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One of the reasons people choose to become a contractor is to have a better work-life balance. Not being tied to regular office hours and being your own boss means you can choose exactly how you juggle your work and your life to make yourself happy. However, the reality for many contractors is that they find themselves working more, with longer, more unsociable hours and less rigid distinctions between work life and home life than previously.

This is usually down to the desire to succeed in self-employment and can mean that you often end up working late into the night or answering emails during dinner as you work on one project while seeking out the next. Without a strong contractor work-life balance, though, you will struggle to enjoy your work and will fail to get the downtime we all so desperately need. So how to do it?

Brookson’s Top Tips for a great work-life balance as a contractor

Switch off the email alerts

work life balance as a contractor email alert contractorAlmost all of us have email on our phones these days but this can often create a degree of anxiety where we feel we have to deal with them as soon as they, quite literally, go “ping” into our inbox. The easiest way to stop this train of thought is to turn off the email alerts on your mobile. This way, your phone won’t be constantly letting you know you have new messages to be dealt with. If your role requires that you do check in on your emails outside office hours, set times that you will do this and stick to them. For example, check emails at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm for no longer than 10 minutes at a time.

Learn to say “not right now”

You will almost certainly come across clients who keep asking you to do one last thing or one little extra. They think it won’t matter that you work an extra few hours since you’ll be able to charge for them anyway — so what do you care? This is where you need to learn to say “not right now.” You’re not saying you can’t do it or won’t do it, you’re just saying that you need to finish for the day now so you’ll do it tomorrow instead. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself pulling long stints in the office while everyone around you goes home.

Keep contractor work and home separate

work life balance as a contractor at homeAs a contractor, you will tend to work from offices more than from home but you will be likely to do admin-type work from a home office. If this is a room in your house, leave it at, say, 5pm and don’t go back in there until the next morning. If your home office is your laptop on your knee while sitting on the sofa, put your laptop away and out of sight once you’ve finished. This helps keep a distinction between work time and “you” time and a good way to define what it means to have a work-life balance.

Balance your time

Depending on your industry, your contracts may involve lots of long hours or working away from home and you may have little choice over this. You can try to balance this by organising yourself in such a way that, when you finish the contract, you have a couple of weeks off to spend with your family and friends before starting the next one.

There are lots of ways to ensure a strong work-life balance, the above is just a few. Share your tips in the comments or join in the discussion on Twitter or LinkedIn pages.

This article was brought to you alongside our Insurance Partners, Kingsbridge. Whether you’re an established contractor or just starting out, if you need to discuss your insurance needs, contact the friendly team at Kingsbridge on 01242 808740 or check out their website.

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