Events
One of the biggest drawbacks of being a solopreneur today is that most, if not all, of your interactions will be digital.
This could stifle your social interactions and limit them greatly.
Especially if you are the outgoing type, visiting and working from shared workspaces or attending solopreneur social events can help you meet new people.
Plus, some of the stress comes from feeling like the odd one out. Having a group of people who share your daily struggles, especially if they are going through a similar journey, can have a profound impact on your social stress.
Leave Your (Work) Emotions and Thoughts “at the Door”
Would you consider yourself to be a workaholic? Chances are, you would.
In fact, you probably also share a ton of workaholic memes on social media.
Yet, when some solopreneurs time their work hours, they often find out they work less than the usual forty-hour workweek.
So why does this incorrect perception exist?
Solopreneurs tend to be constantly engaged in their work endeavors.
You THINK about your business and clients too much.
In fact, that might very well be the reason for all the stress.
After all, each aspect of your business relies solely on you. Your discipline and work ethic are what drive your success.
So when you are AT HOME, able to start working at any given second, you might constantly feel pressured that your work ethic is simply not good enough.
Why watch this movie when you can be working? Why sit on the couch? Who’s going to stop you from working on the weekend? You need to get ahead, right?
This leads to a constant emotional drain that doesn’t allow you to have time off. So even if you are actively trying to slack off, your mind is engaged with work.
To deal with this, you need to simply LEAVE any work-related thoughts at the door.
Compartmentalize Your Work and Other Habits
People are habitual creatures. Building up new habits and removing old ones is difficult.
But if you want to improve your work-life balance, you need to start thinking about habitual separation.
However, if you feel it’s difficult for you to disconnect because your fiery work passion is still igniting, try to slowly transition from your work and focus on building your portfolio or learning something new.
For instance, say you work for eight hours, in the ninth hour, start focusing on optimizing your LinkedIn profile or your online persona instead of just clocking in those hours for the client or your business.
And when you’re done, switch off completely and get a breath of fresh air to spend time with your loved ones.
Don’t Stress About Inactivity or Feelings of Work-Dread
If you are working at an office, the moment you feel work-dread, you can be angry with your boss, the 9-to-5 mentality, the industry, or anything in between.
However, if you are feeling tired and don’t want to work at home, the only person you can be angry with is yourself.
This results in a certain notion of self-hate that only solopreneurs are familiar with.
If you’re unhappy with bosses, think about how it would have been to be in their shoes to manage an entire team and get things moving forward. It’s all a matter of perspective.
The easiest way to overcome this is to shift your mindset and be grateful for the things you have — a job that pays, a place you can call home, and even other little things that bring a smile to your face.
Embrace Social/Work-Free Activities
Last, but not least, make sure that you have a hobby.
Being a solopreneur often means that you are following something you are passionate about.
However, you shouldn’t allow your passion to turn into an obsession.
Make sure that you have activities and interests that you can actively engage with outside of your work-related endeavors.
Don’t try to monetize each second of your life or turn everything into a business/career-booster activity.
Time off should be just that — TIME OFF for your mind and body. Time that you can spend with friends, family, and your favorite hobbies.
A Final Note
You need to realize and celebrate the fact that there are times when you will HATE your work.
We are complicated creatures. You can feel tired for a variety of reasons. It might be due to physical exhaustion, something you ate, or just general stressors from the news and the world around you.
Wanting to be inactive and dreading that you have to work is completely natural.
If you are feeling like this, don’t overanalyze or hate yourself for it. Instead, simply let it wash over you, do the work you have to do, and let the gratification from the finished work alleviate your stress.
This will allow you to be on the top of your work, while not allowing the stress to take over at the same time.
Houston Golden is the Founder & CEO of BAMF, where he led the company from $0 to $3M+ in revenue in its first two years and has built a proven process for turning clients into LinkedIn Influencers through viral content that has generated over 300M+ organic views. He enjoys yoga, running, and surfing, along with playing his ukulele and dreaming of new business ideas and being a father is his favorite thing.
Becoming a freelance business owner is an exciting and lucrative way to earn your living, but taking steps to avoid burnout is an important part of the process. The “freedom” lifestyle of a freelancer can still chain you to your desk if you’re not careful. Following Houston’s excellent work-life balance tips above will help you manage the transition!
Haven’t started your freelance business yet? Now that you’ve gotten tips to help you find balance between work and life, all you need to do is find the right business for you. Check out our FREE Intro to Proofreading workshop to see if proofreading is a good fit for you.