- Make priority lists. There are countless ways to do this. Some people work best when they plan the entire week or month ahead of time, and others do best with a daily to-do list. What works for me might not work for you, and what works for you this year might not work next year. It’s important to be willing to experiment. Don’t get too caught up in the how-tos, though; focus on making a list of priorities. I usually do this by the week, and tentatively assign tasks to each day, with very little planned on Friday. Since my lists tend to be ambitious, I’m then able to move the things that I did not accomplish to Friday if necessary. Sometimes, I’m able to take Friday afternoons off, because I’ve stuck to my plan! If a daily or monthly list works better for you, then use that. Remember to schedule down-time and to leave some time in your schedule empty to use for catching up on work, housework or family obligations.
- Determine which hours you’ll work, and stick to them. Depending on the nature of your business and your clients, you may be able to work at any time of the day or night, or you may need to conduct your business day from nine to five. Regardless of the schedule you choose, don’t allow work to encroach upon the times that you’ve devoted to being with your family, studying or other non-work tasks. In the same respect, find ways to minimize interruptions to your work day. If you have young children and you work from home, this means finding childcare for them. Older kids and your spouse need to be told that you cannot be bothered unless it is an emergency. Focus on work during work-time, and forget about during family-time.
- Garner support. Whether this support is paid or unpaid doesn’t matter. If you have a family and you have been taking care of their needs but now need to devote time to your business, let them know that they need to pick up some of the slack. Your spouse may need to wash his own laundry, and your older children may each need to take a turn cooking dinner. If they are unwilling or unable to do this, you may need to call in the (paid) troops: Don’t feel guilty about hiring a cleaning service to wash your floors and scrub your bathrooms if you’re working on a Saturday. If it frees you up to spend Sunday with your family instead of wielding a mop, then it’s well worth it. Similarly, don’t hesitate to hire an assistant if you can afford to do so; someone else handling some of your paperwork or answering your phone frees you up for more important jobs.
At commonfig, we believe in balance in all facets of life and business. Extremism is never a good thing for personal fulfillment or for success as an entrepreneur. Balance is difficult, and being a freelancer means that you are the one responsible for finding the equilibrium that you need when it comes to work, kids, your home, your spouse and continuing your education. If you haven’t yet quit your day job, then you need to work even harder at achieving balance. Although the obligations that you face may seem overwhelming, others have done it, and you can, too. You don’t have to get sucked into the abyss of workaholism; nor should you neglect to spend enough time on your fledgling business. Here are some ways that you can find balance and save your sanity:
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