Our lives are busy and packed with appointments, deadlines and activities. Meeting all our daily demands and still finding time to relax is actually quite challenging to me. In the first few months of working as a freelancer I already noticed: A healthy work-life-balance is impossible without mindful self and time management. So, here are a few helpful tips and tools to stay organized in your business.
As freelancers our day-to-day life is not following any default structures or routines. The line between work and free time is blurry especially if we’re working from home. But yet there’s a lot we can do in order to stay organized and work productively while still maintaining our mental health.
Tools and tips for your mindful self and time management
1. Create Routines
Honestly, hearing the word “routine” you probably think about dreary everyday processes. But, that is only half the truth. Of course we don’t want to lose our freedom and independence, after all this is one of the perks of being a freelancer.
However, in order to reach a healthy work-life-balance routines are an essential part of a creative and successful workflow. They structure our day, boost our productivity and if we do it right they also provide time and space to relax. And, who said that routines have to be boring, anyway? Pleasant habits like a freshly brewed cup of coffee in the morning or the daily walk during lunch break are things we can actually look forward to.
All this freedom that comes with being my own boss can actually be quite overwhelming. The possibility to work whenever and wherever I want sometimes misleads me to constantly think about my business. Precise structures, such as defined office hours, definitely help me to stay organized.
Of course I frequently reflect my routines and adjust them when necessary. This way I still keep my flexibility and avoid unnecessary pressure.
2. Take breaks
Every daily routine needs conscious intermissions. In theory this might sound easy, but I know all too well how difficult it is to actually do this. Especially when we’re working at home, without mindful co-workers, reminding us it’s time for lunch, we alone are responsible to take our breaks regularly. But there’s no way to stay organized without pausing and recharging every once in a while.
It’s way easier to face deadlines, important meetings or any other business tasks with a fresh and recharged mind. So, mindfully taking regular breaks will not cost you too much time, it is a vital part of working productively. I can’t even remember how many times I tried to fix a problem for hours without ever taking a break, not even coming close to solving it. The other day however, looking at it from a new perspective, I just worked through in such a short time.
Even though I know how important it is to take breaks regularly, allowing myself to actually taking this time is still challenging to me. Obligatory lunch dates or after-work activities definitely motivate me to leave my desk without remorse. Another great way is to set an alarm, that reminds me that it now is time to rest for a few minutes.
3. Make plans
If you’re like me, thoughts like “plans kill my creativity” or “I don’t need a plan, I love to work intuitively” might sound familiar, right? Straight out of my permanent position in project management I was so sure, that with my own business I would follow my sense of freedom and my intuition. Sure, creativity is great and an integral part of my work. Since I do want to make a living out of it, and I pretty quickly realized that along with all my independence comes a lot of responsibility, plans are my new business-bff.
Writing daily to do lists, defining short- and longterm goals, establishing workflows and creating content calendars – all these tasks need time. After all they are important for your self and time management though. In other words, we can only stay organized if we prioritize and structure our daily tasks and projects. As a result, not only our business will benefit, but also our customers.
Tools to stay organized
These are my two favorite tools that help me to organize and plan my business:
Notion is definitely my digital brain. Here I don’t only organize my business I basically plan my entire life with this tool. You can download and use it for free and it works on the desktop as well as on the smartphone. Text editing, complex databases, calendar views, tables and kanban boards – there is virtually nothing notion can’t organize.
How you use this tool is totally up to you and your needs. You can either create your own or import existing templates. Since Notion is very complex and versatile, it takes a little while to get used to all the functions. There are many helpful youtube tutorials out there helping you along the way.
Above all, my various notebooks help me to define my goals as well as they support me to be mindful and relaxed. Creative writing and journaling is a healthy routine that aligns my thoughts and eliminates chaos in my mind. While in a diary you’re writing down thoughts, activities and emotions, is a more guided practice, pursuing a certain purpose. Your thoughts and feelings are playing an important role here as well, but the process of writing is more conscious and focused.
There are many different journaling techniques and benefits, if you want to give it a try and don’t know where to start, check out this blogpost.
Mindful self and time management
Especially for freelancers a healthy work-life-balance doesn’t come easy. Most of the time we really love what we do. Therefore, separating business and personal life can be quite challenging. We need to manage our resources mindfully, if we want to work productive as well as stress-free, without compromising our well-being. And, let’s keep in mind, that this balance looks different for all of us. Anyways, routines, structures, plans and breaks are all ways to reach a healthy work-life-balance eventually.