This is a guest article by Indiana Lee. If you want to submit a guest article of your own, be sure to read the guest article guidelines.
The phrase “work-life balance” has always been a little sticky. It implies that work is on one side of an equation, and the rest of your life is on the other, and they should somehow be equal. However, writers, and people in general, aren’t made that way. There’s no line down the middle of you that separates “work” from “life,” and frankly, the distinction can make it easy to be resentful of your work in an unhealthy way.
Instead, it’s much more helpful to look at your “work life” and “home life,” as both parts make up your overall “life.” They still won’t be perfectly equal — more on that later — but it’s a good start on having a healthier outlook on the living you do during writing and the living you do outside of it.
When your work life and home life both have clear priorities that match your values, periods of activity and rest, and nourishing relationships, you’ll be a far happier person with a rewarding, holistic life.
Make your work life enriching
Your “work life” is often framed as being 40 hours a week, generally between 9 and 5, but for a freelance writer, that rarely fits. Instead, you may find yourself working more than 40 hours some weeks and less other weeks. Your work will be a mix of writing, prospecting, marketing, and networking, much of which isn’t paid.
However, that doesn’t mean work has to be stressful or something that you resent. Instead, you can create a work life that enriches your life overall by providing purpose, a way to serve others, and a way to earn money to provide for yourself and your family.
Set multiple types of goals
As a freelancer, when you think about goals, you probably think in terms of revenue. After all, without income, you can’t pay your bills!
However, it’s helpful and makes your work life more enjoyable if you branch out. For example, you might set a goal to find one worthy organization to donate a writing piece to. Or, decide on professional development goals to help you expand your skills.
When setting goals, it’s best to make sure they’re SMART goals. This means the goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. For example, “I want to find one non-profit to donate a 1200-word blog post to this month” is a SMART goal.
Don’t limit your goals to money. Your work life is more fruitful than that.
Find creative ways to manage stress
There’s a lot about being a freelancer that’s stressful. Revenue can be unpredictable, clients can be challenging, and deadlines can be tight. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to manage stress and make it a tool rather than a hindrance.
Unmanaged stress can lead to burnout, which may require you to step away from work entirely for a period of time. To avoid that, try these strategies:
- Realize that anxiety and excitement actually produce the same feelings in your body, and use Mel Robbins’s strategies to turn anxiety into excitement.
- Ensure that your work life includes both activity and rest — the idea that rest is only for your home life is false!
- Review the priorities you have regarding work and see if you’ve taken on too much and you need to either reorganize the workload or set boundaries to ensure you can reach your work goals.
There are many, many ways to manage stress, and different approaches work for different people. For example, you might enjoy journaling, or it might feel too much like work, and drawing is better for you. Finding the ways that your mind and emotions can manage stress is essential.
Make your home life nourishing
Many people think of their home life as encompassing everything their work life isn’t, and as a result, overwhelm themselves on evenings and weekends.
Don’t do that to yourself! Your “friend life” and your “activities life” can be completely separate from your “home life,” and you can decide for yourself how large each part should be. One of the reasons “work-life balance” is so frustrating as a phrase is that it implies everything in your life should be equal, and that isn’t true or healthy.
Let your home life — the part of your life when you’re at home — be nourishing and restorative.
Activity and rest
As a writer, you need to nurture your creativity, and that means ensuring your home life includes both activity and rest, the same way your work life does.
The activity could be physical workouts at a gym, going for a walk, handling some of your errands, or cleaning around your home. The activity helps keep your body in good shape and is also good for your mind.
Resting is equally important and can encompass far more than taking a nap. Resting is anything that you find restorative. It could be talking to friends on the phone or through chat, doing a favorite hobby, journaling or drawing, or a lot of other things.
Having both activity and restorative rest will help you manage your mental and physical health, making you far more creative in all areas of your life.
Prioritize sleep and healthy eating
Another important part of your home life is ensuring you get the right sleep and the right nutrition in your food. How well you sleep and eat can have a significant impact on your productivity in every area of your life.
Eating and sleeping well are often a result of having good routines. For example, having a nighttime wind-down routine, avoiding caffeine after a certain hour, and putting devices away two hours before bedtime can make a significant difference in how well you sleep.
By the same token, having a routine around planning meals, grocery shopping (or ordering groceries for pickup), and making meals at around the same time each day can help you maintain your nutrition, avoid being “hangry,” and fend off junk food snack attacks.
Your life is more than the sum of its parts
Too often, we get stuck thinking of our lives like a puzzle, where each piece should be exactly the same size and have exactly the same priority.
However, life is much more organic than that. Perhaps you’re caring for an ill family member for a season. In that period, your “family life” may take far more energy and focus than other parts of your life. Or, if your business is growing and you’re onboarding a lot of new clients for a time, your “work life” will be a higher priority during that timeframe.
The key is to embrace these changes and allow yourself to create a life that meets your needs while allowing it to evolve as your needs change. When you do, you’ll create a life full of joy and purpose that’s far more than the sum of its parts.
About the author: Indiana Lee lives in the Northwest and has a passion for the environment and wellness. She draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors regularly with her two dogs. Indiana has experience in owning and operating her own business. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @indianalee3.