How Can I Balance My Life and Freelance Career?

Whether you’re a seasoned vet of the freelance life, or you’re bouncing excitedly at the starting line, there’s a few things you’re going to experience on this road.

Exhaustion. Burnout. Too much work and too little time. Life getting in the way. Especially if you’re a WAHM and a freelance writer.

How Can I Balance My Life and Freelance Career?

Exhaustion. Burnout. Too much work and too little time as a freelancer.

The good news is, there are ways to work it out. You can get your life in order without giving up on your career.

When Life Gets In the Way

You’ve got a to-do list a mile long. That’s all fine and dandy, until nothing on the list involves your work, and it’s all just life keeping you from progressing with your freelance writing career. How do you recover from that?

  • Create a schedule, and stick to it. This can be a planner, an app, a notebook, a calendar, or a dry erase board. Experiment and find out what works best for you. If there’s things you have to do on a recurring basis (picking the kids up from school, making dinner, going grocery shopping), get those on it. Then figure out how to note all of the responsibilities coming due in the near future. From there, you can work out exactly how much time you have each day to take on other commitments. Only take on the amount of work you can handle before each given deadline, and don’t overschedule your personal life to where you won’t be able to take on new projects.
  • Learn to say no. It’s a hard word to say, but invaluable to your career. If you want to get your freelance writing business up and running, you can’t go to every PTA meeting, every Tupperware party, every night out on the town. Saying no doesn’t mean you should shun social contact completely, but if you don’t learn to turn down invitations and requests, you will NEVER have time to work. Babysitting your sister’s kids three days a week will kill your productivity, and if you don’t get comfortable with declining gently but firmly, that’s where you’re headed.

When You’re Working More Than You Can Handle

Once you get past the ‘starving artist’ phase of freelancing, you’re going to run into an obstacle you may have been dreaming about not long before – having so many projects to work on, you don’t know how you’re going to get away with sleeping for the foreseeable future.

It sounds like a great place to be when you’re broke and just beginning, but once you’re actually there, you might seriously consider paying your clients to leave you alone for a day. How to make it work:

  • Stop accepting new work that’s due before your current projects. I’m serious. Unless it’s going to pay for your stay in the hospital because of chronic exhaustion, it’s not worth it to take that gig that’s due three days from now. If you’re booked solid for six weeks, don’t accept anything due before eight.
  • Stop over promising yourself. You got yourself into this situation, no two ways about it. You need to figure out how many hours you can realistically work in a day. It can be four, it can be twelve, it can be anywhere in between. Once you have a hard number, start estimating how many hours each project will take you, and multiply it by 1.5. Do the math, and if you don’t have enough hours before a client wants that project finished, either turn it down or ask if it can take more time.

When You’re Burnt Out and Want to Quit

Over the course of any career, most people will be burned out at some point. As a freelance writer, where you have to be self-motivated and on the ball constantly, it’s pretty much inevitable. When there’s no paid vacation, it can be hard to get out of your funk and get back to loving your career, but there are a few strategies to try.

  • Work fewer hours in a day or days in a week if you can. I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but if you’re more than breaking even, consider lightening your load for a while so you feel less pressured.
  • Try a change of scenery. I know, your home office has everything you need. But that coffee shop with free Wi-Fi has COFFEE. Maybe it’s not an option every single day, but getting out of your office/home office/couch-side productivity center every once in a while can do wonders for your motivation. When you change up the routine, things start to feel less boring and tedious.
  • Plan a ‘mental-health week’ into your schedule. Again, not an option for everyone, but if you have the amount of money saved back to take a week off, even if you’re just watching TV at home, it helps. Try to schedule all of your deadlines so that you won’t have to do any work at all that week, so you just have time to relax and refocus before getting back to the grind.

Freelance writing can be challenging, rewarding, exhausting, and everything in between. It can be hard to separate work and home when you work FROM home. But with a little effort to strike a good balance, you can keep it together and live your life while chasing your dreams.

Over to you – how do you balance life and your freelance writing?

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I do have a schedule, but I never really stick to it – I should just get better at that! One of the few things I stick to on my schedule are my practice of Tai Chi and Qi Gong as well as meditation. Especially in the evening. After the kids are in bed (WAHM here too!) I meditate and then I am just refreshed and ready to start the evening work session! There are some really good meditation apps out there and it takes only 10 minutes!Reply to Angelika
Jodi, Yeah! You’re one of us. So glad to have you join our team of dedicated and fierce writers! Love this post btw. I’m a mother to twin toddlers and a freelance writer with a heck number of clients. It’s a daily thing to achieve that balance between getting work done, promotion, marketing, pitching and taking care of your family. What ends up happening is you do everything for everyone else (your clients included) and neglect yourself. Look at me, my glasses broke in TWO almost a month ago and I’m holding them together with super glue until I get an eye appointment…which won’t be until the New Year (too busy). I haven’t had a hair cut since the spring. Too busy. I probably should go see a dentist. Too busy and just too hard with twins. I’m working on it slowly. I often feel guilty if I go and “pamper” myself and my husband or an in-law has to watch the kids. Why don’t I go when they are napping? Well, because I have to work that’s why. Great post though!Reply to Elna