When I tell people I’m a freelancer, they usually imagine I’m either a digital nomad or a hermit. Most times, I’m on the latter end of the spectrum, because maintaining a healthy social life can be difficult when you don’t have a regular schedule.
The problem is, for a lot of people, the office is the place where they do most of their socializing. If you work remotely, that means you need to make an active effort to seek out other people and spend time with them.
Spending time with friends and meeting new people shouldn’t be a chore. However, it can be hard to balance that effort with a freelance writer’s workload. Let’s talk about how you can avoid that hermit lifestyle!
Why Freelancers Often Have a Poor Work/Life Balance
If you want to be a successful freelance writer, you’re going to need to do a lot more than just type away. Here’s a quick list of all the tasks I’ve had to get used to:
- Finding new clients
- Keeping existing clients happy
- Making sure I reply to communications promptly
- Discussing rates periodically
- Submitting invoices and chasing after late payments
- Making sure I keep track of taxes
- Keeping my portfolio up to date
- Networking with other freelancers
- Trying not to go insane dealing with all of the above
Basically, if you want to be a successful freelance writer, you need to treat it as a business instead of a hobby. If you’ve ever met someone who is working on getting a business off the ground, you’ll know they don’t have a lot of free time.
Combine all that work with an erratic schedule and you have a perfect recipe for falling out of touch with your friends. If you want to avoid that, you need to make a concerted effort to manage your social life.
Plus, being social can help you avoid burning out, which is never a good look for a freelancer.
3 Tips to Manage Your Social Life as a Freelance Writer
If you don’t want friends to forget what your face looks like, then you need to make time to turn off the computer and go hang out with people every once in a while. Here’s how I do it:
1. Commit to a Basic Work Schedule
One of the things that attracts most people to freelancing is having full control over their schedules. Do you want to start working at noon? Go for it. You don’t feel like doing anything until 5 PM? Nobody’s gonna chide you for it.
Here’s the problem – most people do have a regular schedule. That means they’re free to go out after work and if you keep irregular hours, then you’re going to miss out on a lot of social engagements.
It took me years to conquer the idea of committing back to a simple schedule. These days, I try to start work at 10 AM by the latest and wrap things up anywhere between 3-5 PM. It’s still a much better schedule than most of my friends get, and it means my evenings are free, so I can go out without worrying.
You don’t need to commit to a rigid schedule as a freelance writer. However, you do need to set some boundaries and try to adjust to your friend’s hours if you want to spend time with them. There’s no way around that fact.
2. Schedule Time Off to Spend With Your Friends and Relax
The idea of scheduling time to spend with your friends might turn off a lot of people. After all, you shouldn’t need to look up your calendar every time you want to see people.
Let’s be honest, though – once we enter the workforce, most of us are really busy all the time. You have to balance work, friends, relationships, hobbies, and whatever else you might be into.
I like to take scheduling time off to the extreme. Usually, by the time Tuesday rolls around, I can tell you exactly what I’m going to be doing every night of the week. It’s not a matter of obsessive personality either – it’s just I know that if I don’t commit to seeing my friends, I’m prone to spending all that time off in front of the computer.
That’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world, though. Nurturing your social life is important if you spend a lot of time working on your own, but so is getting time off just by yourself. That means no opening your email every five minutes, no checking up on projects, and if you’re stronger than I am, no computers for a few hours.
3. Take Time Off Every Once in a While
Here’s a terrifying thing you notice once you’ve been freelancing for a while: most of us take fewer vacations than regular office workers.
I personally went at least three years without taking more time off than maybe a long weekend here and there. I was so busy trying to establish myself as a freelancer, it didn’t even register I wasn’t taking time off.
That doesn’t include any time I spent working on the road either. Digital nomading may be fun, but if you’re spending part of your day working, then you’re not on a real vacation.
A real vacation for me is at least a week where I don’t worry about emails or projects. That’s easy enough if you have vacation days during the year, but not so much when you’re running your own business.
The great thing is, as a freelance writer, you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to vacations. If you don’t have any projects on your docket, then boom, that’s a vacation right there (as long as you’re not broke).
If your docket is full, then it boils down to picking a date, making sure you finish all your deliverables before that and telling clients you’ll be out of the ‘office’ for a few days. As long as you don’t miss any deadlines, nothing is really stopping you from taking a week off, traveling, and meeting new people!
You can’t spend day after day working on your own and expect it not to take a toll. As a freelance writer, you’re basically running your own business, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing so much on work that you stop making time to hang out with friends.
Scheduling time with friends might sound too mechanical. However, it’s an approach that ensures you make time to socialize instead of putting it off for too long. If you’ve been feeling a bit burned out lately, it might just be because you need to spend more time with friends and less in front of the computer.
Do you have any questions about how to maintain a healthy work/life balance as a freelance writer? Let’s go over them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.