If you’ve opted out of the traditional law path and gone out on your own as an independent lawyer or legal consultant, no doubt you’ve discovered you’re now the master of your own schedule.
You’re fitting in that morning bike ride or workout, you’re back in time for school drop-off and, all the while you are handling clients, hitting deadlines and using your toolbox to maximise productivity.
Flexible hours and the ability to achieve a healthy work/life balance are probably what attracted you to freelancing in the first place. But there are also strains and stresses to freelancing that can negatively affect your work/life balance. With more than 40% of professionals predicted to be freelancing by 2025, it’s important we get this right now.
For example, if you work from home and aren’t subject to the 9-5 norm, working overtime can become habit, one that sees you juggling client demands way in to the night. And you no longer have the option of taking work home with you; it’s already there.
But there are ways to keep the scales in balance, and in your favour. Here are our top tips to keep you thriving:
1. Set expectations (clients’ and yours!):
Be clear from the beginning around your availability and commitment to a project or contract. This will set the tone up-front and enable you to control the workload. We recommend agreeing on how often you will meet face-to-face (if it all) and when you’ll update, thus avoiding spontaneous calls at any time of the day. Also, always ensure your clients are aware of exactly what they will be paying for before the work begins.
2. Draw a line between work and play:
While it’s unavoidable to have some of your professional life flow into your personal life, freelancers run the risk of overlapping work and play on a regular basis. So make sure you have your home office or dedicated work space sorted, set aside time for yourself in your daily schedule and turn off unnecessary notifications during time with family or friends. And if you’ve done step 1 well enough, you shouldn’t need to worry about receiving too many calls from clients during leisure time.
3. Maintain routine where possible:
The dreaded 9-5 is gone but it’s still important to maintain a sense of routine. Whether you settle in at the desk the same time every day or you get all of your administrative tasks out of the way over your first coffee on a Tuesday, get into some habits. Routine will help you feel more in control of your work and your time.
4. Choose the work you want, when and where you want it:
To us, this is the biggest perk of them all: having the luxury of pitching for the work you want, when and where you want it. That’s right, you get to decide what your weekly schedule looks like and the type of work that do (and the price you accept!). No longer do you need to trudge through projects and work that you don’t enjoy. And whether its 20, 40 or even 60 hours a week, you decide when your dance card is full.
5. Enjoy it:
Lastly, next time you’re heading out for a surf at Bondi in the middle of the day on a Tuesday, remind yourself why you took the independent path in the first place.