The way we view work is changing and, as more of us are able to move away from a traditional 9-5 in a generic office block and into freelance pursuits and side hustles, we’re entering a world where phrases like “the daily grind” and “burnout” are distant memories.
Or are they?
It can be deceptively hard to balance work and play when it all happens within the same four walls of your home. Dreaming of being your own boss is one thing, but holding yourself accountable, managing meetings with school runs and self-care whilst still providing a stellar service can sometimes make ‘doing what you love’ to ‘doing what you used to love but now can’t bear the thought of’.
Balancing your own well-being with the well-being of your business is essential as when you work for yourself: your well-being IS the well-being of your business. Here are a few tips to help you burn through your workload, without burning through yourself and losing the spark that set you off on your journey of self-employment.
Chances are one of the reasons you choose to go self-employed is to not take your work home with you. Ironically, this is exactly what happens! It’s easier than ever to check emails from the bathroom or finish just one more task even though it’s well past clocking out time. Set yourself working hours and stick to them. Put them in your calendar, diary, on the fridge, wherever you’ll see them and make yourself accountable.
This will help you identify what is work and what is play and help you relax when you’re at home but not at your desk. Of course, a joy of being in charge of your own schedule is YOU choose the work hours. Are you most productive at 3am? Crack on! But just make sure you take time to rest too, it’s all about balance.
When you are pushed to the limits with your nose to the grindstone in a job you’re not passionate about it can be hard to maintain focus and a positive outlook. BUT it’s just as easy (if not easier) to overwork when you love what you do because well, you love it!
However, taking breaks is essential for your well-being and the quality of your product will also benefit from regular interludes away from the task at hand. Try breaking up your day into tasks and then tackle those tasks with the help of the Pomodoro technique – where you set a timer to work 25 minutes uninterrupted followed by a short break. Get up away from your screen in your break time and get yourself a glass of water, pop the kettle on or do a little dance. Anything that gives your brilliant brain a second of respite. Then when you sit down to your task again you’ll find you’ll have renewed energy and sharper focus, ready for the next 25 minutes.
When you’re working for yourself it can be hard to step away and see the bigger picture. If you were still employed in a larger company you’d have regular appraisals to recognise how far you’ve come and set new goals. This objective approach is vital when you're self-employed too so that you can stay focused and keep the clarity around why you’re doing what you do, without getting caught in the emotions of the day to day execution of your biz. Set yourself an afternoon a month to get out of the house and review your progress and set new goals. Don’t forget to celebrate your wins as they are no doubt incredible no matter how small!
Another way to continuously check in with yourself is to find a support network. There are plenty of groups online with likeminded entrepreneurs looking to hold themselves accountable to their goals, or you could set up a mastermind group with likeminded freelancers and have weekly check-ins where you identify your weekly wins and aspirations for the coming month.
Working for yourself can truly be living the dream, just make sure you find the balance to experience the wonderful life you’re building for yourself too!
Photograhy: Nicole Honeywell | Brooke Cagle | Freestocks | Claire Graham Photography