You are a freelancer, and life is grand! You have the freedom to do things your way, to keep your own hours, to wear whatever you want to work. You no longer have to fight traffic or scratch and sweat your way to the top at the office, you are in control of your own destiny.
You are probably excellent at what you do and passionate about your work. In the beginning, you are living your dream, but, it doesn’t take long for the dream to turn into a nightmare.
Mostly this is down to the fact that your work is probably where you live. Making it oh so easy to lose sight of the important things in life… Like a life, which has nothing to do with work.
Truth is, you really do have to get away from work from time to time. This is why large corporations agree with employment law and allow holiday times for their employees — they know through years of research that time away from work is the key to getting the most out of their employees. Forget you are a freelancer and reminisce for a nanosecond about paid holidays from work and remember how you felt after that break away from the office.
The need to get away from work, recharge, and regroup carries over into your life as a Freelancer. It doesn’t just go away.
So, make sure that you have scheduled days off from work:
Take and enjoy your weekends — regardless of the work sitting there to be done. You need at least two days off each week, and during those two days, you need to stay completely away from your home office. Update your answering machine, set your email out of office up, and do not take calls or reply to emails from clients on your days off.
You really do need to set regular work times, which should not exceed 12 hours per day — preferably seven or eight hours ~ a ‘normal’ work day routine. If you make sure that you are solely concentrating on work during your work hours, getting the work done in the hours you have allowed for it shouldn’t be a problem. When your workday is over, leave your office, and close the door. Don’t be tempted to check your work email! It really can wait until tomorrow.
Finally, schedule holidays at least once a year. You need several days off at any one time in order to recharge and regroup. You will find, if you allow time for downtime, that your work is better than it ever was before, your brain is clearer and thought processes are sharper. Yes, you now have the expertise you started your freelancer business with and the brain power of an expert.
I made the mistake in my first year of business of not taking any annual leave away from work, and I suffered. Now, after running my business for a few years I’m better able to know when, as a freelancer, my services will be most in demand – this will obviously differ and is dependent on your clients’ business. I forgo any lengthy summer holiday and take my extended break at Christmas. My clients’ need my services during June, July and August, not so much during the Christmas holiday.
Whatever time of year you take off from your freelancer business, just remember to forget client work and enjoy that bit of you time and forget that you are a freelancer.
If you find that after completing client work you still have a lot of your own admin to complete, perhaps you need to think about outsourcing your admin to a Virtual Assistant.