How I Balanced Life and My first $10k Month on Upwork with Zero Burnout

Hey — if you’re just stumbling upon this, I’m Mike. I’m documenting my journey to earn $100,000 in 2017, solely on Upwork. I’m sharing the EXACT strategies that I use so you can build a side or full-time income as easily as possible. I hope this helps you. EVERYTHING I learn along the way on Medium. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook

I wasn’t planning on an update midweek, but I just realized that I crossed a major milestone without even know it. I just did my first $10k month! So I wanted to share some of the logistics that allowed me to put in this volume of work and remain well balanced and without burning out.

Screenshot of the 30 day time period 4/17/17 to 5/16/17

To hit this milestone, I put in about 210 hours over the last 30 days at an average rate of $50.85. That’s a an average of about 7 hours per day, which if translated into a normal 5 day work week would be 9.8 hours per week day. As a freelancer, I don’t think in terms of workdays and non-workdays; every day is a work day, but I wanted to give context to those who think about work in a traditional sense. Below I’ll explain how I broke down a typical week to hit this milestone.

Weekends

Being a freelancer, I don’t typically take the weekends completely “off” but they’re definitely lighter than M-F. I usually put in about 10 total hours on the weekend, usually when the kids are asleep at night or during the day between family activities.

My family life on the weekends is very important, and I make sure not to pressure myself to hit specific targets on the weekends. I’ve found that specific targets are best kept for weekdays, which allows me to be more present and enjoy my weekends. My mindset for work on the weekend is that any work done as a “bonus”.

Recently, I’ve even taken this logic into my planning. I started to account for days that I’m taking completely off (vacations, holidays) because it reduces my anxiety and ability to be present. I explain how I did this here. This also gives me better visibility to what kinds of numbers I should be hitting during the week to meet my goals. This way, when I go on vacation with my family, I’m not surprised when my earnings are low or zero, it’s already accounted for in my long term plan.

Weekdays

I have a pretty consistent, but by no means religious, routine during the week. I’m a creature of habit, so my weeks usually shape out very similar in structure with the exception of meetings and being on site with my local (non-Upwork) clients.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday it’s very important for me to take my son to preschool. One of the main reasons that I’m a freelancer in the first place is so that I can have the flexibility to spend quality time with my family when I want so taking him to school in the morning is a way of celebrating this. And it gives me a little extra time with him.

Once he’s dropped off, I’ll typically grab coffee and head to the office where I work on some of my local clients (not everything I do is through Upwork) and knock out anything I need to do for planning with my companies. Then I’ll get into my Upwork client’s projects. I usually log a few hours before walking to lunch at Northstar, and grab coffee at the local coffee shop. Being able to walk to Uptown Westerville from my office when it’s nice is awesome and its a good time to be able to be grateful for the freedom of time that I have as a freelancer.

When I get back to the office, I do more Upwork client work until about 4:00pm when I head home to see my family. I usually spend 15–20 minutes catching up on the day with them, and then I head to the gym. I usually work out at 4:30pm and do a kid-swap with my wife at 5:30pm when she comes to work out.

Then, I take the kids home, get dinner ready and when my wife gets home, we all hang out until 7:00pm when we try to do our nightly routine to get the kids to bed. That usually wraps up around 8:00pm.

For the rest of the evening, I’ll hang out with my wife, decompress, and if I feel like it, I put in some additional work while listening to the TV. Some days I’ll put in an hour at night, others I’ll do up to four. Then it’s off to bed to start it all over again.

Final Thoughts

The key to being happy as a freelancer (or any career) is finding the balance between work and life. I find that by doing good high-level planning and giving myself the freedom to take time with my family when I need it, the balance is very easy for me. If you’re going to do this for the long run, you need to be kind to yourself and not work yourself to death. Remember why you’re doing this in the first place.

I hope this was helpful to show you what a typical day looks like to hit this volume. If you have questions, hit me up in the comments or send me an email: mike@mikealbert.co.