In 2016 there were 2 million freelancers working in the UK – a rise of 43% during the previous eight years. But whether you’re a freelance copywriter, you work from home or you balance paid work with freelancing, trying to keep your personal and professional lives separate without the traditional office boundaries can be a challenge.
However, there are plenty of easy ways to prevent your career having a negative impact on your private life as well as your health and mental well-being, from switching up your environment to investing in a business phone number. Below we offer some work/life balance tips for freelance copywriters:
1. Manage your time
It sounds obvious but it’s one of the most difficult aspects of freelancing to master. In fact, many people in employment believe they lack the willpower to work for themselves. But whether you’re a chronic procrastinator or you tend to take on too much work, drawing up a schedule is crucial so that you don’t end up spending more time than necessary on a task.
The beauty of being a freelance content writer is that you can choose to work at a time that suits you. However, too much freedom can be a bad thing. Define the parameters of your working day and don’t overstep them. Task management platforms like Trello and DropTask are invaluable if you have to juggle a lot of jobs or crave structure. Or a simple calendar can do the trick.
If you know you tend to spend far longer than you should, ensure you set strict time limits and don’t be tempted to overstretch yourself. You might even find it helps to work on one job in the morning and another in the afternoon so that you can make steady gains while keeping your mind fresh.
2. Shake up your environment
For some, working from the confines of the home could be a recipe for going stir crazy. It’s best to try and have a designated office space, even if it’s just the corner of your living room so that you can leave it and mentally switch off when you’ve finished working.
Finding the home too distracting? Try taking your laptop to a quiet café or find a nearby coworking space. If you live in a remote area, make an effort to take a short walk or go out and grab lunch to give your mind some respite and help break up the day.
3. Keep your personal time personal
Don’t run the risk of letting your freelancing bleed into your personal life. The best way to do this is to make plans with friends and family – and stick to them! If you plan to meet your best friend in the pub, have tickets for a show or you’ve committed to a weekly exercise class, you’ll feel better knowing you have something to look forward to and for having some time away from the desk. Make sure you also schedule time for yourself, whether to work on a personal project or hobby, or simply relax with a good book.
4. Use your time well
Being a freelancer means accepting that workload ebbs and flows. Get into the habit of being smart with your time, capitalising on any fallow periods by catching up on accounts and invoices, and writing and scheduling your own blog and social media posts with a tool like Hootsuite. This means you won’t feel the need to let it encroach on your free time when you’re suddenly inundated with work. Employing an accountant or investing in accounting software is also a useful way to save yourself some time when it comes to completing your end of year tax return.
When you’re going through a busy period, prioritise your jobs by deadline but aim to make a start on new jobs as soon as you can. Even if you that just means doing some preliminary research or getting some ideas down – it will help you feel better that you’ve made some headway when you finally get round to it and will give you chance to clarify any parts of the brief you’re not sure about before it’s too late. Also, just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the perks. Grab an early finish when you can – it will do wonders for your self-esteem!
5. Know your limits
Be realistic about how long it will take you to complete a job and be upfront with your client if you can’t complete it to deadline – or at all. It can be tempting to say yes to every job that comes your way, but you’ll only end up working longer hours which will have a knock-on effect on your personal relationships and even your health. Ultimately, you could find yourself out of work for longer if you’re beset with stress or exhaustion. Some projects might have to fall by the wayside but the client will appreciate your honesty and may even be willing to extend the deadline.
6. Make time to log out
In the gig economy, it can be tempting to stay chained to your smartphone or laptop, retweeting social media posts, checking stats, networking and hustling for work. But all of this can contribute to unnecessary strain, leaving you feeling exhausted. Make time to disconnect from the internet and your tech for at least a few hours on an evening and at weekends. Planning regular holidays or a few days away can also help refresh what may sometimes feel like a monotonous day-to-day cycle.
7. Separate your devices
If possible, buy a separate computer for personal use. This means when you’ve finished working you can put your computer to bed and won’t be reminded of what you’ve been working on, be tempted to tweak that blog post or fire off an email.
8. Get a business number
Having a separate computer might be a choice, but having a work number really isn’t. For starters, having a dedicated business number from an app like Another Number means you can choose to receive calls during your designated ‘office hours’ so that you can spend more quality time with friends and family.
What’s more, you can use it on your website or online business listings without compromising the privacy of your personal phone line so that you needn’t worry about nuisance calls when you’re relaxing. Just as crucial, having a work number helps manage client expectations by letting them know that just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean you can take their calls at all hours of the day.
The app allows you to have a second mobile number on your smartphone without the need for another contract or sim. It means you can continue to provide a professional service without having to carry a second phone around. Another Number also has custom ‘do not disturb’ and auto-reply messages features. Plus, when you receive a call, you know before you even pick it up whether it will be personal or business related, allowing you to take it somewhere more private if necessary.