Struggling with Work-Life Balance as a Freelancer? We Have Some Advice

“Chop life, don’t let work consume you.”

It’s 2 pm on a Sunday, and Kole* who has for the past two days been ill with malaria fever has his brows furrowed and eyes fixed on a laptop screen trying to drum up two thousand words of thoroughly researched nonfiction for his client. He has been at this for the past 24 hours, breaking only to eat poorly prepared fast food and catch snatches of sleep where he dreams of this client’s brief, because even sleep cannot separate him from the work. Freelancer life.

For many freelancers, the phrase “work at work and live outside work” hardly applies. It is almost a myth. Amidst pressures from the quest for money and its attendant expenses, competition and distractions such as power outages and frustrating internet connections, it is often difficult for freelancers to maintain a great work-life balance.

This difficulty is compounded by the constant availability of technology driven online jobs  which cause freelancers to work around the clock, under hyper-stressful conditions in a bid to meet impending deadlines. Continuous work can be damaging as it often affects productivity and efficiency. It can also cause an individual to lose out on life and what really matters. Relationships can be damaged, health may be impaired if the line is not drawn. The problem however, is where and how to draw the line.

How to ensure work-life balance

Work-life balance is a relative concept because the perfect balance for one person might not be so perfect for another. However, certain markers are generally considered acceptable.

  1. Boundary Setting:

Boundary setting remains key to keeping an adequate work-life balance. It is not easy to set boundaries for your work, especially when expenses keep creeping in, but it is totally worth it.

So how do you set boundaries? Think about how best you want to handle your business and how you want to live your life.

Not been attending enough Owambes? Or seeing friends? Want to spend time with family?

How about you mark some dates off your calendar as “family day” and maybe turn off your work applications?

Define how long you want to work weekly, and set strict limits.

These markers would help you in determining the right time frame for work and how to give attention to projects. Most importantly, these markers will help you remain focused.

2. Accountability:

Accountability is key. There is really no point in setting boundaries if you will not be able to stick with them. There are several ways to achieve this. It could mean getting an accountability partner who keeps track of how accountable you are to the set boundaries. It could also mean writing down a list of set boundaries and pinning them somewhere as a reminder. Apps are a wonderful way to keep yourself accountable too, and we have a list below that you’d find useful.

Whatever the method, accountability remains core to achieving work-life balance.

3. Structured Accessibility

Due to technology, accessibility has become relatively easy. This has created an avenue for work to erode private life. For creatives, it is possible to work around the clock daily. It is therefore important to structure accessibility. Know when to check and reply to emails and messages, know when not to pick calls. Structured accessibility contributes greatly to achieving work-life balance.

Here are a few free apps that can help you manage work-life balance as a freelance creative in Nigeria

  1. Toggl
  2. Workflow
  3. RescueTime
  4. Trello
  5. MyLifeOrganized
  6. Todoist
  7. Remember The Milk
  8. Harvest

Maintaining a good work-life balance cannot be overemphasized. It affects health, relationships, performance and possibly the entire individuality of a person. For creatives, it is even more important to draw the line between hard work and too much work or create a style of living that efficiently separates professional life from personal life without allowing one to interrupt or eat into the other, as having a great work life balance increases creativity and productivity. Lauren Ash, yoga instructor and founder of Black Girl In Om says that “when I am feeling my very best and I am in my self-care groove, I will even have dreams that will give me ideas about my brand.”

A balance to work and life for creatives is essential as it makes work and life more exciting and worth living.

Let us know if you have other ideas in the comment section.

(*Fictional character)

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