Freelance Tips: How to Set Healthy Boundaries as a Freelancer
You’re a freelance proofreader. You’ve escaped the boss over your shoulder, the 7 a.m. commute, and the late nights at the office. But new trouble’s stirring: Saturday night emails from clients that won’t quit, uncontracted work on ever-growing projects, and weekends that were supposed to be time off spent at your desk. You can avoid it all, but you’ve got to set healthy boundaries. This post will give you some tips on how to do so.
Why Is It Important to Set Boundaries?
Setting boundaries can prevent you from overworking yourself or worrying over unreasonable demands from clients. Ultimately, you’ll have a better work-life balance if you set healthy boundaries.
So what boundaries should you set? See our tips below.
Untimely phone calls and barrages of emails are the first things you’ll want to nip in the bud. Set the following restrictions for yourself and make sure that any new clients are aware of them:
- Contact hours – Don’t feel pressured into responding to clients at any time of the day or week. Organize your week with time that you’re on and off. Next, let your clients know the hours that they can expect to hear from you.
- Response timescales – It’s unreasonable for a client to expect an immediate response from you. But it’s up to you to keep them informed about how long it usually takes you to reply (e.g., that they can expect to hear from you within 24 hours).
- Contact methods – Would you prefer clients to reach you via email, text, phone call, or something else? Choose an option that makes you easily contactable but on your own terms.
Setting these boundaries will prevent clients from contacting you in ways you’re not okay with and help you switch off from work when it’s time to do so.
It’s equally important to agree upon the kinds of work you offer and how you will carry it out. It’s best to lay out the following before you begin work:
- Project scope – Ensure that you and your client have a clear understanding of the planned work. Should you encounter any scope creep, make sure to notify your client of any additional costs and/or renegotiate the brief.
- Project deadlines – Don’t let a client demand unreasonable turnaround times. Fit them into a schedule that works for you. And if they are unwilling to agree to your terms, then consider walking away.
- Feedback – Waiting for a client’s feedback can be disruptive to your schedule. If your project will involve submitting work for the client to give you feedback on, agree on a timeframe for this beforehand.
- Revisions – Some clients may request a few revisions to their work when giving feedback. That’s okay, but you’ll need to consider whether their requests are in line with what you’ve agreed to do. In your initial terms, you can state that you’re happy to do one round of revisions on a piece of work and charge more for anything beyond this.
Setting these boundaries will minimize the chances of any unwanted surprises as projects develop.
Work Hour Boundaries
It’s not just interactions with clients that need boundaries; you need to set some for yourself. Setting a schedule and keeping to it is vital to working freelance sustainably. Try to:
- Stick to a set finish time each day and give yourself time to recharge every night. When it seems tempting to work overtime, remember that you set these boundaries to help keep a healthy routine and avoid burnout.
- Make a point not to work weekends. Freelancing full-time doesn’t mean freelancing all the time. Provided you’re not freelancing on the side of another job, try to give yourself proper time to unwind at the weekends.
- Organize your schedule. Allocating time for each of your tasks will help you to stay productive and make you more likely to finish on time. You can use time management tools to help you keep track.
Keeping work from taking over is one thing, but what about setting healthy boundaries around your personal life? It’s just as important to manage the interference personal commitments can have on your job.
Though everyone’s private life is different, consider if there are any changes you could make. It might mean telling your family and friends that you’re not available to accept calls or run errands just because you work from home, for example.
Tips for Setting Healthy Boundaries
Being clear and upfront about your boundaries is the best way to keep everyone on the same page. It’s all well and good knowing your boundaries, but you need to also communicate them to the people around you.
For clients, we recommend setting out your terms of service in a freelance proofreading contract. That way the client can decide whether to agree to your terms of service or find another proofreader.
When it comes to your personal life you obviously won’t need a contract! But the same principle applies: communication, openness, and honesty are key.
Become a Proofreader
If you’d like the freedom to set your own rules, become a proofreader. Our accredited course has all you need to get going in the world of freelance proofreading. You can sign up today or check out our free trial.
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