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We’ve all heard of work/life balance. Many freelancers try to implement this balance into our lives. Some of us succeed and some of us don’t. Why is that?
The crux of the reason is because many of us don’t really know exactly what work/life balance means.
If you don’t know the work/life balance meaning exactly, if you don’t understand all that goes into it, how can you successfully create a good balance for yourself?
In this post I’ll give you a detailed explanation of the meaning of work/life balance. I’ll then give you tips on how you as a freelancer can create the best possible balance for yourself.
Work/life balance meaning
The short and simple meaning of work/life balance is it’s the balance you strike between how much you work and how much you don’t work.
For the purposes of this work/life balance definition, I’ll define work not just as your job or career but as follows:
Work = work + all necessary work-like parts of life, such as running errands
Life = all enjoyable aspects of your life outside of work, such as relaxing
Everyone who works has some sort of work/life balance, whether they realize it or not. It’s sort of an invisible entity that can have a big impact on your physical and mental health, your family and loved ones and of course your work.
Even though we may not think much about our work/life balance, it’s a really important part of our lives.
While a healthy balance between our work lives and the rest of our lives is very important, it unfortunately also can be very difficult to achieve.
Good versus bad work/life balance
When we hear the phrase work/life balance, we typically think of it in a positive way. We usually think of having a good work/life balance.
But where there’s something positive, there’s usually also something negative. There is also poor work/life balance.
If you don’t have a good balance between work and the rest of your life, then you’re likely to become overworked. Being overworked feels terrible, and it’s pretty terrible for you. Overwork can lead to burnout, which is a state of exhaustion caused by too much stress.
Burnout can result in physical problems like headaches, muscle pain, loss of appetite and a lower immunity to illness. It can cause mental, emotional and behavioral problems too such as self-doubt, loss of motivation, isolating yourself from others and substance dependency.
So if you have a poor work/life balance, it’s very important that you change it to a good work/life balance.
Unique work/life balance opportunity for freelancers
The challenge to achieve a good balance between your work and the rest of your life can be a lot different for people who have traditional jobs such as company employees, than it is for people who work for themselves, namely freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.
When you’re an employee you may not have a choice as to how much you work and the circumstances under which you work. It may be a challenge to create a work/life balance that is a good fit for you, but lots of traditional workers do succeed at this.
Freelancers and other independent workers may also find it challenging to create a good balance of work and life, but it’s usually easier for us.
While sometimes you may need to work just as much or even possibly more when you freelance, you have more freedom in your work. You have more choice about what kinds of work to do. You also can work when and where you want. This can make life a lot easier. You can feel that you have a good work/life balance even if you’re working a lot.
Everyone has the opportunity to create a healthy work/life balance. As freelancers, though, we don’t just have the opportunity to create a healthy work/life balance. We have the ability to create the absolute best work/life balance anyone could have for themselves.
This is because as freelancers working for ourselves, we don’t have to fit in our lives around our work. We can fit in our work around our lives. This is a big difference and a very important one.
Work/Life Balance Tips
Knowing the work/life balance meaning is one thing. Knowing how to create a good work/life balance for yourself is another.
Creating a good work/life balance is so important, though. You can’t work all the time because it’s not healthy. But you also can’t play all the time because then you won’t be earning any money.
Since earning enough money to support ourselves is obviously very important, our default balance between work and life can be a little lopsided. More of our time and effort can naturally go towards the work part rather than the life part.
There may be nothing wrong with this as long as you love your work and you’re happy, healthy and well-adjusted. If your balance is heavily tilted towards work and you’re not happy about it, though, then you need to do something to shift that balance more towards your life outside of work.
Generally, the way to create a good balance between your work life and the rest of your life is to meet your financial goals while also taking care of your health and doing things that make you happy. The specifics of that are up to each individual person.
Every freelancer’s situation is different. Some things, though, work for almost everyone. Here are few work/life balance tips that are good for pretty much every freelancer.
- Do a type of work that you enjoy doing
- Work the hours you want to work
- Work the days of the week you want to work
- Always do your best work
- Take frequent breaks from your work during the day
- Fit in your work around your life, not the other way around
We’re all unique individuals. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to a good balance between our work lives and our personal lives. We all need to do what’s best for us and our loved ones. How you specifically create a good work/life balance depends totally on you.
For more details about how you personally can create the optimal work/life balance for yourself, watch my webinar with 9am Freelancer Academy 9am Freelancer Academy here.
(This post was originally published on August 23, 2021.)
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Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.