So many sit in their day jobs and wish they could freelance so they could have more freedom, more free time, and control over their lives. Then once they strike out on their own they find themselves working 24/7 and tethered to every digital gadget imaginable and the dream of work life balance and freedom go out the window in the pursuit of gigs and income.

Now that I am fully in the flow of working for myself I have to say that I’ve experienced moments of pure workaholism. Fortunately I practice what I teach as a coach and manage to catch myself and create more ease and balance in the process. Some days and weeks are easier than others. My biggest secret lies in making a mindset shift, trusting, and giving myself permission to disconnect and have a life. When I do that it always, always without fail allows me to create more wealth in my life and business.

So, why is it so hard to do? And, why do so many fall in the trap they from which they initially sought to break free? Most importantly, how can you avoid this trap too?

The Urban Muse shares some simple and practical steps in “My Secret to Work-Life Balance”:

But even I know how important it is to set aside personal time, whether that means sneaking off to the Cape or squeezing in an afternoon workout. I actually schedule that time in Google calendar.

Seeing the time blocked out on my calendar legitimizes it. Sure, sometimes I’ll shift personal time so I can finish an email or answer the phone (as mentioned above), but having that downtime written down is really important. That’s really the secret: not waiting until everything else is done before you allow yourself to rest. I’ve learned to schedule downtime and treat it with (almost) as much respect as I would a professional appointment.

Stephen Covey of “7 Habits for Highly Effective People” made famous the phrase “begin with the end in mind”. I liken it to the maxim of never letting what matters most come at the expense of what matters least. It is so easy in business for yourself to be so busy and engage in crisis mode that you’d think you were back in an office responding to the whims of a lunatic. When you’re self-employed and working for a lunatic, you’re the only one who can do something about it. That is why I think Tips 9 and 10 in “10 Tips to Stay Motivated, Sane and Productive” are so close to my heart and crucial to creating balance with ease.

9. Put the gems in first. In her inspiring training sessions, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Julie Lenzer Kirk ( hands out jars of coloured sand and bags containing about 20 glass ‘gems’. “Now work out how to get all the gems in the jar with the sand” she instructs. Of course, the only way to do it is to take the sand out, put the gems in first, and then pour the sand in so it fills the spaces. How often do we fill our lives up with sand and find there’s no space for the gems? Work out what the gems are in your business and personal lives and make sure you’re putting them in the jar first.

10. Know which balls are glass and which are rubber. Another great analogy from Julie is that while we’re all juggling many different balls in our lives, it’s crucial to know which will bounce (rubber) and which will shatter (glass) if we drop them. These will probably change during your life so assess regularly which ‘balls’ you need to be prioritizing. Non-negotiables like quality family time, ‘date night’ with your partner or filing your tax returns on time are likely to be glass forever.

We will all die with items on our to-do list. Make sure the items that never make the cut are not the truly important ones.

What if the whole balance thing is a myth? What if we have all been chasing the impossible rainbow? That’s what Julie Roads hints at in her post “work/life what???” when she speaks of a recent talk she attended given by Karol Rose of FlexPaths:

But what struck me the deepest was her statement, and belief, that there is no such thing as work/life balance. Her working phrase is work/life effectiveness. She maintains that the concept of work/life balance is a myth – a terrorizing, set-you-up-to-fail, myth (my descriptors). They will never be balanced because they are always shifting and moving. On Tuesday when your kid gets the chicken pox or is in the little league championships, the scale tips to life. On Wednesday when you have a presentation and 4 deadlines, the scale tips to work. No amount of planning can secure a set schedule, or an actual balance.

So the key is work/life effectiveness.

Whatever you call it — the bottom line is you need to consciously DO it. Create a balance, a flow, a method for effectiveness that works for you. It’ll not only help keep you sane but allow you to experience real success.

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, works with women who are ready to create their lives and businesses the way the want rather than how they were told they “should”. Ready to learn how to achieve success on your own terms? Download the free 12 part eCourse “How to Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin” at her website and Coaching4Lesbians blog.