Achieving work-life balance is hard for anyone, but it can be particularly difficult for independent professionals who have to balance the demands of multiple clients while running their own business. While poor work-life balance can lead to significant consequences in your personal life and career, making a few small changes can bring big results. Here is a look at some of the consequences of overworking along with three ways you can bring a better balance to your life.
Stress and fatigue. As an independent, you can literally work around the clock if you choose to do so. But carefully consider the impact of the hours you decide to work. It’s easier to make mistakes when you’re stressed out and exhausted, and if the quality of your work suffers so will your professional reputation.
Increasing expectations. If you work late nights and weekends on a regular basis, people will start to assume that these are your normal hours and will expect you to be available at all hours of the day. If you don’t specify your work hours and stick to them, you devalue your time and market value.
Relationship deterioration. It can be easy to see your work as all-consuming and prioritize your business over your personal life, but this often comes at a cost to your friends and family. Take a moment to determine your most important business and personal priorities and schedule time for both. This way, you’ll have the key ingredients not only for a successful business but also for a successful life.
1. Learn to Say No
If a potential client asks you to do a last-minute project when your plate is already completely full, it is okay to respectfully tell them that you can’t take on more work at this time. This will help give you more time to do the things you enjoy, rather than powering through projects just because you feel like you have to.
2. Stick to a Schedule
Set a daily time by which you must be absolutely finished with work. This time may vary depending on other factors, such as how many days you work each week and if you start working earlier or later in the morning. The important thing to keep in mind is to choose a time that works for you and then stick to it—unless it’s urgent, don’t worry about work, check email, or go back to finish a small task. Once you’re done for the day, you’re done.
3. Make Time for Yourself
If you neglect your personal needs, you’ll soon find yourself feeling exhausted and burned out. Be sure to prioritize things that you enjoy, whether that means setting aside time to watch your favorite morning news show, taking a long walk during the middle of your day, or taking advantage of working from home by cooking healthy meals for yourself. Whatever your personal interests, don’t let an overwhelming amount of work take away from your basic needs to stay healthy and happy. Remember, one of the biggest perks of independence is flexibility, so use it to your advantage!