Four Ways I Keep a Healthy Work-Life Balance as a Freelance Developer - Maia Hariton

Guest Blogger: Maia Hariton

Maia Hariton is the Founder of Cassiopeia, a web development agency. In 2015, she quit her 9 to 5 job to travel the world while working remotely as a software developer. 

I have been a freelancer for eight years and have learned several lessons about keeping a healthy work-life balance that I would like to share with you.

1.) Set Strict Work Hours

It’s important to have a schedule that you stick to everyday. Freelancing is not 9 to 5 (obviously), but being able to disconnect from work is something I’ve always hard time doing. When I started freelancing, I would work 15 hours a day for several weeks.  When I was done, I would crash hard. My productivity went down and I was dreading going back to work with clients.

Remember to take days off and communicate them with your clients so that they don’t expect you to respond to their emails or calls right away. I know how hard it is to stop working for days when you have work to do, but disconnecting is key to keep a good work-life balance. 

2.) Have a Defined Working Area

When I started freelancing, I would work from my bed in pajamas. However, I realized that I had a harder time falling asleep at night and focusing on my work throughout the day.

Someone advised me to pick an area in my apartment, set up a desk or even work at my kitchen table so that my bed was a place where I relaxed and slept and my brain would understand that the desk was my ‘workplace’.

Taking a shower and getting dressed also became a sort of ritual for me, signaling my brain that it was time for work.

3.) Take Healthy Breaks

Don't feel guilty when you are not working. 

Even if you do have a strict deadline, I would keep in mind to take healthy breaks. It could vary from reading the news, going to the gym, or taking a walk outside. I have a dog, so it forces me to go outside and walk her. I have realized that after each walk, I felt refreshed and ready to go back to work. 

I also schedule yoga classes in the middle of the day, on purpose, to get a good break. Yoga has positively affected my posture and alleviates the weariness that comes from hunching over my computer everyday.

4.) Separate Work Email from Personal Email

Finally, emails.

I have the worst habit of checking my emails when I immediately wake up.

By separating my personal email from my work email, I now only check my personal email until I am ready to work and only then, do I open my work email. I don’t even have access to it on my phone. This way the only way for me to get to my work email is when I am on my work laptop.

I believe that all of these small rules have changed the way I start the day without any stress and keeping my work and life fairly separate. I have to admit that there are days when I still break these rules, but overall my work-life is much healthier now than when I began.

I would love to hear any tips or rules you would like to share!