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Getting into the flow of working as a freelancer or contractor is great but often it can become easy to neglect a work-life balance. Learning to manage the boundaries between work and personal life is important to both business success and personal lives, including health and family.
More workers are leaving their 9-5 job and starting a small business of their own or becoming independent contractors and hiring themselves out to embark on new ventures enabling a better work-life balance. With more people doing this and with self-employment on the rise, there is much more competition which can put pressure on the individual trying to make it on their own. This can be where working long hours and cutting family time short can become normal practice, resulting in stress levels rising and other negative knock-on effects.
With this in mind, it is vital that in this environment, we learn to manage a good work-life balance.
Here are 5 tips to creating a great work-life balance as a contractor or sole trader:
Know the difference between personal and professionalWhen you are contracting and going from gig to gig, working odd hours and working from a number of sites or even from home, it’s easy to cross the line between personal and professional. As contracts roll into one, switching between projects and working beyond the 9-5 barriers, it can be easy to roll your professional time into your personal time. After a while this becomes normal and the loss of precious personal time will occur. It can have an impact on family life, friends and relationships, not to mention health issues along with the quality of work. Learn to set barriers and time frames so that you have a good balance between your time.
Get organisedThis goes without saying if you are working for yourself, but many people still struggle with managing their time well. A calendar is the all-important essential tool that needs to be kept up to date at all times and should incorporate both personal and work schedules so that both can clearly be seen when scheduling appointments or managing personal time. This will help to avoid double bookings or cross-over deadlines, help set priorities and enable future planning.
Work with other professionalsJust because you work on your own doesn’t necessarily mean that you are on your own. With the rise of self-employed contractors, there are many people that are in similar situations and welcome the opportunity to share with others. Some may see this as competition but it can be used as a chance to network and to build professional relationships which leads the way to other job opportunities in the future. Networking with other professionals also provides a source of delegation if workloads become high or a helping hand is required in certain contracts. It takes out the time taken to find subcontractors and enables you to work with people where a trust has already been built upon.
Take time for yourselfIt can be easy to work, work, work but what good does that do in the long term? Everyone needs some time-out and a chance to unwind from the world. By disconnecting yourself from the digital world, you will have a time to regain thoughts, have quality time doing what you want to do and give yourself a chance to de-stress and wind down. Having the internet available 24/7, a mobile phone in one hand and a laptop in another, we don’t give opportunity to be able to switch off. Learning to switch the world off and take time for ourselves or families is an important part of a work-life balance. Showing others that you are able to take time out when you need to and proving the reason for becoming self-employed in the first place.
Work with an umbrella companyAs a sole trader, freelancer or contractor, it can become difficult to manage everything that you need to and still keep on top of all the tasks that are involved in running a business. That’s where an umbrella company comes in and relieves some of the pressure from you. Not worrying about the employment side of working, you can be assured that you’ll be paid on time from your contractors, all from the same place with Tax and National Insurance taken care of for you by the umbrella company. Many contractors stress about the practical side of their business and with this approach, it’s not necessary. By using an umbrella company a person can free up time and use it for better use.
There are many factors that can be taken into account to appreciate a good work-life balance but learning to manage your time well and differentiate between work and home life will start you off in the right direction. If you’d like to discuss how an umbrella company can benefit your business, feel free to get in touch and discuss your options.