Work/Life Balance For Freelancers

You CAN freelance without sacrificing your sanity.

In this section, you’ll learn how to defeat burnout, overcome any doubts and fears that will inevitably creep into your business, and end up with a happy and healthy freelancing business.

I’m a dad to 2 girls and a husband to a lovely wife, and for too many years running my own business made me AND them miserable. My goal with these articles and guides is to help you avoid many of the mistakes I did.

Our views on balancing work with life:

  • Family, friends, and health come first. Plain and simple.
  • You should work to live, not live to work.
  • Don’t let your clients own your availability. Instead, establish the right expectations with your clients so that they know you’ve got a handle of their project.

Whether through 4+ years of in-depth articles, premium courses, the conferences and events I host, or my podcast, my #1 goal is to help you become a more successful freelancer.

Brennan Dunn

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Happier Freelancing

“I’m not enjoying freelancing. It was supposed to be this amazing blend of great money and freedom, but I find myself stressed, bored, or overworked. I’m either chasing down invoices, hustling after new work, or discouraged at yet another wordpress install.” – most freelancers at some point

There are many highs of freelancing: big paychecks, flexible work hours, no boss, and a continually changing environment. There are many lows as well: unpaid invoices, horrible clients, challenges in finding work, and a lack of motivation to finish that dull gig you did land.

Being happy with your freelancing career comes down to managing these realities, and before you can extend and grow the positive aspects, you have to learn to manage the bad.

20 Traits of Successful Freelancers

Have you ever wondered what traits separate exceptional freelancers from the average? You know — people who charge huge rates, work on incredible projects, and just seem to be kicking ass with everything they do?

When I was at LessConf, I heard a talk from Jason Blumer (disclaimer: he’s my CPA.) Jason talked about 20 things that that “rich, creative business owners” (RCBOs) do, and I wanted to relay them on to you.

5 Time Management Tips for Freelancers

Most of us quit our jobs and become freelancers because of the allure of being free. Historically, a freelancer was sort of a medieval mercenary. In a time of serfdom and allegiance for life, they were free of any master.

Modern mercenaries who slay code or battle the dragons of design often switch one master (their former boss) with many (their clients). Unless we’re careful, it’s too easy to give up newfound freedom in exchange for many masters, and the biggest culprit is usually an inability to manage time.

Here are a few steps that can help you put the free back in freelancer.

Limit information intake

Information comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s frivolous – like browsing Hacker News or Reddit. Sometimes it can appear important, taking the form of a conference call or meeting. The fact is, it’s almost impossible to multitask. I often tell my clients, especially when there’s something they need as soon as possible, that I can’t work if I’m on the phone talking about what needs to get done. Information isn’t necessarily bad, but going on a diet is a great idea. When you’re trying to work and produce focus on doing just that.

Eliminate distractions

Email, Skype, Twitter, IM. All of these are productivity killers and cause you to lose time and focus. Try to limit checking email to once or twice a day (morning and evening). This will also encourage your clients to realize that not everything in life is urgent and worthy of an immediate response. Our civilization somehow managed to survive before the advent of cell phones and email-everywhere, and it still can.

Work in short bursts

The Pomodoro technique is what I use to work, blog, or even research. The idea is simple: Work 25 minutes at a time (and do nothing but work), and then break for 5 minutes. Stretch, brew some tea, or look out the window for these five minutes, but don’t think about your work. This allows us to detach ourselves from our work, and to turn on or off our working minds at our own leisure.

Practice saying “No”

We all want to please people, but we shouldn’t sacrifice our own happiness to do that. Usually things that need to be done right away can wait a bit. I respect firms like Pivotal Labs because they have a very strict 9am to 6pm office hours policy, and refuse to do anything outside of those hours. Too many freelancers and consultants carve into their scheduled free time, sacrificing their time with friends and family, to satisfy. Trust me, people respect those of us who don’t respond with “how high?” when asked to jump.

Treat freelancing as a job

This probably sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. I’ve been doing client work for years and have been through a lot of great times and a lot of rough spells. My family life has suffered at times because I had a really hard time of “leaving” work. I worked from home, my laptop was my toolbox, and it was with me everywhere. I was my work. Setup office hours with your clients, confidentally explain the way you work and why, and stick with it.

The only way to achieve freedom as a freelancer is to establish a system and to educate your clients on how it works. Otherwise, your clients will continue to influence you with how they want to work. Remember this: Time is like money. If you don’t earmark and manage it like you would your budget, it will disappear.

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