Many freelancers find themselves working longer hours and weekends, always on call and fitting in accounts long after the family has gone to bed. Not only does this generate stress but it also can be both mentally and physically exhausting.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Work life balance describes the relationship between your work and the commitments in the rest of your life, and how they impact on one another. It can be difficult to achieve the ideal work-life balance as a sole trader or freelancer, but it’s not impossible. It all comes down to establishing a few processes and priorities.
1. Know Your Priorities
What’s most important to you in life? Spending time with your spouse? Attending your children’s sporting activities? Having time for exercise or socialising? They’re all legitimate personal priorities, and first you need to define them by these following steps:
- When Creating a list of things you consider priorities. Ask yourself:
- What makes me happy?
- What is my purpose in life?
- What gives me pride and a sense of accomplishment?
- What legacy do I want to leave?
- If I took this thing away, would I regret it later?
- Place them in order of importance and pick out the top three
- Focus on these priorities and think about what you need to do or change to honor them. Do you need to earn a certain amount of money, have a certain day or time off, or schedule activities like exercise or relaxation for early mornings?
The possibilities are endless and depend on your unique situation. Spend time writing down what you need to change, limit or commit to in order to include these priority activities in your life.
2. Find Time for Finances
For many sole traders and contractors, looking after finances is a dreaded monthly or quarterly activity.
Being tech-savvy is one way that will help you manage and organise all money-related matters. If you use your time wisely by investing in cloud-based accounting software, such as QuickBooks Self-Employed, you can take care of your financial needs such as tracking cash flow, sending quotes and invoices, tracking sales and expenses, scanning receipts, automatically tracking mileage or even paying employees.
Taking advantage of technology such as the QuickBooks Self-Employed app will not only help you grow your business, but will save you time and money.
To find time to do your finances, you could:
- Jot down your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly financial needs (these are the items you manage before handing any relevant paperwork to your bookkeeper or accountant)
- Research the range of simple financial software options available to suit your needs
- Choose the right accounting software, device and data plan for your business
3. Create a Routine and Get Organised
Think back to your priorities and overall business goals, and do some research on what the top achievers in the business world do in their daily routines. Then write down a possible routine that will suit you and create the work-life balance you’re looking for. Include some ways to get more organised, such as:
- Set aside time to exercise or meditate
- Set your three ‘most important things’ (MITs) or ‘mini-goals’ for the day
- Write down your money-making activities first
- Improve productivity and achieve more in less time by taking advantage of modern technology and automation solutions
- Do something fun when you get home.
4. Communicate Effectively
Effective communication is important, especially in business. For some freelancers, this might include providing clear instructions to people you work with or outsourced contractors. Clear communication at the start of a project saves time, energy and frustrations down the track.
It’s also important to recognise that work-life balance can fall to pieces simply because your workload increases suddenly. For example, a new client or huge project could drop unexpectedly. When this happens, take the time to communicate your increased workload to those around you – friends and family as well as co-workers.
- Determine whether the increased workload is temporary. If it’s a new client and the work is ongoing, revisit your priorities to see what – if anything – needs to change
- Consider outsourcing minor tasks. Increased business should also mean increased ability to bring in help – don’t allow yourself to work this way indefinitely.
5. Give 100% Effort All Day
This one is probably a given for most people. Just remember: if you are fully present during your workday ‒ and don’t allow yourself to get distracted with time-killers like social media and web surfing ‒ you can finish the day as early as possible, leaving time for your priorities and achieving that coveted work-life balance.
Many home-based sole traders struggle to strike a healthy balance as the lines between work and everyday life become blurred. Although it can be hard to attain the right balance, it’s not impossible.
Define your priorities, find time for your finances and live by a set routine – then you’ll be on track for a perfect work-life balance for you and your family.