Learn how freelancer writers can achieve a work-life balance that earns income without sacrificing enjoyment.
Ever heard this saying? “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.” The proverb, dating back to the fifteenth century, still rings true today. In fact, a study conducted by the global management consulting firm, Accenture, revealed that more than half of surveyed professionals considered work-life balance the top indicator of career success. It even topped the importance of income earned.
What is work-life balance? In essence, it is the autonomy to make choices and decide what to do with one’s time. This balance also involves time-management choices that enhance quality of life. One study of administrative workers in an office setting gave a clear picture of this situation. Workers who used their lunch breaks to participate in activities they enjoyed (rather than eating at their desk or socializing with coworkers whose company they did not necessarily enjoy) were happier at the end of the day. By definition, freelancers are entirely free to make their own choices about time-management. That freedom is half of the work-life-balance battle. The other half involves making well-rounded choices (choices that are not all work or all play).
Becoming a workaholic is clearly detrimental to a balanced life. Freelance writers are especially prone to falling into this trap, since they typically work at home and rarely “leave the office.” Freelancers unable to resist the pull of their laptop are never fully present. Small, symbolic gestures can help a freelancer disconnect from work mode; these actions may require physically disconnecting (unplugging) the computer to avoid temptation. Slipping away from the family to work on next week’s set of blog posts is a sign of imbalance. Just as workers leave the office at a certain time, freelancers should set their own quitting time. When that time rolls around, they close the office door, making the mental shift that they are “off the clock” for the day.
It is tempting for freelancer writers to spend an entire day, or more, without leaving “the office.” However, it is not healthy, nor is it indicative of work-life balance. To detach from work is to refresh the mind and energize the body. One study concluded that regular exercise enthusiasts lowered their work-related stress and improved their ability to manage conflicts between work and family. This ability is an especially valuable skill for freelancer writers. Additionally, the simple act of getting out of the house regularly can boost a person’s mood and generate a new perspective. Doing something beneficial to health is a definite step toward a balanced life.
Failing to devote enough time to work can have equally negative consequences. The fact that freelance writers make their own schedules can be a double-edged sword. Freelancers who take advantage of this flexibility may find they miss deadlines or rush to complete their projects. If the quality of a freelancer’s writing suffers, he or she jeopardizes that income. What is the biggest blow to a balanced life? Having to worry about generating enough income to pay the bills.
The bottom line? One never gets time back. Overworking can cause neglect to loved ones and failed life enjoyment; endless procrastination often hampers productivity. Both of these scenarios represent time that is carelessly squandered. Money is important, but it should not be the sole end goal. To achieve a balanced life, view work as necessary to make money — money that is helpful in boosting quality of life.
How do you achieve a work-life balance? Let us know in the comments below.