Keeping the balance while freelancing online
Founder & CEO
Freedom and flexibility must have been within your top 10 list of reasons to start freelancing. At first glance, the beauty of the freelancing lifestyle shines beside the rigidity of 9-to-5+ full-time jobs, and you may have been tempted to ride the freelancing wave without giving much thought to the less shiny aspects of the independent worker life.
The dream of owning your schedule, deciding where to work from and being your own boss can turn into an absolute burn-out nightmare pretty quickly, negatively impacting your health and stability.
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I don’t mean to scare you here, just to show you why it is so important to take some steps back, review how you’re managing your freelancing activities and reformulate some of your premises.
Don’t think for a moment that I write this as an expert that has mastered the art of freelancing wellbeing. I have personally failed miserably on some of these aspects. I have learnt from some of my mistakes and have made adjustments that have helped me, but it’s still a work in progress in some other areas where I still need to improve.
You’ll find links to useful information that the Wisar team considers relevant on these matters, to incorporate valuable views and different perspectives.
In the end, the goal is to enjoy what you’re doing, marking a sustainable pace for the long run. Very minor changes will have a tremendously positive effect on your mind, body and spirit wellbeing. Let’s get to it!
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- Clear goals
- A playbook (business rules, procedures, etc)
- Limited resources (people, time and money)
If you want to manage yourself effectively and be your best possible boss, you’ll have to grow from the same roots. Here some basic (but key) questions to reflect upon:
- Goals: What is your personal purpose and how does it connect with your freelancing activities?
- Playbook: What are your personal priorities? How would you picture a well-balanced lifestyle?
- Goals + Playbook + Resources: Have you defined your business plan? (Where do you want to arrive when and how?)
Building over a solid rock
Once you have deeply reflected upon the questions above, you’ll notice there are some gaps in the way you currently operate. Things you take for granted as an employee (at least in companies with good human resources policies) like healthy routines, ergonomics, social interactions, a supporting network of colleagues, learning possibilities, career progression and a stable income are gonna be missing in your new lifestyle unless you make sure to provide them for yourself.
Define a healthy routine
- Study your productivity levels during the day and define your time schedule (wake up time, hours for activities that require high focus, better times for more mechanical tasks, etc) in combination with your family duties (if you have any). For the ones with care responsibilities, this could be challenging, since your productivity highs could coincide with the time your loved ones require your support. Try to find a good balance and negotiate turns and priorities with your support network to make sure you have at least 3 high productivity blocks during the week.
- Plan your meals and block your calendar for them (yes! don’t wait for a strong headache at 5 pm to remind you about that lunch you forgot to take). Beware of your intake of carbohydrates and sugar, processed food, fats and other not-too-healthy options that could deviate too much energy to digestion instead of giving you a shot to be well-nourished and focused on your activities. Try to eat 50% of raw vegetables in your meals and explore the benefits of intermittent fasting and vegetable cold press juices. (Always in coordination with your physician, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to healthy eating).
- Add at least 30 minutes of physical activity to your day plan (you decide the level of intensity, but there are plenty of alternatives from yoga to kickboxing, pick your favourite or a couple of them to diversify a bit and stick to your plan). Finding a fitness buddy or joining an active group could hold you accountable when lower motivation or other activities try to get in your way. But: remember you have to do other stuff (for example, work! Don’t dedicate excessive time here if you don’t want to lose the balance with the rest of your priorities).
- Make some time for social interactions. A good alternative, when possible, is to have your meals in the company of meaningful connections (family, friends, industry colleagues, even current or potential clients). This will help you to have very-needed breaks from work, have some digital disconnection and strengthen your relationships (off course if you don’t talk about work and manage to stay away from your mobile during this time). Planning activities you love with people that give you good energy is a great action for the weekends and after-work afternoons. Do not isolate, recognizing your need for social interaction (even if it has to be virtual), is important for your spirit and will reflect on your mental and physical health.
Be fully present and self-aware
- Does mindfulness ring a bell here? The art of living in the present moment can be oversold (and even the term could be overused and abused nowadays), but the philosophy behind it is really strong: the more connected you are with your inner self and transcendent purpose, the more conscious of your thoughts, emotions, feelings & values, attitudes, behaviour and beliefs you are, the better you can act upon deviators that will prevent you from achieving your wellbeing goals.
- Starting the day with morning routine meditation can help you align with your deepest intentions, while also filling your soul with gratitude for all your blessing, your life, your family, your home, etc. Just 10 minutes of early alignment with yourself could buy you invaluable clarity to face your day with the best attitude.
- Hearing your body is an ability of extreme value, particularly when you’re so passionate about what you do that you forget about anything else, including taking care of yourself. Keep your senses connected to detect any signal of muscle or joint pain (ergonomy alert!), pulse acceleration or breathing difficulties, digestive discomfort, eyes irritation, fatigue signals, etc. Connecting your mind and body is life-critical (I’m not exaggerating here!) for your long term health, hence the sustainability of your business in the long run.
TAKE TIMELY ACTION
Don’t wait to feel bad to remember your healthy habits. Force the passionate workaholic in you to stop before you experience any physical or mental discomfort. Investing in your wellbeing is a business-critical matter. Reserve time for yourself, to rest, to reconnect, to recharge. As my professor for Investment Decision-Making once said, doing nothing is also doing something, and if it’s for you, it’s totally worth it and needed.
Finding the right balance is very personal, and I’d say even a never-ending challenge. Hope these ideas have given you a starting point to reflect on your own situation and act upon those things you can control.
Wait for our next blog post, fully dedicated to practices and tools to make your life easier and avoid losing your mind in the hunt for a successful freelancing career.