You would think that a solid work-life balance is more manageable for a freelancer, but sometimes it can feel like the opposite. You suddenly go from being gainfully employed and logging 9-to-6 days to hustling 24/7 to ensure your next paycheck.

The good news is, most of the time, there is an undeniable freedom to setting your own hours and logging in from wherever you’d like. It just gets a little tricky when you go on vacation, want a peaceful weekend, or are simply trying to give yourself permission to take a break.

The important thing to remember is that no one can have a life that centers solely on work. It’s not sustainable. And although it’s never a perfect science, we’ve enlisted two freelance professionals who’ve mastered that balancing act to share their most effective strategies.

how to successfully make work-life balance work as a freelancer

How to Successfully Juggle Your Work-Life Balance

Follow these tips from the freelance pros to achieve a healthy work-life balance in no time:

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Like any habit, it takes time plus trial and error to figure out your ideal lifestyle. You can’t go from typically working a classic 9-5 to freelancing overnight (especially if you’re also shifting to fully remote work). But you can start taking baby steps by relieving yourself of the pressure to do it the most perfect way, according to leadership development coach and career expert Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker.

She admits it took her years to really understand the best rhythm that helped her maximize the most impact out of her work, without sacrificing quality of life. A big part of that was taking time to explore her boundaries, being honest about what she needed out of her personal and professional life, and of course, not adding limiting words like ‘must’ or ‘should’ to her self-talk vocabulary.

Take weekends off

Technically speaking, you can make your freelance schedule whatever you want. You could only work weekends and take the whole week off (as long as you still meet your deadlines). But, for most freelancers, making ends meet requires diligence and restraint when setting hours.

Career expert and legal writer Wendi Weiner says that when she was first starting out, she was working nights and weekends to stay afloat. She felt like it was necessary to build her mountain, but now that she’s comfortable with the slopes, she’s able to take the weekends off.

After all, that’s how most professionals structure their weeks, so why shouldn’t freelancers have the same liberty? “This allows me to fully recharge and decompress from an intense work week that I’ve just had,” she adds.

work-life balance tips: create your own definition of productivityFigure out what productivity means for you

Imagine this: you’re traveling with another writer reviewing various luxury properties in Mexico, and you quickly realize you’re not compatible when it comes to your most productive times. One of you prefers to rise early, eat a hearty breakfast, and work non-stop until 3 p.m. so their afternoon is free.  The other is a night owl, working best once the sun goes down and into the wee hours of the night.

Whittaker-Walker says productivity means different things to different people, and it’s important to really double down on the moments when you’re feeling on fire. And it’s okay to be on opposite ends.

persona impact quote by Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker

Whittaker-Walker says:

When we define our personal impact by someone else’s definition, we risk measuring our worth by an arbitrary standard. We also risk losing our sense of purpose. Be conscious of your work and family expectations, but center your purpose. It’s what will help keep you going when the hustle and bustle of life attempt to distract you from your call.

Strategize your to-do list

Sure, you could spend the next eight hours doing every little lingering task on your never-ending list… or you could be more structured with your deliverables. That’s one way that Weiner has given herself space and time to grow her career, while also having downtime alone or with friends and family.

Non-negotiables quote by Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker

She explains:

I make a list of non-negotiable tasks that have to be done each day based on priority level. If the project/task is time-sensitive, it comes first. There are only so many hours in the day, and only so many tasks I can complete as a solo business owner. The priority to-do list keeps me on my toes and also allows me to feel that I don’t need to undertake everything at once.

work-life balance tips from a professional freelance writer

Pay attention to how you work — and when

There are mornings when you jump out of bed the moment the alarm goes off — and others when you can’t get enough of the snooze button. Certain topics can feel effortless to write about, while others feel like walking through molasses.

examples quote by Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker

Whittaker-Walker says it’s essential to remember these moments of ease and stress, and to try and determine what could be triggering the good and the bad:

Think of as many examples as you can, and pay attention to any trends that surface. How can you be intentional about increasing those ease factors? What can you learn about the stress factors? How can you choose differently?

If you’re into journaling, scribble down your patterns so you can identify areas to improve and maximize your productivity in ways that are healthy. A good place to start is to ask yourself how you stay focused without sacrificing personal time. And don’t “snooze” on using some top productivity tools to increase your work efficiency.

Work-Life Balance is the Key to Freelance Success

It doesn’t matter how fast you’re working. If you don’t have balance, it won’t be sustainable and you’ll burn out. That can lead to your work suffering and the possibility of losing clients. Besides following these tips above, it can help to partner up with a content agency to give you a boost.

At ClearVoice, we match your skills and expertise with brands that you can grow and thrive with. Check out our Talent Network to see if we’re right for you. We’d love to help.