Written By: Bailey Opsal
For many, working as a writer from home sounds like the ideal job.
Working in sweatpants, sleeping in until 9 am, and doing work from your couch does sound nice – especially in comparison to sitting in traffic and spending time in a musty, lifeless office punching the clock for someone else.
One of the best things about being a freelance writer is the freedom to work from anywhere. You can’t beat a 10-step commute from your bedroom to your home office.
While it’s true that working from home has some advantages, like anything, there are also challenges.
Once the newness wears off, one day you may find yourself looking around and realize you’ve gone all day without talking to another human being. Sometimes even longer. You may even start to feel isolated and crave those small office interactions you once took for granted.
Not to mention the wide array of distractions and no boss telling you exactly what to do and when to do it. Without some structure and focus to your day, you may find yourself procrastinating and not getting your to-do list done for the day.
While it takes some time to smooth out the specifics, you CAN stay sane while working from home. That’s where freelancer self-care comes in.
Think about it as a collection of ways to take care of yourself. Self-care practices help you put your best work out there, be productive even when you don't feel like it, and stay sane while working from home. It’s a toolkit of mindset shifts, actions, and beliefs to support you.
And if you plan to work from home for the long-term, freelancer self-care needs to become your new best friend.
So how exactly can we use this to our advantage?
You’re not punching the clock for anyone else anymore. Your time is yours and you have the freedom to set a schedule that works for you.
For some people, this is a relief. For others, it creates a massive opportunity for inactivity and procrastination.
If you find yourself in the latter group, shift your attitude from one of an employee to one of being your new boss. This is where some freelancer self-care can come in handy.
Give yourself 1-2 deadlines each day and hold yourself to them. Build up your momentum and prove to yourself that you can get things done. Hold yourself accountable and achieve what you set out to do.
This, of course, requires a mindset shift. You need to stop thinking of yourself as an employee and shift your mindset to that of a business owner. This small – but powerful – distinction sets you up for more productive days and greater insight into what is a priority and what isn't.
When you have a clear goal in mind, each day will feel more purposeful, helping you stay sane while working from home.
If you’ve read any personal development book these days, I’m willing to bet there was some mention of boundaries. Without boundaries, we:
There are many areas in life and business where setting boundaries is vital. Working from home is one of them.
If you share your at-home workspace with anyone else, establish expectations of what will happen during your workday.
Lay the foundation right away so that there are no misunderstandings about your availability. Make it clear that even though you’re home, it doesn’t mean you’re always available.
Boundaries are so important they get a second mention. This time in your business and client relationships.
One of the most important things you can do when you start a client relationship is establish expectations. If you don’t set expectations at the beginning, clients can accidently cross boundaries. You need to establish:
Setting expectations allows you to clearly outline your own boundaries, both for your clients and yourself. So if a client is asking you to do too much or is unrealistic with their time frame, you know this oversteps your boundaries and you can tell them.
While some hustle is inevitable, especially in the beginning, you also need to recognize your own limits. Have the courage to confront anyone who oversteps your boundaries. This is one of the biggest tools in your freelancer self-care toolkit! Don’t underestimate it.
If something isn’t working for you, say so. If a client is no longer a good fit, connect them with someone who would be a better fit and let them go.
While the ease and convenience of working from home is enticing, the lack of social interaction can become a challenge. At first, it may seem like a breath of fresh air to have your own space in your home to work, but after a while, you may start to realize how much even the small interactions at the office boosted your mood and motivation throughout your day.
The solution? Find people in your niche to connect with.
Connect with like-minded individuals through Facebook groups, LinkedIn, or weekly zoom check-ins. This has a powerful effect. Not only will this help you stay focused on your goals and learn, but it will also allow you to get a dose of social interaction during the day (because talking to your dog doesn’t count).
So, add this to your freelancer self-care toolkit. When I started scheduling consistent zoom check-ins with a fellow copywriter, my productivity improved and I made a new friend. Double win.
Stay sane while working from home by creating connections and then communicate with them often.
When I first started freelance writing, I didn’t have a dedicated space in my house. I moved from the kitchen table, to the counter, to the coffee table, and then to my desk. Sometimes all in one day.
While a change of scenery can be useful, if you don’t have a set workspace, it can be hard to get into the right mindset. The lines between work and home start to blur.
One of the best things I’ve done for myself is to create a dedicated space in my house for work. When I’m there, I’m working. There’s no confusion about work and home. My desk is where I get it all done. This is a freelancer self-care tip to prioritize, especially early on.
Remember tip #1? You’re the boss now. So, when a project doesn’t align with the goals of a company, the boss turns it down. Since you’re the boss now, that means you!
Having a self-care practice as a freelancer means advocating for yourself and learning to say no. Without boundaries in place and creating your own expectations of your workday, you don’t have the clarity to know when a project isn’t in line with your vision.
If something doesn’t feel right or you find yourself putting off a project, recognize that this might not align with your goals right now. And that’s completely okay. Learn to say no.
When I stopped trying to force work that didn’t feel right, my workday flowed easier and I felt better.
As much as wearing your pajamas all day can be fun, the novelty wears off when you realize it’s been days since your last shower and your stretch pants are wearing out.
So what’s a girl (or guy) to do?
Get dressed in the morning. Take a shower. Do your hair. Prepare for a workday as if you had to go into the office by putting on real clothes.
By creating a morning routine, you establish structure within your day. Without the routine of preparing for work, commuting, and walking into the office, your day can feel like there’s no definite start. Create a morning routine to get yourself in the mindset to create valuable work for the day.
When you go through the motions of getting ready, you’ll feel better and start your day on a productive note – that’s freelancer self-care if I’ve ever heard of it.
There you have it. A collection of freelancer self-care tips to help you stay sane while working from home. If these are new to you, try one and see how it goes. Once you’ve integrated that into your daily routine, try another and keep going.
The more you take care of yourself, the more productive and aligned you’ll be. And who doesn’t want that?
The key is to create habits, self-care practices, and mindset shifts that set you up for success.
If you want even more support in harnessing the power of your mindset as a freelance writer, check out the Master Your Mindset Course by Sarah Turner and Emily Ann.
How do you take care of yourself while working from home? Do you have any freelancer self-care tips that have worked for you?