It’s important to create a good work-life balance when you’re working as an engineering freelancer, as it is with any profession. But when your working life has been shaped around you maintaining your hours, your schedule and doing what’s best for you, it’s important that you keep in mind that your work-life balance needs to be maintained.
Here are four tips to help you ensure this happens.
Set aside time for running your business… while you’re working
You are your own business. You are your key asset, sole employee and the personification of your workforce. You need to make time within your work day – the time needed seek out future opportunities, to maintain relationships with your clients (if you have them), manage your finances, keep an active profile on social media and/or your professional website, and anything else you need to do to keep your ‘brand’ running well. Any time you spend doing these things outside of your working hours is your relaxation and leisure time wasted.
Remember, it’s not about how many hours of work you can squeeze into a day, but how much work you can effectively squeeze into your working day!
Set a schedule and ensure its flexible
Flexibility is part of the appeal of freelancing as an engineer, meaning that if you don’t want to, you don’t have to work a standard 9-to-5 workday. If you get your best work done before breakfast, do that. If you want to be done by the mid-afternoon, great. Structure can help set boundaries, but flexibility is key for maintaining work-life balance. Allow yourself the flexibility to take a day off if you aren’t feeling well, or to rework your schedule when needed.
Don’t let your reach exceed your grasp
As a contract engineer, there’ll be a temptation to strike while the iron’s hot and take on as many opportunities as you can, because you never know when the market’s going to dry up. Problem is, you run the risk of overcommitting yourself, which if left unchecked can lead to you having burnt the candle at both ends and allowing your work to suffer as a result. Knowing what your capacity is, what your limits are and knowing how to say ‘No’ will be good for you in the short and long term. It’s always better to do one thing well than to do multiple things poorly
Designate a formal working space
A lot of people have been thrust into the new and potentially uncomfortable space of working from home. Allowing yourself to be distracted by the things around the house is one thing, but if you designate a specific area in your home to ‘work only’, then there’s a better than average chance you’ll be able to adjust to your new environment quickly and find yourself in a professional, productive space. “It is nice to be able to turn the PC off or slam the laptop shut, then close the door at the end of a working day, so not only you know you have finished, but your family and friends know you have finished too. Also, there’s a whole bunch of tax deductions available for people who set up home offices.