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6 ways to find work-family balance for freelancers

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Written by Gwen Stewart

As a freelancer with a family, you have likely often faced difficulty in finding work life balance. More often than not, a freelancer’s family simply doesn’t understand that even though you are home, you are working at home and shouldn’t be disturbed. Likewise, you probably sometimes feel obligated to put aside your work and go join your family in the other room. Without being able to efficiently balance family time and work time, one or the other may suffer, of even both. Discover how to achieve a healthy, efficient balance with these tips, and improve both your work and your family life.

1. Develop a schedule and stick to it

Freelancers often have the luxury to work at any hours they choose. This is fine if you live alone, but if you have a family, you must take them into consideration as well when planning your work schedule. This might be hard to do at first, but with self-discipline and perseverance, you’ll be able to stick to a specific work schedule that not only works, but also fosters improved work habits. Once you have become conditioned to your schedule, you’ll know exactly how much time you have to work each day, and you’ll be better at avoiding distraction and procrastination in order to better meet your daily work goals.

2. Train your family

This next step is a bit more difficult, but not impossible. You need to train your family to understand that work time is work time, and they must respectfully leave you alone to work during that time. When working at home, it is all too easy for your spouse or children to come into your work area for one thing or another, not fully understanding that even though you are home, you are at work. If you need to lock yourself into a room until they realise this, do it. But hopefully you won’t have to resort to such extremes.

Try instead to simply talk with your family to impress upon them that you are trying to create a better balance of work time and family time, and to do this you need their cooperation. If your children are too young to understand this, it will be your spouse’s job to keep them from distracting you.

3. Improve your organisation

Learn how to be better organised and improve your time management skills, so that you can work more efficiently and produce more work in the allotted time you have to do it. By being able to complete a healthy amount of work each day, you’ll be able to spend more time with your family without stressing about the work still yet to be done.

4. Keep work at work

Even after scheduled work hours have ended, many freelancers still have the bad habits of consistently checking their email, taking phone calls, or doing other work-related activities while they are supposed to be spending quality time with their family. It is up to you to control these urges. If your family can respect your work time, then you must make every effort to respect family time. Remember, work may be important, but your family is more important—don’t choose the former at the expense of the latter. It isn’t always difficult to find work; it’s very difficult to find a good family.

5. Plan in advance

If you have taken on a project that you know is going to require extra work time, make sure you plan ahead for it by letting your family know in as much advance as possible. That way it won’t come as a surprise to them when you spend more time in your office or work area—they might even find ways to offer you more encouragement, something that will surely be appreciated as you might tend to feel guilty about spending more time at work and less time with your family.

6. Outsource

You might consider outsourcing some of your work. Sure, you’ll make a smaller percentage of profit, but the extra quality time you get to spend with your family will more than make up for it.

Gwen Stewart is a business development professional and writer for Outbounding.com on behalf of sharefile.com. Her line of work often requires she have reliable file share solutions and a solid strategy for meeting tight deadlines. Any spare time she can scrape together finds her hiking, reading and enjoying the company of great friends.
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Photo credit: Paxon Woelber via Flickr cc

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About Greg Dillon

Greg is the founder of strategy consultancy GD | Inspires and spends his days strategising for various design agencies and clients around the world - see more at http://gdinspires.com. He is also a prolific entrepreneur having launched Strat-Talking.com - a website aimed at giving advice and insight to new, existing and veteran freelancers as well as commenting on all things strategic as well as acquiring CreativeAgencyFreelancing.com for designers. Feel free to email him at: greg@gdinspires.com or follow on Twitter @CAFreelancing.

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