A guest post by James Adams. If you wish to write one, check out the guest-posting guidelines and details.
As a freelancer working at home, your work and play areas are combined. The computer that you use to finish a hard assignment is the same one that you use to play the latest and greatest video game. You tell yourself that if you are awake, you must be working. Here are ten tips to help you regain the balance between work and play.
1. Use separate user accounts your computer: With one computer, it is difficult to separate work from play. At the end of the working day, log out of your computer. If there is a video you want to watch or a game you want to play, log back in as a different user. Use a different background to further the separation.
2. Separate your environment: Create a physical separation between your work environment and your home environment. Set one room aside for your office, bringing in a separate phone line and a separate atmosphere. Put things on the wall which remind you that you should be working. If you have two computers, don’t touch the work computer during your off hours.
3. Wearing work clothes: When company employees are going to work, they put on their work uniform or outfit. On their return home, they change into something more casual. Place yourself into the work mindset by wearing a ‘work outfit’ to help physically separate your work and home life. You can work the hours of your choosing, but you can help distinguish whether you are on or off the clock by your clothing.
4. Money is not the answer: You want to earn more money, but you want to see your friends and enjoy time with your family. You might find that all of your waking hours are spent in the office. Your friends are more important than your work. Having a great conversation with a friend is worth more than the assignment.
5. Set working hours: Freelancers unbalance their lives by believing that they are working if they are awake. To avoid falling into this trap, establish set working times. Declare a specific start and end time to your day. You have the freedom to decide which eight hours of the day that you will work, take advantage of them. When your end time comes, log out of your computer and go ‘home.’
6. Learn to say no: You might find yourself over extending to earn those extra dollars. When a client asks you for work, establish your time to complete it based upon your working hours, not your waking hours. The overtime would be nice, but getting to spend time with your friends and family is better.
7. Track your time: Some find that the time just slips away. Track the time that you are using for specific jobs so you can be more realistic about your turnaround times. If you find that articles are taking more than the expected time, make a note and correct. Keep your calendars and to-do lists separate.
8. Focus: When you are working, focus your time on working. Divide the day into comfortable segments and ask yourself what you are doing within each individual segment. When you use a timer, you can reset yourself each time the bell sounds. Your awareness will make you more efficient.
9. Delegate: You might find yourself working on tasks which are out of your strengths. Sometimes, it is easier to pay another freelancer to do the work. Delegate your work when necessary, so you can focus your attention on your core responsibilities.
10. Work smarter, not harder: Freelancers establish patterns. Be on the lookout for ways to alter the pattern for more efficiency. Try different methods of working. What will happen if you perform the research for your daily jobs in one sitting? How about tracking your time in different increments? Research time management.
Maintaining the balance between work and life is stressful. By devoting yourself completely to your work, you find that you have no time for the more important things. Pull yourself back, become more efficient and relax. Life is more important than work.