Make Time for YOU – Part One
Many freelancers are stuck in a rut. We don’t dare pass up work because we aren’t confident it will keep coming in.
We forgo weekend plans and even vacations because we are busy. But guess what? All work and no play leads to burnout.
It’s important not to forget that you do have a life outside of your office space. You don’t have to be stuck in front of a computer forever, just because you are a freelancer.
I came across this article on Inc.com that asked busy entrepreneurs to share their best tricks for coping with the daily grind. While the advice is geared towards start-ups, I’ve added my thoughts on how the advice can be heeded for freelancers. Here are some of my favorites:
Make What Time You Spend With Your Family Count
Drive the kids to school each day and really talk to them without checking your e-mail. Turn off the cell phone entirely when you’re playing with them, or you are watching their games. Don’t think about work during that time. High quality time really counts. – Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, a visual voice-mail smartphone app.
It’s important to MAKE time to spend with your family. I am a newly married woman without kids, with a husband who is addicted to his iPhone and MacBook. He travels a lot for work, and I have been busy with tradeshows on the weekends. The other night I put my foot down—NO TECHNOLOGY!
We made dinner, rented a movie, and turned our cell phones, iPad, and computers off. Even when Shane wanted to look something up about the movie we were watching, I told him it could wait until tomorrow. And you know what? It did! We paid attention to each other—which is something we both desperately needed to do.
Don’t Check Email First Thing In The Morning
The first thing I used to do after waking up was read e-mails and reply to urgent ones on my iPhone. My brain went from sleep to start-up mode in only a few seconds. That was killing, so I forced myself to not read e-mail first thing in the morning. The funny thing is that if you allow yourself to wake up gradually, it feels like you slept better and longer. Now I shower and have breakfast before reading my e-mail. – Ronald Mannak, founder and CEO, Yobble, creator of the Air Guitar Move iPhone appcessory.
I am not a morning person. And I’m worthless until I have had a shower. I don’t even think about turning my computer on until I have had a shower, gotten dressed, and put some clothes on. If I check my email first thing, I’ll be tempted to spend the rest of the day working in my pajamas.
Change Your Definition Of Vacation
When on vacation I work eight hours less per day – so I only work four to six hours a day versus 12 to 16 hours normally. I’m able to work those hours early in the morning and late at night and still get to spend quality time with my family. – Dirk Gates, founder and CEO of Xirrus, provider of high-performance wireless networks.
If you don’t have to work on vacation, don’t. Sure, you might need to check your email or voicemail—but you need a break! And the people you are on vacation with need you to be there with them.
The week vacation I had in Spain this year was absolutely magical. I had no cell phone to answer (I don’t have an international plan) and I had no Internet access in my room. We had to go down to the hotel lobby to use the Internet, which meant we did not get online very often. And when we did it was to send a quick email letting our families at home know we were OK and having fun.
I think it is so important to be able to tune out—even for a few days—to recharge your batteries. I returned to work refreshed and ready to go after my vacation—and I really needed that! Even a long weekend away from all things work can do wonders.
Don’t Drop Your Favorite Pastime
It’s important to have a hobby or interest you can be passionate about. For me, it is drumming and cooking. When things heat up in the boardroom, I head to the kitchen or my drum set to keep myself focused and the momentum flowing. – Kevin Brown, CEO of Coraid, a company that creates Ethernet storage networking solutions.
Don’t ditch your indoor soccer team because you are too busy. You need to be able to step away from work and do something completely different. Especially if what you love to do is something active, keep it in your schedule. Not only will it relieve stress, it will boost your metabolism and help you sleep better at night.
Untangle Yourself From Other Responsibilities
This is not the time to coach Little League. Hopefully that will come later in life but it can’t happen right now. – Kirk Simpson, cofounder and CEO of Wave Accounting.
If volunteering on a board is eating into your family time or taking you away from other things you sincerely enjoy doing—drop out for a while. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Living a life that is too scheduled doesn’t leave room for spontaneity.