Finding Balance as a Freelancer

Finding Balance as a Freelancer Is Like Doing a Handstand

Finding Balance as a Freelancer Is Like Doing a Handstand — Work-life balance is a tricky thing, but so is work-work balance. It’s a tough to find the time for the work you enjoy and do for yourself alongside the work you do for other people (which may be enjoyable, but not necessarily your life’s passion).

I can’t recall where exactly I heard this, but I recently came across some great advice: Balance is something that you do continuously, not something that happens once.

Think of doing a handstand (which may not be a great example since I can’t do a handstand, but go with me on this). You get up on your hands and maybe you teeter a little to one side and totter a bit back to the other. Staying upright means a constant state of movement around a center. It does not mean that you freeze in place. That’s where I tend to find myself falling down (both literally and figuratively, come to think of it, but the literal part is a post for another time). I struggle to find the right combination of rigidity and flexibility that gives me a workable structure.

So here’s my question for you, dear readers: How do you find your balance, and how often do you reevaluate?

Recently, I joined a small business advisory group that meets via Skype once a month. We discuss goals, accomplishments, challenges, and what we’re working on. The purpose, in my opinion, is to create a sense of accountability and a support system, and it’s great. But the problem with checking in every month is that I need to actually set goals and I need to actually expect someone to notice if I don’t do them. Interesting problem, right?

As freelancers, we’re not really accountable to any one individual on a day-to-day basis. You’re accountable to your client for a project, to your editor for an assignment, but in terms of the way you break down your day and how you make use of your time, well, that’s generally up to you.

If you had to give yourself a performance evaluation, how would you rate? Some questions to consider:

  • Do you dress appropriately for work?
  • Are you on time?
  • How’s your attendance record?
  • Have you achieved your quarterly and annual goals?
  • Do you even have quarterly and annual goals?

The beauty of the freelance lifestyle is that we do get to set our own schedule, style, and working conditions. But that doesn’t mean we can just spend our days lolly-gagging around. Not if we want to make money. Not if we want to improve our skills and grow our businesses. Not if we want to know when we have accomplished something.

So, ‘fess up. Do you have balance in your freelance life? And when’s the last time you took stock of your priorities? Leave a comment, and tell me “where you’re at,” as they say in my home state of New Jersey.

Contents Copyright © 2006-2014 Kristen King

2 comments… add one
  • Ricardo Bueno Sep 17, 2009

    Re: “Balance is something that you do continuously, not something that happens once.”

    I like this quote.

    Striving to find a good balance is a daily challenge. Most people consider me lucky for being self-employed under the impression that I get to make my own schedule but the truth is, my schedule is dictated by my clients; daily! And some people want things done NOW! This of course presents a challenge. A daily challenge to find the write work-life balance.

    The good thing is, I love the work that I do (truly) and I’ve gotten better at managing expectations with folks. I used to promise everything “now” and I’d be late on deadlines. Now, I’m more open and as a result manage better relationships with clients. Sometimes it gets to be a lot but again, I’ve gotten better at managing expectations from the beginning.

    At the end of the day, this is what guides me: 1.) Clear Goals, 2.) Hard Work, and 3.) Unwavering Focus.
    .-= Ricardo Bueno´s last blog ..[College Humor Video] Real Life Twitter =-.

  • I’m glad you’re talking about this. Seems like all anyone talks about these days is making money as a freelancer. That’s important for sure, but I think the big payoff of freelancing is the control and freedom you have. So balance is essential.

    I sometimes have a problem with balance because there is no clear line between work life and personal life. So I have to draw lines. Usually this means, okay I’m done and it’s time to get on my bike and do 10 miles. Or if it’s summer, it’s going outside and working in the garden and forgetting about work entirely. Or going to a movie or whatever.

    But if you end up chained to your desk, what’s the point? Where’s the payoff?
    .-= Dean at Pro Copy Tips´s last blog ..How to type special characters =-.

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