The Lady or the Tiger!? Balancing Work and Life in the Freelance Economy | DCR Workforce Blog

The Lady or the Tiger!? Balancing Work and Life in the Freelance Economy

The story alluded to in the title, tells us of a princess who chooses a commoner for her consort and her disapproving father lets chance decide the outcome. He makes the man choose between two doors – one behind which he finds the lady and gets to marry her; or the other where he finds the tiger and gets eaten up! His dilemma translates very well to our current struggles to achieve work-life balance in the freelance economy – and choose between work and our significant others. Fortunately, it is not a pure game of luck as in the case of the princess’ suitor. We actually have a choice we can exercise, provided we put a strategy in place.

According to the Staffing Industry Analysts’ report, 29% of all workers or 44 million people worked at freelance gigs worth 792 billion in 2015. Such ambitious and entrepreneurial freelancers tend to be consumed by work, and entrepreneurial zeal. When trying to establish yourself in your chosen profession, you may end up choosing the tiger out of your own volition and working so extra-ordinarily hard that life means being devoured by work and to have no opportunities to play. Switch to freelance work, and all dreams of the much hyped flexibility and work-life balance get replaced by worries; about finding more clients, achieving better revenues and building security and stability for your work.

Balancing Work and Life:

There are some strategies you can put in place as a freelance to achieve the desired levels of work-life balance.

  • Team up with others and delegate where possible – either to help manage your workload or to find more opportunities to work. Having a supportive network is a great way to ease the stress of working as a freelancer who ends up doing every little chore that must get done. In other words, be efficient and productive without being tied to the millstone at all hours.
  • There is no denying that clients are your raison d’etre; and they needs, wishes and demands have the first claim to your attention. However, that doesn’t mean that they completely own you. If your work day is going haywire because of a disorganized client who cares little for your commitments and struggles; do not hesitate to let them know that they need to play or they could pay, by getting a shove out the door.
  • Figure out how many hours you will need to finish your set of professional tasks, so you can spend the rest of the time on personal activities. It pays to figure out the right kind of environment and time needed for you to achieve this, and plan your day to set and follow a strict schedule, especially when you are working remotely from home or a shared workspace. Do not allow disruptions which encroach into your work time or play time.
  • Prioritize your goals, manage your calendar and be organized. Never take on more work than you can execute, if you wish to balance work and life. When you take unreasonably large assignments, it is inevitable that you lose control over your time. This would affect your work-life balance negatively, leave you no time for rest and relaxation and affect the quality of your work.
  • Refuse to be wired 24x7x365 and set hours when you disconnect from the internet as it is not possible to disconnect from work when emails, Skype messages, Facebook updates and WhatsApp messages keep pinging and distracting your attention from other important things in life and rendering you an insomniac. Provide your clients a specific window of time during which you would be available to take calls and answer any questions, as needed. Encourage them to email you, but know not to expect a response, at all odd hours of the day. If your services include managing emergency situations, you could set up separate communication protocol, which includes an emergency situation.
  • In case you like, or were conditioned by an abusive boss early in life, to work all the hours ‘God gave you’, it may be the right time to unlearn habits like working on weekends, avoiding vacations, refusing to take time off to care for sick family members or self, or get most work done after hours only. Learn to discern between a real emergency which requires you to sacrifice personal concerns and desultory workaholism which makes you lose work-life balance.

Whatever may be your vocation in life, you can be sincere to the needs of your family as much as you are to your personal venture and contribute equally to both of them so as to achieve work-life balance. That would help you reap the real benefits of being a freelancer.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.