Is working from home becoming more and more of a reality for you?
I freelance write and it’s the ultimate dream job for me, but it is still a job – and with it comes the same stress of balancing work, life and self care.
Honestly, in a lot of ways, it’s really no different than having a “real” job (except that you technically can work in your pajamas if you choose to!).
When my twins are at home it’s a whole other ball game to balance motherhood and being a business woman.
Don’t feel because you work from home you are not entitled to take care of yourself. Even though you may be at home with the flexibility to choose your own hours, you are still faced with balancing work with life.
This is something I had to learn as a mom to twins who works from home. For awhile, I neglected taking care of myself and learned the hard way that doing this didn’t grow my business.
I’m still learning to take time for myself and give myself grace when I can’t accomplish everything on my plate.
In the middle somewhere you need to take care of yourself. But finding the time to do so can be a challenge.
As a freelance writer, there are ways to manage your time and practice self care.
More and more of people are choosing (or required) to work from home remotely and to prepare you for this transition, I want you to know that you need to practice self care.
What is Self Care?
Self care means engaging in activities that decrease your stress and promote your overall well-being.
What self care means to me can be completely different than what it means to you. These practices vary from person to person and depends on your own needs.
For example, some people need to decompress in a quiet environment with no distractions while others may require rigorous activity such as running or working out.
Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out exactly what your self care needs are. You may be so focused on your freelance work that you’re not even sure how to take care of yourself.
Personally, I need quite and to be on my own as a way to fill my creativity and feel refreshed.
Why Do Freelance Writers Need Self Care?
First of all, everyone needs self care. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Everyone is constantly at risk of burning out if they don’t slow down and take care of themselves.
Second of all, as a freelance writer, your writing brain needs a break. The more you push yourself to produce written content without taking a break, the harder it becomes and the quality of your work will suffer for it.
You will suffer as well. When you’re a freelance writer and working from home, you still need to balance work life with domestic life. If you don’t take time for yourself, you’ll become exhausted.
And then the quality of your work will decline.
When I’m stressed out at home or with a client, it affects my writing big time. I lose creativity and suddenly have writer’s block.
You can see that not taking care of yourself as a freelance writer can cause a vicious cycle that can adversely affect your productivity as well as your mental health.
Time Management Is Essential When You Work From Home
Of course, telling you to take care of yourself is easier said than done. As a freelance writer, it probably doesn’t seem like there is enough hours in the day to spend on self care.
However, self care is required for a healthy mind for writing.
The time is there to take care of yourself, you just have to know how to find it. You can do this by using time management techniques to schedule your day.
1. Follow a Morning Routine
How you start your morning will set the tone for the entire day. You don’t need to wake up at the crack of dawn to have a productive day but you should be making the most out of your morning routine.
When you start your day off on the right foot, you create a sense of optimism toward what needs to be done – instead of dragging yourself out of bed and dreading the tasks ahead.
What this looks like varies from person to person. Some may need to wake up early and enjoy a cup of coffee in solitude in order to get into the proper mind-space.
Others may require sleeping in and motoring through getting everyone up and dressed and out the door to create momentum for the day.
Personally for me, I take a morning shower (after I feed the twins some breakfast) and when I’m dressed I grab my morning cup of coffee and get to work.
This has changed over the years. When my twins were toddlers, my workday didn’t start until mid afternoon, so my morning routine was focussed on my twin toddlers.
However you choose to approach your mornings, you’ll find that doing so in a way that increases your focus and productivity will make finding time for self care easier and less intrusive on your schedule.
Plus, if you are an early bird, you can practice some self care activities in the morning before you get to work.
2. Set Your Working Hours
Being a freelance writer and working from home seems like a dream – you have the freedom to set your own schedule. The only hard and fast rule is having your assignments completed on time.
Some problems can happen when you take too many liberties with this situation and fail to establish working hours. Instead, you write all willy-nilly throughout the day whenever you happen to find the time.
This was hard for me when my twins were younger. All I HAD were those fringe times to write. Twenty minutes here or ten minutes there. I found during those times, the most stressful to write!
In order to find the time to take care of yourself, you need to set your working hours. Just as you would at a job outside your home, you need to establish when you begin work and when you end.
I like to use my Productivity Planner for Freelance Writers to keep track of my objectives, schedule and pitching process.
When you establish these boundaries for yourself as a freelance writer, you make it easier to organize the rest of your life (taking care of kids, housework, groceries, cooking, etc.) in a way that allows you to focus on self care.
And if you’re a mom, these hours don’t even necessarily have to coincide with your child’s school hours.
You can choose to give yourself an hour of me-time as soon as the little ones are off to school. That hour can be made up later by having your kids entertain themselves while you finish your work.
This is how the flexibility of freelance writing can work in your favor – you can set your working hours at any point throughout the day.
Just be sure to stick to them. Consistency is key to finding time to take care of yourself.
3. Eat the Frog
This is, of course, not meant literally. It’s based on a quote by Mark Twain that explains how, if you are expected to eat a frog at some point during the day, you should do so immediately to get it over with.
In terms of time management, the frog is that one unpleasant task that must be done during the day that you may be tempted to ignore or put off.
When you get that task out of the way, you clear the dread and anticipation from your mind.
When you do this, you’re better able to focus on the rest of your tasks, increase your productivity and get your work done effectively.
This is important for self care because, after you set your work hours, you want to make sure you can complete your writing tasks in that time.
When you don’t, you may be tempted to squeeze in extra work time when you could be focusing on yourself or your family.
The frog could be that one article you have no interest in writing or the cold pitches you promised yourself you would do to gain more clients.
Whatever it is, getting it done right away is like a huge sigh of relief – and the rest of the day will seem like a breeze.
4. Avoid Time Wasters
Time-wasters are those little rabbit holes you find yourself falling down while trying to get your work done – such as perusing Pinterest or checking your Facebook feed.
During work hours they certainly do nothing to help your productivity.
While I’m not saying you are never allowed to play on social media or watch YouTube videos, you do need to be sure they are not being done in place of your priorities.
Remember, the more time you spend working, the less time you have for yourself.
However, for some, these distractions are a source of self care. There is nothing wrong with watching videos or reading blogs that interest you while relaxing on the couch or in the tub.
This is what I do because I feel I’m still learning or growing my business and it’s a break from writing.
If that’s what nourishes you (which I’ll talk about in the next section), then by all means indulge.
Self Care Tips
Once you find time to focus on yourself and your needs, here are some tips that can help you actually implement self care and prioritize your well being:
5. The 6 Categories of Self Care
Sometimes just figuring out what part of you needs self care can be a challenge. You may feel “off” but unable to specify exactly what is wrong.
Knowing what your needs are is important in deciding how to take care of them. For example, you may be struggling with the isolation of working from home all day, so you seek comfort in your social circle.
However, if you are dealing with the overwhelm of responding to emails, attending video calls and working through misunderstandings with clients, you may need a more quiet and solitary activity to unwind.
In order to pinpoint your self care needs, think of yourself in terms of 6 categories:
- Taking care of your body, inside and out.
- Recognizing and expressing your emotions.
- Knowing your passions and inspirations.
- Challenging your mind and fostering creativity.
- Connecting with others and feeling a sense of belonging.
- Being aware of your senses and body to reduce overwhelm.
The more you keep these categories in mind when you are taking care of yourself, the better you become at recognizing where your care should be focused.
6. Find What Nourishes You
The phrase “self care” often creates this picture of lighting candles, having a warm bath and meditating while sitting cross-legged on the floor.
While this certainly does work for many people, it doesn’t work for everyone. Self care is a personal exercise in nourishing your individual and unique needs.
You need to figure out what works for you to create a sense of calm and an atmosphere of positivity. These are the activities you want to make time for.
Because freelance writing requires your brain to be turned on all day, your self care may include watching your favorite comedy on Netflix. Or it could involve going for a walk to clear your head.
For me, listening to music is a huge motivator for self-care. It’s my way to disconnect, relax and still feel that I’m creative.
Don’t worry about partaking in activities that everyone else is doing. Spend your time doing things that work for you.
7. Do Something For Yourself Every Day
As I mentioned above, self care doesn’t have to a fit a mold or follow a specific structure. It also doesn’t have to be a grandiose affair that involves huge chunks of time (or money).
You can easily do something to take care of yourself every day, even if you feel like you don’t have the time.
Try this right now: Sit up straight. Take a deep breath through your nose and let the air fill your stomach. Breath out through your nose, letting the air out completely. Repeat two or three more times.
You just did a deep breathing exercise. This technique is calming and restorative and you did it in just a manner of minutes.
This is a great way to take a little break during your writing to calm yourself and refocus on your task.
This is just one example of how quickly and easily you can fit self care into your day.
Even a twenty minute walk around the block is a great way to get exercise, clear your mind and relax.
If you manage your time properly, and know what it is that nourishes you, fitting self care into your day becomes less of a challenge.
8. Create a Self Care Routine
In fact, the more you do it, the more it becomes part of your routine.
A routine is, by definition, the practice of regularly doing things. So creating a routine for self care ensures that you take care of yourself on a daily basis.
It all starts by figuring out what self care activities are important to you and establishing a time management technique that works for you.
Even if you can’t fit self care into your day-to-day schedule, you can create a morning or evening routine. Or, you can think of self care activities in terms of what you can do weekly or even monthly.
Many people, no matter where they work, tend to indulge in a bit of self care on Friday to celebrate the end of the work week. Some go out for drinks, some order takeout while others perhaps binge on their favorite show.
Since, as a freelance writer, you likely work from home all day, you may find getting out the house on Friday evenings the perfect way to relax and reset your brain.
However you can fit self care into your schedule, make sure to prioritize it so that it becomes part of your normal routine.
Taking Care of Yourself as a Freelance Writer
Even though you have the liberty to work from home and choose your hours, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to take care of yourself just like everyone else.
So take the time to focus on yourself and take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Freelance writers work hard and deserve a break!
Do you have any self care ideas you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!