Work-life balance can be a tricky thing to navigate for most of us, but especially for freelancers and entrepreneurs. According to a survey from Freelancermap, over 40% of the almost 1,400 respondents said they work more than 40 hours a week, and 25% work more than 50 hours.
For those hoping to escape overwork when going solo, freelance work/life balance might not be so balanced after all. It turns out that a less regimented schedule means that knowing when to call it quits for the day is more difficult. You probably find yourself putting in extra hours on a project until you glance at the clock and see that it’s time for bed. And unfortunately, overwork comes with more downsides than just lack of sleep.
Work/life balance impacts your health
Freelancer work/life balance is a huge issue, and one that, unless prioritized, can have a pretty negative impact on your health. We all know that work-related stress is bad for us, but did you know that chronic stress actually shrinks the part of your brain involved with learning and memory? Chronic stress also increases the size of the amygdala, re-routing neural pathways to make you more receptive to stress.
Besides its impact on your brain, chronic stress can also worsen existing health conditions and lead to depression, anxiety, digestive and reproductive problems, and increase your risk of things like heart disease and diabetes.
Creating better work/life balance with a physical barrier
So how do you find work/life balance when you work for yourself? One way is to think beyond the home office. Now working from home can definitely have its perks, but keeping a firm distinction between your work life and home life is not one of them. It makes it much more difficult to turn off your work mode at the end of the day, or even stop to take an actual lunch break.
Work environments like coworking spaces can be very helpful in this regard. By taking work out of your home and giving yourself a designated place to do business, disconnecting at the end of the day becomes much easier. That physical barrier can help bring back some of the structure you lack when working from home, and in turn help you prioritize a more balanced workday.
Work smarter, not harder
Working smarter, not harder is another way to give yourself more work/life balance in your career. All those freelance hours we mentioned earlier? There are probably some of them that could be utilized more effectively. A big part of that comes in getting organized and knowing when and where you’re most productive.
Coworking can help here, too. You can find the type of workspace, whether it’s a private office, shared desk, or something in between, that fits you best and helps you operate at your most efficient. As Harvard Business Review’s research has found, too much autonomy can be a bad thing when it comes to actually getting stuff done. Researchers found that if freelancers had few daily routines when it came to their workdays, they were less productive. Coworking spaces give members a bit more structure to their schedule, helping increase productivity and motivation.
Outsource if you can
Administrative tasks are a necessary evil when it comes to your freelance business. While traditional office jobs come with accountants and office managers, freelancers have to be the accountant, office manager, and worker all rolled into one. And with only so many hours in a day, it can be hard to find time to both finish your projects and work on things like bookkeeping and invoicing.
Outsourcing when you’re able is a great way to free up time that you can then devote to more high-priority tasks. And outsourcing doesn’t have to apply to just administrative work – you can partner with other freelancers or companies to outsource areas of your projects in which you might not have as much expertise.
Luckily, coworking spaces provide you with a network of entrepreneurs, startups, freelancers, and remote workers who could be potential outsourcing partners (or introduce you to people who can help). It never hurts to get to know fellow members and learn whether they’re open to such partnerships. Just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean you need to go it alone!