I have been asked by Hiive to share some tips on how to achieve the sometimes elusive work/life balance. Hiive is a professional networking site for people working in creative roles. The platform allows you to promote yourself, collaborate with others, access courses and find work.
Until recently, the work/life balance is something I have struggled greatly with. If I am honest, it is still work in progress but, over the past few weeks, I have begun to implement some new ways of working that have really started to pay off and have moved me closer to the sweet spot.
- You are not superwoman (or man!) – Be realistic about the amount of work you can take on at any one time and the amount you can get done in a day. I am often guilty of thinking I can do an infinite amount of work and usually nearly kill myself trying. Just realising that you are not super human, and you have limits, just like everyone else can take the pressure off. There are projects that you don’t need to do; have the confidence to turn opportunities down if they aren’t exactly what you want; other opportunities will come along.
- Set boundaries – Be strict with yourself. Being a freelancer, especially if you work from home, means that you don’t have a clocking off time. There is no caretaker waiting to lock the office, so you can work whenever you want. This is seen as a bonus by many freelancers but it actually means we don’t clock off; we can just do a little bit of work here and there and never really stop. So find some boundaries that you are happy with. It might be that you don’t want to work at the weekend, or past a certain time in the evening. Whatever it is, set your boundary and stick to it. Be your own caretaker.
- Have your own work space – This is a new one for me, but until recently I worked on the couch, balancing the computer on the arm. I have created my own little office in the corner of the living room and the resulting change was amazing. I feel more organised, more professional and more able to step away from work if I want to.
- Detailed to-do list – If like me, you tend to take on too many projects, then I think you can run the risk of being ineffective when we think we are being effective. I have a habit of being all over everything, people think I am organised (and compared to some I am), but I know I could be way more organised. I spread myself too thin and dip in and out of things constantly. To avoid this write a to-do list, but make sure it is detailed. You could organise in priority order or in time taken to complete task. Then focus on it and tick things off. When you feel distracted by another task, stick to the list.
- Set a timer for certain tasks / Time blocking – Certain things we do in our working lives can be time sinks. Email can be one of them, we can spend much more time responding than we intend to, dipping in and out all day. So decide to check them at a couple of times a day and stick to your allocated time.
- Focus on a single task at one time – The One Thing by Gary Keller is a number 1 Amazon best seller, focuses on the best way to achieve and be successful is to focus on one thing.
If you chase two rabbits you will not catch either one
- Switch off – I am not going to tell you to turn your phones off for the whole weekend, as that is probably unrealistic. However, you should have some family time away from the distractions of technology, not just for your family, but also for yourself. So think about what you could cope with and again stick to it. You have to manage yourself and that includes learning to make yourself stop and switch off.
- Find something else you are passionate about – I am sure that you are passionate about your family, but I think it is a great balancer to find a hobby that you love as much as you love your work. Something that you will look forward to doing. Something that you won’t mind finishing work to go and do.
- Don’t beat yourself up if at times an imbalance occurs – There are times when things will get hectic, either in your work life or personal life and any balance that you have managed to achieve with be threatened. So when these times come knocking, just give yourself a break and don’t feel bad that things become briefly unbalanced; you have done it once you can do it again.
Are you a freelancer? Do you have any tips for maintaining a good work life balance?
Remember to have a look at Hiive and see how they can help you achieve more in your creative life.