How freelancers and business owners can find a better work/life balance

What does lack of sleep do to our body?

According to the NHS, not getting enough sleep is universally bad for us. Missing out on enough hours can have a really negative effect on your brain and body.

The occasional all-nighter won’t have a major impact on your health, but you’re likely to be fatigued and irritable the next day. If working late becomes a habit though, your immune system and mental wellbeing will take a battering.


Why does this matter?

When your business is demanding a lot from you, it’s very easy to neglect yourself. Proper meals and 8-hours at night don’t feel as important when you’ve got a big pitch to win or a major project to finish.

Think about it this way though - you’re the brain behind your business and it needs to keep working at its best. Keep stretching your working hours out long enough, and you’ll start to make mistakes, feel ill, and potentially have to take time off later.

An Australian study even found that being awake for 17-20 hours is the equivalent of having 0.1% blood alcohol level, which would get you pulled over for drink driving.


1. Keep track of how you’re spending your day

If you’re working through the night, there could be something going wrong in the day. For a week or two, make a note of how you spend each half hour or hour. You’ll soon start to see where time is being wasted, and what’s eating up the majority of your day.


2. Get more organised

Put things in place to stop those time-wasters. It could be keeping calls and meetings to a set time of the day, using cloud software so it’s easier to work on the move, or just going back to basics with a written desk diary.


3. If a few late nights are inevitable, know when to stop

Everyone needs a different amount of sleep, and only you know when you’re feeling really tired. If you feel more productive at 8pm, or it’s the only time to get admin done when the kids are in bed, set yourself a reasonable limit. When the clock hits those numbers, it’s time for bed.


4. Be straight with your clients and customers

If you’ve got so much work to do that burning the midnight oil feels like necessity, the problem could be you’re saying ‘yes’ too much. If something is hard to squeeze in, tell your clients and customers what they can expect instead. That conversation can be difficult at first, but it gets easier when you start feeling comfortable with the boundaries you’ve set.


5. Think about your motivations

We all work a bit too hard sometimes. Has extra pressure become a habit? Do you feel a responsibility to someone or something? Do you worry your business needs constant attention? Identify what’s keeping you up at night, and you’ve taken the first step towards fixing it.


6. Look after yourself in other ways

Stress and extra hours are fairly normal for a business owner or busy freelancer. That might never change, but you can change how you treat your body and mind. That means prioritising proper meals, getting some exercise (even just once a week helps!), mindfulness, scheduling social and family time, and doing something about it when your energy levels are low.

All-nighters are often a habit, and habits can be broken. If you’re spending way too many 1ams at your desk, it’s time for a change. Solna can’t make you go to bed at 10, but it can make invoicing effortless.

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