Before I started working as a freelancer and picking up a variety of projects, I saw the idea of working from home through rose-tinted glasses. I imagine lazing around in my pyjamas, occasionally answering emails and being able to meet my friends for coffee dates whenever I felt like it. But the reality is very far from the truth. Working for yourself can be one of the most difficult, lonely and stressful ways to earn a living and I have often found that the lines between home and work life started to become blurred. I used to find it hard to switch off from my work, and was always answering that one last email of the day at 8 pm (which never really was the last email). I was not able to fully relax on the sofa because I was connecting that space with the work I had done there that day. However, after spending time trying to find some balance between my two spheres, I began to notice the ways I was able to find a little more “me” time and switch off from work. Not only did it make me happier outside of my job, but I felt a lot more motivated when I was sat behind my desk. Here are some of the tips that I found discovered:
Set yourself ‘work hours’
Try to set yourself very strict “work hours”. Make it as if you worked in an office and had to be there by a certain time. No snoozing the alarm or prolonging your breakfast, Tuesdays might not be the best day to make yourself an avocado toast and strawberry pancake breakfast spread! You will feel not only guilty if you sit down at your desk 2 hours after you should have, but for me, the morning hours are when I am most productive. If I push something past 12 pm, it usually doesn’t get finished by the end of the day because my mind doesn’t feel as fresh. Stop procrastinating in the mornings and this will give you the greatest sense of achievement when you can relax in your evenings.
Find your workspace
Make sure you separate your space out at home. I used to work really well in all areas of the flat which was great for moving around whenever I lacked inspiration. But it meant that my entire home felt like a work environment. Over the last month, I have made sure that all work stays at my desk. I never work at the dining table or on the sofa anymore because I was never able to relax there in the evenings after having worked there that day.
For some people, who perhaps don’t have much space at home, separating their space doesn’t work. In which case I definitely suggest going to a nearby coffee shop or co-working space. Whilst there is a daily fee for co-working spaces, sometimes even one day a week can be really refreshing to get out of the house and see some friendly faces. There is definitely something about seeing other people working that motivates me and I find that bringing my work outside with me has really helped get some fresh motivation.
Befriend other freelancers
My last tip for you is to make other freelance friends. Not only can this be really good for networking and sharing projects, but you’ll share an understanding of your working environment and ethic; They’ll know that if you want to meet for a coffee during your lunch break, that you can’t hang around there for hours. Or perhaps you can even meet up to work side by side and help motivate each other. It also means they can always be there for you for freelancing advice, to help you with invoices, clients, finding new work etc. The list of positives is endless. A great way of making new freelance friends is through Facebook groups in your area. I have found there are always lonely freelancers looking for local work buddies through Facebook.
Working for yourself can be a liberating and character building experience. Balancing everything that comes with being your own boss is stressful and can easily get very overwhelming so we need to make sure that we are looking after ourselves too.