11 Tips for Achieving the Right Balance Between Your Freelance Writing Business and Your Family Life
“Next to love, balance is the most important thing.”
American basketball player and coach
One of the greatest things about being a freelance copywriter is that you get to work from home. However, this workplace brings its own set of challenges.
It’s not always easy to strike the right balance between your home/family/personal life and business life.
In the early days of your copywriting career, you may have just a few copywriting jobs. This means avoiding the temptation to fill your business hours with non-business activities like Facebook, hanging out with friends, or family or domestic chores.
Once you start getting clients more regularly, it can be difficult to keep yourself from working crazy hours to get a job done.
Admittedly, there have been weeks during which I didn’t plan my time well. That meant I spent too much time working and not enough time with my family.
It was hard for my family to know when I’d be available and when I’d be on a deadline.
It wasn’t the healthiest way to live either because some days I would forfeit exercise to finish a project on time.
After four years of doing this, I’ve gotten considerably better at balancing my personal life and freelancing.
But the truth is, I never had to be that out of balance and neither do you.
Working crazy hours to finish an assignment is unnecessary 95% of the time. You just have to follow a few guidelines for maintaining a well-balanced life.
If you struggle with finding the right work/life mix or want to remain balanced as your business grows, the following eleven tips will help you. It’s worth it. Keeping things balanced will help you and your family stay happy and content.
How to keep balance
Schedule office hours.Create a routine of set business hours. Once they get used to it, it will help your family know what to expect. Plus, it will help you establish the self-discipline you need to be successful. Let your friends know your business hours too. And tell your clients so they won’t expect you to work during your family time. There may be exceptions when you work outside of your scheduled hours, for instance, when you’re under extreme deadline pressure. However, you’ll find when you schedule office hours, you’re more likely to finish your work within this timeframe.
Stick to your office hours.Have a way to “close down the office” when your business hours are over for the day. Shut the door to your office and don’t answer business calls after hours. If you have one phone line and can’t ignore calls coming to your phone, either turn your phone off, leave it in another room, or consider a separate phone line. Occasionally, you may feel you need to take a client’s call after hours. But I’ve found that my clients tend to respect my business hours and rarely, if ever, contact me outside of normal business hours.
Be transparent.One week, you may have more freedom in your schedule than the next. This can be confusing. Let them know what your workload is and when you’ll be able to accommodate special requests.
Keep up your health.Poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The first wealth is health.” Make time for exercise. Without your health, the wealth you create from copywriting means nothing. Moreover, exercise helps you maintain your focus and energy level.
Take mini vacations.
Every day, I take multiple vacations—at least that’s what it feels like. Scheduling ten or 15 minutes on the porch swing chatting with a friend or family member or on the dock with my husband is a way to spend some time with my family, enjoy the perks of working from home, and refresh my brain.
Create your space so that it feels like a vacation atmosphere to you. This might be a place with a great view, a space in your garden, or a room decorated with items that make you feel relaxed. Build time into your schedule to enjoy your space and invite a family member or a friend to join you there.
Practice productive habits.Learn and practice good email, phone call, and scheduling habits right from the start. Things like making a to-do list the night before. Controlling your schedule by only checking emails at set times during the day. And lumping phone calls into a block of time rather than making them randomly throughout the day. These will all make you more productive.
Increase your writing speed.Another secret is to “race yourself.” For example, if it takes you 3 hours to write an email, see if you can write it in 2 ½ hours. Keep “racing” yourself to see how fast you can complete a project. This will help you keep your work time in check as your business grows.
Give yourself an earlier deadline.Things will take as long as the time you have allotted for them. One trick I use is to set deadlines earlier than the project due date. This helps you keep from dragging things out and spending more time on them than necessary. Plus, if something comes up or is taking longer than you expected, it prevents you from working crazy hours near deadline in order to finish on time.
Focus on finishing before starting something new.Working on multiple projects at the same time not only makes you less productive, it can make you feel like you’re behind. This leads to working longer hours to avoid feeling stressed. Rather than having several projects open and 80% complete, focus on one thing at a time until it’s done.
Include family.Granted, most of your work can’t include family. However, there are ways to bring them into your daily routine. Here are a few ways I include my family in my workday.
- Affirmations. At Bootcamp last year, Ted Nicholas shared his daily affirmations. I noticed they made me feel energized and ready to tackle the day. So now, each day after breakfast, my family joins in, yelling, “I feel terrific, YES!” while looking up and throwing our hands in the air. May sound a little goofy, but it’s fun. We even have overnight guests join us, which everyone seems to enjoy. (My sister’s family sent me texts every morning for over a week after they left that said, “I feel terrific, YES!”)
- Reading. A few years ago, my family implemented “Reading Hour.” Everyone snuggled up together on the couch and did some reading for an hour. That is one of the ways I got through the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.
- Daily motivation. Zig Ziglar says, "People often tell me that motivation doesn't last, and I tell them that bathing doesn't either. That's why I recommend it daily." I often read inspirational stories, articles, or ideas at breakfast to the whole family. It serves as my motivation and theirs.
- Review goals. In the article I wrote on goal setting, The Only Sure Way to Make Real Progress This Year, one of the things I write about is reviewing your goals daily. You can do this with your family by going around the table at breakfast and reviewing your goals for the day together. You can also spend time together creating long-term goals.
Treat your business like a business.When you set boundaries and communicate these to your family, friends, and clients, they will respect them. This will go a long way to not only maintaining balance, but making you more productive. And the more productive you are, the more you’ll earn.
Finding the right mix between your family and your business can be quite the balancing act.
However, by following these 11 guidelines, you’ll discover the key to a happy, balanced life in which you can enjoy your family and your work. And while you can’t always predict or plan for everything, your reward for putting in the effort to maintain a well-balanced life will be peace of mind, less stress, productivity, effectiveness, and more.
The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting
Turn the ability to write a simple sales letter into a successful freelance career. Find out how you can make a six-figure income working from anywhere you want as a direct response copywriter. Learn More »