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How to Set Boundaries as A Freelancer - Blog

How to Set Boundaries as A Freelancer

How to Set Boundaries as A Freelancer

Freelance life affords the freedoms of ownership of one’s hours, discretion over choice of clients and projects, choice of working location, and the choice of how much work is enough for you. As a freelance accountant, your independence is vital to your happiness.

Freelance life affords the freedoms of ownership of one’s hours, discretion over choice of clients and projects, choice of working location, and the choice of how much work is enough for you. As a freelance accountant, your independence is vital to your happiness.

These freedoms are not radical freedoms, but operate within bounds – the quality of your work has to be good enough to attract and keep clients happy, you must work enough hours to get your work done, you must work somewhere with an internet connection and cellphone signal (or, depending on the needs of your clients, within visiting distance). These preconditions for freelance success are not guaranteed, and require constant attention. The freelancer, while free, is vulnerable.

Vulnerability, and conscious awareness of vulnerability, will provoke defensive responses from those caught in this state. Chief among these defensive responses is the tendency to be consumed with the demands of one’s work. The office-bound worker is slightly better-equipped with the tools to remove themselves from the pressure of their productivity. Residual anger and anxiety are processed in the post-work squeeze of traffic, where the similarly stressed vent with smashed horns, vulgar howls, and raised fingers, using as proxies the incompetent and arrogant road users. 

The freelancer may not be blessed with a similar daily cathartic process. Here are some actions you should take to keep burnout at bay:

 1. Working hours

Sticking to strict working hours is important – if you can reliably be reached during a set, and public, space of the day, your clients will be kept happy, and the rest of your life won’t be intruded upon. Keeping to fixed hours mean that you have to work to completion within that period. It also means that outside of those hours, you should avoid answering work emails, and fielding work calls. For some, keeping a work cellphone is best – calls outside of work hours can be fielded by answering machine.

2. Know thyself

Setting clear deadlines for yourself, and communicating these deadlines to clients will allow you to plan your days effectively. You want to avoid, as much as possible, having to intrude on your leisure time – after all, work is only a part of a good life. The risk for the freelancer is that independence from a large organisation comes at the cost of independence from life – avoid this trap with sound planning.

3. Keep a work space

Working as a freelancer means that you can choose where you do your work. While you may not be able to afford offices of your own, or even a co-working space, you should not be tempted to work in a place where you also spend your leisure time. The big risk isn’t that you’ll be tempted to shirk from your work in favour of relaxation; rather, your relaxation space, whether it’s your bedroom or living room, will become associated with work. The way we use space has big effects on our well-being.