Most freelancers find that working from home is simpler, cheaper and more convenient than the other options. There are plenty of positives but also a fair few negatives to this set up.
The number one struggle is distractions which can halt your working day and drain productivity. However, the problem we’ll be talking about today is almost the direct opposite – working so much that work creeps into your personal life.
Some freelancers find it hard to switch off, especially if they work from home. While some may call them lucky, for having the focus and concentration which doesn’t come naturally to us all, it has its own share of issues.
First of all, it’s more difficult to relax. Relaxation and rest is essential to maintaining good mental health but also to ensure you’re working to the best of your ability when you do sit down at your desk. Here are some ways to keep your work and personal life separate.
Have a work-only space
This is easier said than done of course. For those with a spare room, you can set up a dedicated office. You can step inside and be in work mode, and step out at the end of the day.
For those relying on space on the kitchen table, it gets a bit trickier. You can try a hideaway desk that you only open up when working.
These look like storage units/cabinets but typically have a desk you can unfold or pull out to work at if you’re limited on space.
Alternatively, if you work in your bedroom or at the kitchen table you could shut the door and ask those you live with to not disturb you while you’re working. Set up your laptop, grab your notepad and tune out the rest of the world.
Have set hours
Set working hours can help you get into work mode at the right time. It can also help you cut down on distractions if you explain when you’ll be working to those you live with.
Tell them that you should only be disturbed with emergencies so that you’re not constantly stepping away from your desk and losing concentration.
Tell your clients when they can contact you
If they’re emailing on Saturday morning and you reply, they’re going to expect it every Saturday, whether you’re busy or not. Soon you’ll become fed up and work will eat into your free time. You may even come to resent the client and the work. Don’t let it get to this point!
If you’re going to have set hours for yourself, make sure you share them with your client too. This may not be such an issue if you don’t phone or receive calls but if clients expect an instant response to emails, they’re going to get disappointed quickly unless you explain the situation.
Take a holiday (a real one)
Everyone needs a break, but some people do “just a tiny bit of work” while they’re meant to be relaxing. While you may prefer this set up, so you’re not losing money over the duration of your holiday, make sure you’re setting plenty of time just for yourself as well.
You won’t return feeling well rested if you’ve spent half your time answering emails and fixing problems for clients. Being stressed out means you’ll struggle to enjoy yourself and this could take a toll on those you go on holiday with too.
Have work mode signals
Some people, to get into work mode have certain rituals to get them in the right frame of mind. One is stepping into a dedicated office, another could be listening to a certain type of music, another lighting incense or candles. Try a habit like this to remind yourself you’re in work mode by using sensory cues.
Do you struggle with work/personal life boundaries? Or do you have strict rules that help you? Please share your thoughts below.