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Tips for Balancing a Digital Freelance Lifestyle

The freelance life is one of difficult struggles with a lot of learning. But it also allows for a unique sense of balance where you have majority control over your time management. This can be a curse or a blessing depending on how responsible you are.

In this post I want to share a few tips for keeping yourself in balance. Freelance work is unlike the commonplace 9-5 office jobs everybody seems to have. You can set your own hours, do work as you please and still setup some play time. Keeping yourself in-check is the best way to mold a successful freelancer’s lifestyle.

Prioritize Everything

When it comes to business you need to have an action plan. Maybe you don’t need to worry so much about priorities around the house. But as a freelancer it’s imperative that you take down some form of priorities. A small to-do list, tasks, or even a calendar system.

Having something physical or digital to quickly glance over gives a stronger sense to the work. You know the priorities aren’t just words on paper and you also understand the steps required to complete them. It may take a few weeks to fine-tune your task management system. But once you have something working stick to it and allow this to become part of your daily routine.

Work Ahead of Time

It can be very difficult keeping your head above water with freelance projects. When first starting out it may be quite the struggle even landing one or two jobs. But as you land more clients it seems like the work will not slow down!

Plan ahead for this rush and don’t let yourself get caught up in the moment. Extra money is great, but working under pressure is not the best solution. Your work quality will deteriorate and it may be difficult keeping in touch with all your clients. Nevermind the problem of keeping up to date with heavy deadlines.

late-night working on the todo list

Projects on a tight schedule will require much more attention than most. I recommend always keeping ahead of schedule for every freelance project you accept. This means you’ll never be in a state of lacking and rushing to get some new adjustments out the door. Of course, this isn’t always possible – but do your best to keep ahead of all due dates. You’ll feel much more relieved come pay day.

Effective Communication

You can skimp by on many smaller projects with just e-mail messages and IM chats. But working freelance on projects with 4 or 5-digit budgets should require some phone conversations or even face-to-face meetings.

The business world is all about efficiency to the highest degree. You need to offer your absolute best and remember that first impressions count! Professionals will not waste time on amateurs and it’s your job to prove that you know what you’re doing.

Basecamp admin dashboard panel

Communicate your skillset and what your strengths are. This is always best illustrated through prior work examples of websites and graphics. Clients are impressed with actions and real tangible products – words can only go so far. But also keep in mind that honesty is highly valued and you should always keep your word.

Avoid Detrimental Planning

You will likely spend at least some time planning out the freelance projects you work with. This can get your mindset focused on a specific idea or set of ideas. But there is a point where planning becomes derivative and you start to wane off course.

I prefer the smallest amount of planning you can have. Get just enough down on paper that you know what the goal is, and start moving! No matter how good your ideas may be, they will not get anywhere unless you take the time to build them. And even by over-analyzing these ideas you may find yourself stressed and trying to overcompensate.

cluttered writing and work desk

Think of your pre-planning stages as just an experiment. You’re trying out some ideas to see if any catch wind – but nothing is set in stone. After a couple days you’ll have so many ideas down it will feel like a struggle to push through the initial barrier.

GMail and Google Calendar events planning

My suggestion is to start small and work in minimal increments. When you have an idea for your minimum viable product it’s easier to push that out the door. Then after tweaking your initial concept you’ll have time for additional features, widgets, design updates, whatever. Freelancing can be harmonious when you have planning and working time in balance to each other.

Find Partners

Another great tactic for managing your freelance work is by partnering up. There are tons of designers and developers out there who are more than happy to work on a joint venture. This may require some marketing, but the benefits are worthwhile.

If you are landing any high-paying freelance gigs then this option is spectacular. You can manage to outsource some of the more complicated work(either design or coding) to other talented individuals. If you’re managing the payment well enough you can still pay another freelancer and walk away with a hefty profit.

Limiting Work Hours

Work ethic is very important if you have any hope of succeeding in life. But there is a point where you can push things too far working enormously long hours. This will result in added stress where you’ll eventually burn out.

strange fancy clock working nights

Be sure to step away from the computer every so often and take a break! Your brain can use the free thought patterns to creatively solve issues you’ve been having. Additionally you can sit down with a clean slate in your head and approach problems from a different angle.

Whatever you do to unwind is just as essential as your work schedule. At the end of the day make sure you can hop offline and enjoy time with family or friends. There is so much to experience in the world and having such a balance in your life offers a broad spectrum of opportunities.

Conclusion

I hope these ideas can adjust your mindset to working in a empowering freelance environment. Beginners and experts alike can understand the importance of balancing creativity. Perfect harmony in your time management skills will bring about the most substantial results. You’ll feel good, your work will look good, and your business life should be running smoothly.


Author:

Jake is a digital researcher and writer on many popular design magazines. He frequently writes on topics including web design, user experience, mobile apps, and project management. You can find him all throughout Google and tweeting @jakerocheleau. Connect with Jake on google+