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January 23, 2018 By Jen Mathews

Why Work-Life Balance Is Important and How to Achieve It

January 23, 2018

By Jen Mathews

Read More from Jen Mathews

January 23, 2018

Why Work-Life Balance Is Important and How to Achieve It

By Jen Mathews
Senior Public Relations Manager

Employers know that a good work-life balance improves employee retention and productivity. To be competitive, they get creative about benefits.(Doggie day care, anyone?) And a flexible work place, in particular, is a hot commodity. In fact a Gallup pollfound that half of employees wouldn’t hesitate to look for greener pastures if those pastures came with flexible hours.

A survey of 3,000 human resource professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management found that flextime and telecommuting are two of the top three work-life benefits offered. Great perks for employees, indeed — but for freelancers and solopreneurs, these “perks” can be permission to burn the candle at both ends.

If you’re self-employed, you know how easy it is to blur the line between work and life, especially when the two happen under the same roof. And taking your work on the roadmeans… well, good luck with that “downtime.” So, with no boss or HR department to “require” you to take some comp time, it can feel like you are working 24/7.

Let’s tip the scale a bit — after all, new year, new goals, right? Here are some things you can do to achieve better work-life balance.

1. Set physical boundaries

Setting boundaries in general is smart (even if every day is “bring your dog to work day”). But the secret is in a physical separation, and you don’t need an actual office for that.

  • Create a “commute.” Yes, that means you shouldn’t work in your bedroom. Don’t overthink it: A two-second commute to your guest bed-room-turned-office will do.
  • If your “office” is at the kitchen table, you need some sort of physical disconnect that prompts your brain to clock out. Get a rollaway filing cart so you can tuck your files away during dinner.

2. Take time off

The freedom to work any time can quickly become a trap. Just like an employer would give you comp time for working on a weekend, you need to compensate for all that hard work, with some time off.

Does the mere thought of that make you twitch? Remind yourself why you wanted to work for yourself in the first place. I bet more time for family, friends or to pursue your passions was high on the list. Take advantage of a slower time of the year by taking a much deserved break. Even half a day will do wonders to recharge and refresh.

3. Outsource nonessential or noncritical work

A robust gig economy means your business is booming. So take a page from your clients: They outsource gigs to you so they can be more productive and focus on their core business.

As a solopreneur, you’ve had to learn to do everything yourself, from accounting to web design. But deep down you know that while you love the business, the creative side is not really your thing. Besides, you’re not really saving money when you spend hours learning a new skill and then take three times longer than a professional to execute the project.

Outsourcing will not only free you up but also allow you to take advantage of other people’s expertise.

4. Create forced “stop times”

If you don’t trust yourself to break old habits, schedule after-hours commitments that’ll force you to skedaddle from the “office”.

Plan a trip to the gym or a fun outing with your kids. Schedule things you don’t want to miss out on to avoid working late in to the night.

5. Think like a digital nomad

Travel the world, escape the 9-5. That’s the life! Who doesn’t dream of being a digital nomad? There’s one thing digital nomads can teach us all: They believe in playing hard after (or in between) working hard.

So if a working vacation is all you can manage, just do it. Why else do we have tools like video conferencing?

Lucky for you, as the “HR manager,” you’re the one who gets to choose the perks that best fit your life and your work. So what’s your excuse?

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