You’ve done it! You are building your freelance career and it feels pretty great.
You can work where you want, when you want. You can even work in your PJs and no one will ever know.
But, it’s not all endless cups of coffee and Instagram perfect moments. Sitting in your house, not working, makes you feel weird. You could be emailing clients. Marketing your business. Developing guest posts. The list is endless.
Working from home isn’t all endless cups of coffee and Instagram moments.
You sigh and look around at your stuff. There’s the ridiculously comfortable couch you picked out at that marked down sale. Your selection of coffee mugs and special tea blends. That new novel you’ve wanted to read for months.
And all of it feels…wrong. Like you can only enjoy it after you’ve “made it”, whatever that means.
It’s not supposed to be like this. Your home should be a safe heaven, not a mutated monster that threatens to crush the very existence out of you.
It doesn’t matter. Every time you try to do something nice that’s in no way business related, you feel guilty.
You are serious about carving out a new career for yourself aren’t you? Then you should be working faster. Harder. Smarter.
Who needs sleep anyway? Right?
That’s a sure fire way to burn out and actually stop yourself from achieving the career of your dreams.
You didn’t chose freelancing so you can feel like a stranger in your own house. You picked it for the freedom, flexibility and opportunity it brings.
I’m not going to lie to you, the adjustment is hard. You go from having a set schedule and a regular monthly paycheck to being solely responsible for your earnings and learning a lot of new skills at hyper speed.
Yes, the freedom is exhilarating and it’s also terrifying and overwhelming.
While I love working from home, there are times when my month’s work is less than I thought. When a project’s scope creeps and eats away the spare time carved out in my calendar.
That’s when instead of like a fortress, the house starts feeling like a prison. I can’t stay in it because everything reminds me of work. There’s pitching to be done and posts to be written.
The thing is, there are always going to be things in your business that need doing. That’s not going to go away. But, you can’t do them effectively if you burn yourself out.
Down time isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity for a healthy and productive mind.
The way to battle this is by creating a conscious divide between work and home.
Have a Dedicated Work space
Our feelings about a place are linked to the way the brain forges associations. By assigning a specific, physical space where you do most of your work and keep your office supplies, you are forging a link between work and that particular corner of your house.
When you do it for long enough, your mind will start making the distinction between that space (work) and the rest of the house (less-work.)
But what if you don’t have the space for that?
I live in a one bedroom apartment so a ‘real’ office wasn’t an answer for me. I used to do a lot of my writing cross legged on the bed but it wasn’t ideal for my posture or my sleeping habits.
So, I carved out a little space in a corner of the living room. It’s pretty basic. There’s a desk, a chair, my laptop and too many pens but when I’m in that space, I’m there to work.
That small change made it a lot easier to relax and treat the rest of the house as an actual home. Now if I want a break all I have to do is get up and walk to the couch.
Close Your Work-Related Tabs at the End of Your Work Day
This is especially important if you use your work device for relaxation. The open tabs remind you of what needs to be done and make it more difficult to chill out and recharge those batteries.
Use the “Do Not Disturb” Phone Mode
Now we come to the smartphone question. How do you switch off if clients are constantly able to reach you?
If you are anything like me, you probably have your emails and social media accounts linked to your phone. It’s super handy but it also means that I check them way too often.
I used to have trouble falling asleep, always trying to get one more thing out, one last tweet, one email, a few more lines drafted in through the WordPress app.
The tiny computer in my hand was more powerful than anything I would have imagined owning ten years ago. Heck, I still remember when the iPhone first came out and everyone was more than a little skeptical about smart phones taking off.
So, between 9pm and 7am all notifications are silenced and the only thing that comes through are calls from my favorites. It’s a way to get some privacy back and regain a semblance of a life in a world that’s constantly switched on.
Wrapping it Up
As a freelancer the main source of stress isn’t always going to be your clients. It’s the various fears and worries that come to the surface when you are tired and not where you think you should be.
Setting boundaries between your personal life and your freelance life will help you stay sane and productive even when you have to deal with difficult clients or cracks in your confidence.
Now, instead of feeling uncomfortable everywhere, you have two safe spaces you can call your own and all within an easy couple of seconds commute! Who can ask for more than that?
Do you find it difficult to relax at home? How do you cope with it?