Contractors tend to have a better work-life balance, as they’re generally not tied to regular office hours. Despite better control of their time and flexibility with their schedule, or perhaps because of this, they tend to neglect their own personal time, and end up working even more.
The desire to be more productive and earn more is intrinsic in self-employed individuals eager to succeed. However, this usually means they work extra hours, often into the night, and still tend to business concerns during breaks and meals, or when spending time with family. Enjoying the fruits of your hard work then becomes a struggle as your downtime shrinks and becomes sporadic.
Here are ways you can improve work-life balance as a contractor:
1. Separate work and home time
If you have a separate room for your work at home or an office space, it is much better to leave all work related items there when you’re done. Don’t bring your work laptop in the living room while you lounge in front of the TV.
Keep a schedule for yourself – set clear boundaries of when work hours end and home or “you” time begins. Establishing this kind of discipline might be difficult in the beginning, but you’ll find that it gets easier with time, and that your productivity will actually improve as you ensure that the things you need to take care of at work are done by the time you leave.
2. Switch off your email alerts
Smartphones are a must these days for go-getters and fast-paced movers. Staying in contact with clients via phone and email is a necessity, but it also creates a degree of anxiety during non-work hours. Moreover, once you get a notification, you’ll often feel the need to deal with it then and there.
Make a habit of turning off your email alerts when you’re done with work for the day. If necessary outside work hours, only check your emails at a scheduled time. Do not be a slave to your phone or handheld device. Remember: you control your phone; your phone does not control you.
3. Know when to say “Not right now”
It is really hard to say no to clients asking you to do one more thing before you leave for the day, but learn to prioritise. Instead of a blunt no, you could change it to “not right now.” Otherwise, you’ll find yourself spending too much time into work when you should be resting.
A client calling you after hours and not really caring about your personal time could be a hassle. Further, you might not be at your 100% and so end up with substandard results. It is best to put it off until the next day and regroup.
4. Organise your day, your week, your month
Sticking to your schedule is essential if you want to maximise the hours you have every day. While flexibility is one of the benefits of being an independent contractor, and indeed you should leave room for it in your planner, keep in mind that your time can flex both ways. You might end up just working too much.
If you provide your services to multiple clients, make sure to leave ample time for yourself and your family. One way of doing so is setting aside rest days or weekends for personal use and totally avoiding any work during those days.
Work-life balance is considered one of the main reasons why many people eschew traditional employment and become independent contractors. However, care must still be taken in order to make it a reality, especially when you’re driven and motivated to accomplish more.
If necessary, seek help in areas where you need it so you can have more time for yourself. Unlike employees, independent contractors are responsible for meeting their obligations regarding taxes, insurances, Superannuation and the like, which will take up time better spent elsewhere. Being able to rely on someone that does these for you, like how we at Certica help our customers, can be a valuable time-saver.