This post is not a “how-to”; I should never write anything about work/life balance. I’ve always struggled to find balance, often letting whatever I do consume my entire life. I’m a workaholic. Yet, in this first year of freelancing, I’ve become more aware of why that balance is detrimental to my work. As a result, there are a few areas that I’ve identified as essential to optimizing my time.
Establish Truly Effective Means of Operations & Management: My entire day is not just creating and producing, even though I wish it was. It requires some management and maintenance – emails, finances, project tracking, and marketing (social media and blogging, which I took a step away from for a few months). This side of freelancing can be a time suck. It can take away from my creativity. Each day, my goal is to spend no more than 1 hour with these tasks. I’ve grouped some of them together so that I can more effectively get them done.
Set Your Hours & Stick To Them: For the longest time, I thought I had to work 9am to 5pm. However, it was proving extremely ineffective. My best work happens between 11am – 8pm. I don’t schedule meetings during this time, and I’ve really stopped making plans in the evening during the week. Fridays are an exception, my brain is fried by 5pm. Instead of working around my schedule, I make my schedule work around my work. This change has probably been the best thing to happen to my clients. I’m truly doing better work. In the mornings, I workout, schedule client meetings, write, maybe answer emails (if I want to tackle them then). I don’t work past 8pm, and I don’t check email past then. If I do, my next day is sluggish.
Figure Out Your Pricing & Not Overbooking: I’ve always struggled with this realm of running a business. There are a few different points that I consider when I’m figuring out pricing and number of clients.
- When I purchase something, I like to feel that I got a deal, that I got my money’s worth. I want my clients to feel that way about working with me; the partnership was money well spent.
- An accessible, beautiful, functional, responsive website should be financially accessible.
- The work I produce will always be above average, especially in regards to functionality and performance. I realize that most of my clients have no idea how a website really works, nor can they tell a difference between a poorly coded website and a good website. I’ve personally tried to coach my friends into understanding what a responsive website is and what is not a responsive website. I think they are sick of it.
Figuring out how to price my work so that it is accessible but also fair to the quality I provide has been challenging. This element is something that I’ve slowly been fine tuning over the course of 2015, and it means that I’m taking on significantly fewer projects, but it has allowed me to improve the customer service aspect of my business. As you will see in the next few weeks, the shop will be an avenue where people can have beautiful and responsive websites and blogs at a very affordable price.
About 6 months into full-time freelancing, I listened to these designers talk about the first year of business. The biggest point I took away from it was this: during your first year of business, you are fine-tuning your own business while at the same time establishing client relationships. Because of this, the work/life balance is very hard to achieve. Hearing this from other freelancers was reassuring – everything is a process, but nothing lasts forever.
I’m so excited to check out what these other bloggers wrote about their work-life balance: The B Bar | 26 and Not Counting | Rae Loves | Sarah Hartley | Carrie Loves | Soak and Simmer | The Not Quite Adult | White Cabana | PreppyPanache | LiskaMonet | Alyssa J Freitas | Rossetto | With Love From Ellie | Cake & Lilies | Feathers and Stripes | Leigh Clair | White Oak Creative | Life Modifier | Perfect Enough for Us | Random Little Faves | Jacque Of All Trades | Business Betties | Girl for Granted | Alicia Tenise | The Yuppie Flies | It’s Droolworthy | Something Good Blog | Elana Lyn | Forth Chicago | Emilie Lima Burke | Manifest Yourself | Fit for a Bride Blog | A Little Leopard | Coral and Cognacs | Little Wild Heart | It’s Julien | Boys and Bombshell | Meg Biram | Victoria McGinley
Freelance Files is a personal series that showcases my insights and experiences of being an independent business owner and freelance web designer. While my business is focused on web design, this series showcases more details in the behind the scenes process. Please share in tagging #freelancefiles on Instagram and Twitter.