Creating the Perfect Work-Life Balance as a Freelance Writer
I’m like Kuzco. I enjoy being carefree, but something always seems to throw off my groove! As a freelance writer, working in the middle of a noisy home, nothing seems to ever go as planned. As I’ve thought about this, I’ve realized that the times I am able to find the perfect work-life balance, there are three key elements that have made it happen: prioritizing, organizing, and relaxing.
Prioritizing Freelance Writing
With how much stuff we constantly add to our lives, it’s super important that we prioritize. As a freelance writer, it’s essential that I spend time working. As a mother, it’s vital that I spend plenty of time with my kids, and also doing things without them, but for them. As an individual, I really like spending time alone to rejuvenate.
How do you know what’s the most important? It depends on the situation. Someone in a financially tight situation might put work as the top priority and will hire a babysitter for a few hours. Someone who is a freelance writer as a second job might prioritize their social life above work. You’ll obviously know what’s most important in your life and how to put it in order.
Personally, I need my income as a freelance writer, so it’s a high priority for me. However, I also prioritize my kids above all else. Because of this, it is absolutely essential that my top priority is to not ever procrastinate, and second in line is to never overload myself with work. If I were to procrastinate a writing job, or commit to one too many projects, and one of my kids came crying to me over being bullied at school, I would stop writing to deal with the situation. This could push the clock beyond my deadline, and then I’d be left to beg my manager for a deadline extension, which is something I hate doing. If I had done the work earlier, or only accepted the amount of work I knew I could handle, I would be more efficient at my job.
Organizing Your Freelance Lifestyle
There’s really a lot that you have to organize if you want your day to run smoothly. In my situation, I have to organize my own job, hobbies, and needs, as well as those of my three rambunctious boys. It’s hard to be in charge of four people, but it can be done! When I speak of organizing your day, I’m talking about:
– Your Time – One of the very best tips I got a few years back from an amazing mother of eight was to write out my schedule and assign something to every single hour. This includes assigning time for your kids’ extracurricular activities as well. If I want to paint my nails, I schedule it in. If I have to drive my son to soccer practice, I schedule it in. If I have committed to three writing projects, I schedule them in. When someone asks for a favor, I can honestly say, “I’m sorry, but I’ve already got plans,” and I don’t have to feel guilty about it.
As far as how to organize your schedule and what to schedule in, it’s all up to you! In the past, I have used a desktop calendar, a dry erase calendar the size of a poster board, and my iPhone calendar app, which are all great. I guess I’m old fashioned though, because I like to literally pencil it all in with a paper planner.
– Your Meals – I have found that when I organize meals and snacks for an entire week at a time, I am way less stressed. When the kids are whining that they’re hungry, I know exactly what to pull out and give to them. When I have a wrench thrown in my day, and the schedule doesn’t go as planned, at least I already know what to make for dinner.
– Your Workspace – Nothing is more chaotic than an unorganized work space. With toys or other “kid” items in the room, the kids will learn that this is not a place set apart for mom or dad to work, and that they are welcome to take over. I had to fill a drawer out in the hall with all the extra pencils and pens so that my kids wouldn’t come and dig through my writing desk. Before I had a separate office, I just made sure that my desk only contained what I needed for work, and the kids were not allowed to clutter it with their schoolwork or crafts. Of course, if you have younger children who need to be in the room with you, a playpen makes it clear that you have your space, and they have theirs.
Relaxing While Writing
Staying relaxed can be so beneficial in more ways than one. I totally get that it’s hard to relax when you have freelance deadlines to meet, kids to take care of, and other responsibilities in general, but that’s exactly why it’s important. I like to think of it this way: If I am less stressed, my freelance writing will be less stressed. Nobody likes a stressful piece of writing, and nobody likes a stressed mother.
If you’ve organized and prioritized, it’s a lot easier to relax. After three hours of work, you can schedule in an hour massage. If you’ve scheduled freelance time during the baby’s nap, schedule a relaxing walk with the stroller for when he wakes up. When you work from home, you really have to be willing to just roll with the punches, but you also get to decide how to roll.
Balance Can Be Achieved While Freelance Writing!
See? It’s not so hard! Prioritize, organize, and relax. When you’ve got that down, your 12 year old will break his arm and you’ll be visiting doctors for three days straight. No big deal…
What would you add to my perfect work-life balance plan? I’m just pretending I’ve got it all together, and could really use your help.