Today I’d like to focus on well-being strategies and support for those of us who are self-employed/freelance. When you work for someone else sometimes its difficult to try and fit well-being into a routine which has been set for you, there are limitations and creativity is needed to think outside the box to create strategies. I enjoy working with and encouraging people to try and see how they can create better working environments and relaxation into their daily routines. It is always possible. Knowledge and understanding of our personal working culture and environment at work is necessary. Support and encouragement of well-being at work from the management of a team is awesome, Google is a very good example of a business that prioritises the well-being of its staff.
So being in charge of your own well-being as a self-employed individual should be easy, right? No? So why not?
Psychologically speaking, being your boss can throw up all sorts of barriers and stresses which might prevent you from creating a working day that is productive as well as good for your well-being. I would like to explore some of the challenges you might face and how you might overcome them.
The idea for this blog came from my own experiences and struggles in starting my own business and from others with start ups with whom I hang out with. So I’d like to thank them for sharing their thoughts which have been an inspiring contribution.
Try and keep a working hours routine if you struggle to be disciplined with your time and especially if you work from home. Aim to get to your desk for your office opening time and finish when your office closes. Eg 9-5 . The beauty of creating your own hours means of course that times can be adjusted to suit you but try to stick to a routine. So for all you that love your mornings to start a bit later then this is positive. Finishing on time can be hard for those who are in creative business or for those who simply love what they do.
Another note about work routine and professionalism- If you are sending emails at 11pm at night this tells me that you are still working! However tempting this might be, stick to working hours and switch off your emails/work phone outside your hours. Its not good for you and you might look like a workaholic to your clients.
Eat well- focus on getting healthy routines in your diet, maybe make and share food with other people if you have spent all day on your own. Take lunch to work.
Stop and have a life- Work out how many hours a day you would like to work and stick to it, use your free time as time for the rest of your life to have a balance.
Exercise and relaxation- The NHS have provided guidelines for what each of us should be doing weekly to keep our bodies and minds healthy. Why not combine a few activities during your working day to both break up your work and engage with other people. Working in isolation can be lonely. You will feel the benefits from an extra boost of oxygen to your brain and happy endorphin hormones surging through your blood stream. Eg do an activity routinely with another self-employed person you know or join a group locally. Set up your working day around activities… have you ever had an employer who has allowed you to do that?? If it helps, you can set up a working timetable of your own and mix it up each week for motivation. Adjust your hours accordingly so that you still work your set hours.
‘On Tuesday morning you can swim before going to the office…. then you may have an hour out in the afternoon to go to the local meditation group, you can take lunch when you like and even go out for lunch with your friend……Wednesday , why not take two hours to go climbing with a friend before starting work and in the afternoon why not take an hour to do something creative? Thursday why not do some mindfulness before starting work, take a local exercise class locally and then do some mindfulness before leaving your desk? ‘
List all the activities that would feel relaxing and mindful to you and exercise you can do locally to break up your day. Experiment with what works to discover your own unique routine.
Here’s an example- Yours will be much more unique!
|Morning Before work||Swim @7am||Go for a run on own or with a friend||Cook breakfast||Climb before work|
|Mid morning||Go to a coffee shop and read for an hour|
|Lunch||Have lunch with friend||Go for a walk over lunch time||Cook lunch||Have lunch with a friend||Call a friend or relative|
|Mid Afternoon||Do some Yoga||Do 10 mins mindfulness||Do some drawing for half an hour||Do some Yoga||Make a healthy Smoothie|
Fear can be a big lousy barrier in this type of work but don’t try to avoid or eliminate it. You sometimes have to sustain high levels of uncertainty, financial insecurity, loss, criticism and exposure with freelance work. So get some support from others! Surround yourself with enthusiastic people who will encourage and support your vision. Read about Successful entrepreneurs and business people and follow them on social media.
Develop strategies to give the fears some attention so that you can recognise what they are but move forward despite them.
- Journal- Write about them- all of them! This can help you to gain perspective.
- Talk to a friend
- Talk to people in your industry/business or other freelance people. Share how you feel, listen to how they feel and any ideas they might have for you.
- Talk to a Counsellor about the fears to help you move forward
- Get a business mentor- If no one is offering then find someone in business you admire and ask them to mentor you. If they cant, don’t stop there, try another.
- Practice mindfulness- learn to take on the inner critic and where to dump them!
- Positive mantras- Put positive and inspiring quotes in your work space, collage your work vision and put it somewhere you see it daily. If you receive feedback from your work then put positive feedback in a prominent place.
- Acceptance- Accept that you will have days when you will doubt what you are doing, these days will pass.
- Read! Some encouraging books that I can recommend for those starting out in business are : Do Fly by Gavin Strange and Hearing our Calling by Gill Coombs
Some of you will have a set place you work depending on what you do or some of you may travel. For those of you who are flexible to where you could work, why not try these ideas
- Find creative hubs of people and work alongside them eg shared studio spaces, hot desking, shared office spaces,
- Mix up your place of work- take your work into local libraries and coffee shops for inspiration, meeting others and focus.
- Work with others- why not work somewhere with other freelance people, invite them over and provide healthy snacks!
Focus on the positives of your work. What are you grateful for in your life today?
I hope that this has been useful to you and has maybe given some of you permission to enjoy your working day. Yes we can actually enjoy our working day! Put the guilt inner critic away! You have chosen self employment for all the reasons you have, lets revel in the positives of being free to work as we want to despite the fears and difficulties, it really is a privileged space not many will step out into. For further support or information then do get in touch.