Making the decision to work as a freelance health writer may come naturally for some of you.
You may find freelancing can offer you the chance to achieve more diversity of work, allowing you to take control of the writing projects that land on your desk.
There are also those of us who choose to freelance due to personal circumstances – often (though not always) for the flexible hours surrounding having or starting a family.
However, if you aren’t prepared to work at home in both roles, it can feel like a juggling act.
Without trying to keep all your balls in the air, finding a way to balance your time at home is essential.
Here are few tips to help you manage your freelancing health writing career and your parenting obligations.
Signs you’re not finding a healthy balance
Finding a healthy work-life balance when freelance writing from home means not blurring the lines between your personal and professional lives.
Learning to be more organised during your working hours and having a clear understanding of your personal and professional goals are essential for stability.
Usually, it’s when mistakes happen when you may notice you’re not managing your time effectively.
Before waiting for problems to arise, there are usually some clear warning signs to indicate you’re not succeeding in achieving a balance.
These can include:
- Sacrificing personal time with family for work, such as family outings or holidays
- Resenting or regretting your decision to work from home
- Feeling like you don’t have enough hours in the day for work or family
- Not meeting deadlines
- Submitting work with errors
- Relying excessively on childcare or babysitters – even more so than when you were employed
If you have noticed any of these signs as a freelance health writer, it could be time to re-assess and make some changes to your working day.
Key considerations to help separate work and home
Set strict hours for work
The key to staying organised at home is to delineate your working hours from time with your family.
It’s very easy to feel like your always working when you’re office is at home, so it’s critical you have clear working hours.
Set aside times in the day aside for work only, and when you stop working, it means turning off your computer and re-focusing your attention.
By maintaining a strict schedule for work, you can stop multitasking and eliminate distractions making you feel more productive during your working hours.
Find your best time of day
It’s important to determine the time of day you are most productive.
You may be a morning person who likes to finish your work before lunchtime and have the rest of the day free.
Or perhaps you function better on weekends when you can spread your hours over the day.
It’s up to you to decide what works best for you and your family.
There has been a lot of research conducted into our internal circadian rhythm that determines our energy and alertness changes throughout the day.
Although changes in energy and alertness vary for each person, most people usually have a dip in energy that begins to decline around 3 pm.
Understanding your circadian rhythm can help you set your working hours when you’re most alert.
Working freelance from home also gives you the flexibility to keep unstructured business hours.
If you find you have more hours to work on the weekend – then Saturday or Sunday could be your working days.
Keep in mind; if you choose to work out of business hours, you may need to have flexibility during the week for meetings with clients.
Keep your schedule
Once you have decided your working hours, it’s important to stick to it.
To keep to your schedule, you may need to have a babysitter or trusted family friend on standby if your children become sick. Or, perhaps you’ll find you need to organise regular childcare.
Keeping to a schedule doesn’t mean you should be inflexible when emergencies occur.
However, during a typical day try not to deviate too far from your working hours by scheduling too many family activities or appointments.
If you’re finding it hard to keep a separate home office, there are many small spaces available for rent.
Hoffice, for example, allows freelancers to register and work from a host’s home for a small fee and offers quiet space to work distraction free.
Booking a shared office space is a great solution – especially if you’re working to a tight deadline.
Enjoy the perks!
Let’s be honest – working from home has its advantages, too.
You can fit in household chores on your breaks (not necessarily a perk, but it can be helpful at times), avoid the commute to an office and even pick up your kids from school every day.
Whatever your reasons for choosing a freelance career to it can help to remember why working from home helps you spend more time with your children.
And, if you’re like most freelancers who have spent years working at home, you may find it difficult to return to an office-based health writing role after spending a few years freelancing.
Have you struck a healthy balance for working at home as a parent? Please feel free to share your tips in the comments below!