From the Frontlines of Freelancing – Balancing Work and Life

 By Joshua Mackey

"So get this guys! I have a friend that makes a six-figure income, and doesn't even have to change out of his pajamas! Isn't that crazy?"

When I started freelancing in 2012, I was very confident in my ability to balance work and life. After all, I had been balancing work and life for years while I was in radio. Granted, work often seemed to outweigh life, which made life become a heavier weight on my shoulders. I made it work. Most of the time. Right? The idea of having MORE free time to allocate seemed like a luxury. Then reality set in.

For nearly a year, I took great comfort in the luxury of having more free time. I did some things I had wanted to do. I took some liberties with my daily schedule I had wanted to take. It was great. Unfortunately, my income wasn't rising to a level that would justify my brazen choice to go freelance. It seems the weight had shifted. Life was outweighing work, which oddly, made life become a heavier weight on my shoulders. So if work outweighs life, life gets tougher. If life outweighs work, life gets tougher. I see a pattern.

The pendulum will swing whether I want it to or not. My focus is to make sure it's swinging in a balanced way so as not to disrupt the natural flow of life. In order for me to provide for my family and have the life I want, I need to work. In order for work to be "worth it", I need to be living. Finding this balance isn't exclusive to freelancing, but it can be exacerbated when there's no "boss" breathing down your neck. I had to find a cohesive way to implement balance-wielding policies into my business.

Enter goal-setting.

I have committed to keeping studio hours of 8am-6pm Monday through Friday except most U.S. holidays. I have also committed to a particular "daily income" goal. When I get to the studio, I take care of any projects that are due or are coming due. Then, I search for new projects. I cold-call. I submit proposals and auditions. I do whatever I can to get the next gig. I keep working until I've either reached my daily income goal or until the clock strikes 6pm - whichever comes first.

In the two years I've been working like this, I have managed to meet my daily goal about 80% of the time. In addition, I have 3-5 days per month that my daily goal is shattered by a large project or a far-reaching campaign. After I implemented this "policy", I doubled my income without sucking precious time away from my family and life. I seem to have found the balance that had eluded me for so long. And I couldn't be happier. My business is thriving and I haven't missed one of my kids' sports games or dance recitals or parent/teacher conferences or all-important one-on-one time with them.

Is my routine the "best" routine? Probably not. But it works for me. And whether you're a freelancer, a business owner, or an employee, I encourage you to find your balance. Once you strike a balance between work and life, I think you'll find both to be much more rewarding as you're able to give yourself to each without the burden of sacrificing the other.

 Joshua Mackey is a professional voice talent and audio producer. He welcomes comments and questions at voice@mackeyvoicetalent.com. Visit www.MackeyVoiceTalent.com for more info.

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