The term ‘work-life balance’ is thrown around a lot, but it is even more important when you’re a self-employed contractor. It’s especially hard to separate your job and your personal life when your company is comprised solely of you. You have a lot more responsibility and investment in how your job goes, so it is understandable if you spend every waking moment thinking about contracting.

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However, this is not always the best option for either your work or your home life. If you do not take the time to relax and let your mind be at ease then you can end up feeling stressed, tired and even burnt-out. This can have the effect of making you resent the job you’ve worked so hard to build up.

One of the main benefits of being a contractor is that you have a lot more freedom over your flexibility and the hours that you work. In theory, this should make it much easier to properly balance your work and personal life, but many people struggle with this element of being self-employed.

So what is the solution? Here are some ways you can avoid spending too much of your time and energy on your job and gain control over your work-life balance.

Find a routine

Unrecognizable male business person winding up an expensive hand watchIf you weren’t self-employed, you would probably have a set time you were supposed to arrive at work and a set time you left. You’d have a lunch break, and if you needed to work late you might even get paid overtime. As a contractor, a lot of these aspects of your work life can go out of the window.

It is tempting to lie in when you’re your own boss, starting work when you feel like it, because you can always finish it off later. However, this can lead to a poor work-life balance. It is often better to have set ‘office hours’ that you stick to as much as possible.

Not only will this give your working day more structure, it will also better enable you to separate your job and your personal life. Ideally, you want to be at a stage where you can finish off all your work for the day in the late afternoon so you can have the evening for personal time. Without a solid routine, it can be easy to slip into working later and later.

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Separate your home and your office

iStock_000064844883_LargeMany contractors do a lot of their work at home. Even if you work in-house with most of your clients, you will still end up doing a large portion of your job at home when you are focusing on growing your business and finding more clients. This can be very beneficial, especially as you can claim back some of your household bills on your expenses.

Brookson can help you work out the financial benefits of working from home, however if you do then you should make an effort to have a set area just for your job. It might not seem like much, but if you work in the same place as you relax then it can be easy for the two elements of your life to seep into each other.

You don’t want to spend your entire work day thinking about relaxing, as it will be all too easy to get distracted. Equally, you don’t want to have your mind on work when you’re trying to relax. The solution here is to clearly separate these two areas.

This is why many self-employed people have home offices dedicated solely to work, as well as a space clearly for relaxation. This can be as simple as having a clear work desk, rather than doing your job on the sofa. Either way, it’s important to have that disconnect between your job and your home life.

Never give out your personal contact details

iStock_000059355766_LargeFinally, be especially careful about putting your personal email address or phone number on a business card. When your working day finishes, you should be able to have the ability to completely put your job out of your mind. This means turning your work phone off and logging out of your work email account.

It will be extremely difficult to keep your job separate from your personal life if you are constantly able to be contacted by clients. It will be much easier for you if you make sure your clients know you won’t answer emails, calls or texts after a certain time of day, and stick to this rule as much as possible.

Over the last 20 years, Brookson have helped over 90,000 contractors, freelancers and self-employed professionals, just like you to save time, money and hassle with our comprehensive range of accountancy, financial, legal, insurance and business services. Click here to find out more.

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