#22: How to Create a Better Work-Life Balance, with Laura Poole

Today’s guest is Laura Poole, a freelance editor from Durham, N.C. Laura has been a freelancer for about 22 years, almost her entire career. She provides copyediting for scholarly nonfiction publishers and training for editors and freelancers. She is also a trained, certified life coach. In this episode, Laura talks about creating work-life balance while running a freelance business.

Laura explains that work-life balance is about creating the life you want, which is a personal definition for everyone. It’s not about time and task management. It’s about having the things that you want in life.

Laura had two key moments in her life and career when she realized she needed to improve her work-life balance. The first is when she and her husband started talking about having a child and she realized she had to let go of some things to make room for a baby.

The second realization came when she asked herself why she was working evenings and weekends. The point of freelancing was so she could work when she wanted.

“I woke up to my own justifications,” Laura said. Two years ago she challenged herself to stop working weekends and now she never works weekends. Raising rates and finding higher-paying clients helped make that possible.

Laura talks about the problem of saying yes all the time, which leads to overwork. And many women are people pleasers who have a hard time saying no. (I also think it makes it hard for my Midwestern polite self to say no.)

Laura shares a helpful tool to learn when to say yes and when to say no. Ask yourself:

If I say yes to this, what else am I saying yes to? What am I saying no to?

If I say no to this, what am I saying yes to? What am I saying no to?

These questions will help you discover the values you hold.

No is a complete sentence. That’s true, but it’s often hard to say no. Laura provides some tips, including how to be direct.

Laura doubled her rates a few years ago: “Waking up to my own value was key. I believe in getting paid for the value of my work, not my time.” Brilliant!

That realization and effort gave her back time to get back into hobbies she loved, like quilting and baking.

When it comes to the business side of freelancing, ask yourself what you really need to do and what’s most effective. Focus on that. You can’t do it all and you need to take breaks.

Laura talks about breaking the feast-or-famine cycle, partly by noticing patterns in your work schedule throughout the year.

And when times are slow? Take some time off! Restorative time is important.

Laura is a big fan of experimenting with things, like going to a conference and tracking what happens from that for an entire year.

Biz Bite: Take a few moments of peaceful clarity and think about what you want more of in your life. What do you need to change to make that happen?


Laura’s book: “Juggling on a High Wire: The Art of Work-Life Balance When You’re Self-Employed

Laura on Twitter


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