One of the most difficult aspects of being self-employed is keeping your work-life balance in place. It can be tempting to keep trying to get just a little more work done, but if you aren't careful, before you realize it, you are working every evening instead of spending time with family and friends, pursing some of your own interests or just having some downtime. When you're working for yourself, it's important to make sure that you don't become the worst boss you've ever had. The tips below can help you set better boundaries so that you can work to live instead of living to work.
Create Barriers and Rituals
Choose your work hours and follow them routinely, just as you would if you were an employee. Try not to work more than 40-50 hours per week, and make an effort to take two days off each week. Of course, there will be times when this isn't possible, but you should seal off your work time from the rest of your life as much as you can. If you work from home instead of going out to an office, you have an even bigger challenge since you don't have a change of physical location as a cue for being on and off work.
A home office is the perfect arrangement, but you may lack the space. A dedicated corner is better than nothing, but the fact is, if you are like a lot of people you might prefer to work on a sofa, outside or even from bed. If you really are more productive in these other locations, you'll still need to set some rules around when you shut off the computer and relax.
Streamline Your Life
You'll be more tempted to stay at work longer if the reward for knocking off early is just chores and errands. Therefore, you may want to consider what parts of your life you can automate or outsource. You could have a housecleaner come in once a week, or you could have a standing grocery delivery arranged. If you choose the latter option, you can mix this up with other types of food delivery to ensure you're not eating the same food day in and day out. For example, signing up for a snack subscription box can keep a steady supply of interesting snack food coming your way. You could get a snack crate that offers food from all over the world. This can also be a great gift to your best customers or clients.
Limit Your Communication
These days, employees complain about bosses who expect them to be available 24/7, even when they go on vacation. When you're self-employed, you'll find yourself fighting this same tendency. Resist the urge to check work email, texts or other communication methods outside of your office hours. Have a separate phone for work if it helps. When you go on vacation, leave an out of office reply. If you're worried about missing something urgent, you can always hire an answering service to screen calls after hours or while you're on vacation and pass only the most important ones on to you.