The topic of work-life balance is a real problem, for both regular employees and freelancers. It is such a huge issue that countless studies have been done about it.
It’s easy enough to say that a freelancer can achieve a good work-life balance better than those who have day jobs, but that may not be the case. Due to the flexibility that freelancers have, the line between work and personal life becomes blurred. Some people may have problems working too much, while others become too lax when it comes to work.
Usually, however, the problem is that the imbalance is due to spending more time on work and neglecting personal life. As you may have experienced, this can have disastrous results.
What are some adverse effect of work-life imbalance?
- Health issues. You get more stressed as the workload piles up, and stress has been known to have negative effects on your body, your mind, and behavior. This will only lead to more problems.
- Absence. This can be physical and/or emotional. You may become the “flake” in your social and family circles, always being absent during get-togethers. Being disconnected may also result in relationship breakdowns. Many a psychologist or divorce attorney will tell you that absence is one of the most common reasons for serious relationship rifts.
- Financial problems. You may think that working longer and harder benefits your business, but if you get physically sick, then your finances will suffer. If you lose friends, you may go down the path of depression.
These three points are umbrella effects that can be broken down into so many other problems that point to one thing: there is nothing positive about having work-life imbalance.
How do you know if your work-life balance is askew?
Asking yourself a few questions can help you determine your situation.
- Do you have trouble sleeping at night because you keep thinking of the work that needs to be done?
- Do you wake up in the morning dreading the day because of your workload?
- Are you more irritable than usual, with little things ticking you off?
- Do you feel like you little or no control over your life?
- Do you see your life as “wash, rinse, repeat”?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then your work-life balance needs some fixing.
You can also ask the people closest to you what they think. They have an outsider’s point of view, which can discern behaviors that you may not realize.
What can you do?
Short answer: work less.
But it’s never that easy, is it? You need to come up with a plan with a specific goal and concrete actions to reach that goal.
Here are some ideas.
- Set boundaries. You can do this by:
- Tracking your time. Set how much time you spend on tasks and how much time you spend on personal activities.
- Take note of social activities. By this, I mean writing them down in you calendar and make sure you go. Clear your schedule ahead of time so you have no excuses not to go.
- Say no. It’s tempting to keep taking on work from your clients. It will make them happy. You’ll get more money. But that’s bound to lead to imbalance, so learn to say no.
- Love yourself. This means taking care of yourself by:
- Paying yourself. Set aside some money to do what you love, whether it’s going to a spa, getting your hair done, or buying something nice.
- Get enough sleep. Different people have different needs, but here’s a good resource from the National Sleep Foundation that will help you determine the best number of hours for you.
- Make more effort to connect. Whether it’s spending more time with your partner and children or going out once in a while with friends, engaging in face-to-face human interaction will do wonders for you.
- Seek help if necessary. Sometimes, we can reach a point where everything seems to be totally out of your control. If you think you cannot cope anymore, don’t hesitate to seek help – from a friend, a family member, or even a professional.
So, have you assessed your work-life balance lately? How is it?