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Freelance trainers: how to achieve a work–life balance?

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Freelance trainers have a major advantage in being able to organize their time as they see fit!

While for many the life of a freelancer represents an ideal with regard to freedom and flexibility, it is not always easy to find time for yourself. How can you achieve a good work–life balance as a freelance trainer?

Tip no. 1: don’t work from home

It is very tempting to work from home when starting out as a freelance trainer, both in terms of cost and for practical reasons (childcare, housework, etc.).

The good news is that you have a range of options for leaving your house:

  • Coworking spaces are becoming increasingly common. Depending on the space, you can either rent an office for the year or choose to spend a few hours there from time to time according to your schedule. This is often the most economical and flexible option, especially if you don’t need an office full-time.
  • If you often travel to teach your courses, bear in mind that you can find spaces to rent by the day in most business districts close to stations.
  • Renting an office with others: you can suggest to colleagues or other freelancers the idea of renting a large office together in order to pool resources.
  • Work in a cafe: another solution to create a cheap and stimulating working environment.

Your commuting time also creates a buffer zone between work and home life.

Tip no. 2: be able to switch off

Set yourself fixed office hours: you have probably noticed that one of the main advantages of being a freelancer is being able to set your own working hours. Whether you decide to work typical 9 to 5 hours or to work at the weekends, it is important to let your clients and trainees know that you are not available outside of these times (indicating your hours in your email signature or on your website, for example).

Use a second telephone for work and, above all, turn it off outside of your office hours! This will remove the temptation to answer emails in the evenings or at weekends.

Allow yourself to take time off: employees have the right to take time off, so why not you? At the beginning of the year, set yourself a number of days’ leave for the year to come. Check on them regularly over the course of the year. If you have not used them, schedule in some days off. If you have taken too many, you can make an effort and work a few weekends.

Tip no. 3: be well-organized

The first two tips are difficult to implement without good organization.

Among the many systems that exist, one that works particularly well consists in organizing your day according to themes. This method is well-suited to trainers, whose timetables vary from week to week and for whom administrative tasks, client appointments, training preparation and personal activities all have to be planned around the actual training sessions.

How does it work in practice?

  • Open your agenda (paper or online) and enter all your training courses planned, if they are not already shown.
  • Before and after your training sessions, set aside time slots corresponding to travel time (use another colour).
  • Add personal activities you enjoy (sport, recreational activities and family time). If you are take part in a weekly sporting or cultural activity, fill in the corresponding time slot each week.
  • Don’t forget to colour weekends and days off grey. Those days must not be touched!
  • Now that your personal activities and training courses are planned, you can enter blocks of work into the remaining time slots available.

This method is a simple way of organizing your week to come according to your planned courses and helps you prioritize correctly.

Over time, you will probably test other methods for organizing your time and finding the right work–life balance. The important thing is to clearly define your priorities between work and your personal life and come to an agreement with yourself. If you were working for a company, you would respect your commitments. You are fortunate enough to be your own boss, so make the most of it and take care of yourself!

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