Passionate professionals are vulnerable to becoming so driven by work that personal well-being is no longer a priority. The autonomous, and often isolating, nature of freelancing heightens that risk for independent contractors.
Are you concerned that your need for optimum work efficiency is overriding your personal needs? Take these cues on how to maintain professional productivity without sacrificing your sense of self.
Write a Mission Statement
If you are self-employed then you are your business. Draw inspiration from the private and non-profit sectors by crafting a mission statement that outlines your freelance career goals. When drafting your mission, start by writing a summary of your professional ambitions. Ask yourself questions like these:
- What motivates me? – Maybe you want to build your brand as a blogger or make enough money to stop working for a month and travel.
- How do I want others to see me? – Do you want to establish yourself as a subject matter expert or are you simply working project-to-project because you value the freedom of freelancing?
- What are my strengths? – Highlighting your strengths can sometimes make it easier to identify your weaknesses. Considering this question is a proactive step toward making improvements in areas of your career that could be draining your personal time.
Putting a mission statement in place is the cornerstone for building a freelance foundation grounded in work-life balance. You can revisit your mission statement when you feel like you’re being too career-focused. Reminding yourself of what you want, rather than only considering offers from clients, will make you less likely to overcommit to projects and more likely to use some of that time cultivating yourself.
Track Your Time
Does your day drag along? Documenting your time is a practice that often yields surprising results in how you spend it. This is especially useful for freelancers weighed down by the frustrating feeling of “It seems like I am working all the time!”
The key to time tracking is noting every action, no matter how insignificant it may appear to be. You wouldn’t ignore a 90 minute block of writing, but three minutes spent scrolling through your Twitter feed is more easily forgotten. When you factor in the instances of mindless browsing you’ve completed across all your social media pages and BuzzFeed quizzes you’ve taken to identify your inner Saved by the Bell character, those minutes quickly amass into hours of wasted time and energy.
Whether you note your activities in an Excel spreadsheet, on a scrap piece of paper, or use the latest in mobile time tracking technology, find a system that works for you.
Arrange a Routine
Once you have a better grasp on how you are spending your time, establish a daily routine that takes into account your work and your wellness. Yes, we freelancers – renegades of the business realm – are notorious for scoffing at structure, but scheduling your professional and personal time into sections with defined starting and stopping points prevents your entire day from feeling like 24 hours on the clock. Work smarter, not harder.
Prioritize Your Person
Regardless of how in control you have convinced yourself that you are, personal dysfunction will eventually contaminate your professional life, and vice versa. When you only prioritize your business side, sooner or later your self-preservation will kick in, causing you to rail against your work. You may feel depressed, start looking for excuses to extend project deadlines or miss them altogether, or you may risk your professional reputation and credibility by doing anything but work.
Making simple strides toward honoring your sense of self goes miles toward maintaining your professional productivity. When you feel better, you work better. Even something as small as setting aside 30 minutes a day to exercise, taking a proper lunch break every day, or scheduling a weekly activity with your best friend can make big advances in revitalizing you personally and professionally.
Give your all to your work, but not all of your Self.