Self-care is essential for maintaining productivity, quality of work and personal health, especially when working independently. Whether you’re working from home or an office, being self-employed can mean that you miss out on valuable employee benefits. Perks such as access to healthcare, taking sick leave and the support of your colleagues can make a big difference in your mental health and work life.
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to embed self-care into your daily work routine. It can be something as small as creating a comfortable working environment or dedicating time each day to spend offline, but it can dramatically help in decreasing stress levels and preventing burnout. It can be tempting to miss out on ‘me-time’ in favour of finishing off more work or checking through emails. However, you will find that setting aside an hour or so of your day to concentrate on your mind and body will actually make you moreproductive in the long run.
Working independently often means that the job of enforcing time constraints and deadlines falls to you, rather than to a manager or company boss. This is when having a set, but flexible, daily routine can help. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by lists of tasks, divide your day up into manageable chunks and plan specific activities for each section.
For example, use the first hour of your day to check in with yourself. Wake up properly, drink a cup of tea, do some gentle exercise, shower, and then turn on your computer. The freedom of working independently comes with having total responsibility for yourself and your work. Starting the day right means that you feel prepared for the tasks at hand and go into the work day with the right mindset.
Unfortunately, many of us spend far too long remaining stationary during our working day, either sitting at a desk or table. Physical exercise can be a great way to beat the ennui that sometimes comes from being deskbound and staring at a screen for too long. Poker player and jogger Robbie Strazynski advocates running as a way to beat stress and boost happiness. It also gives you an injection of endorphins and adrenaline, which you can then harness and use to increase your productivity when back at your desk.
Factoring in a short run or yoga session at a time that’s convenient to you means that physical exercise must become a part of your everyday life. Exercising first thing in the morning works well for a lot of people, because it helps prepare them for the work day; but it can be equally beneficial to take an exercise break at lunchtime or after work to de-stress.
Working independently can often feel isolating. If you work from home, you miss out on the companionship and support of colleagues; if you work from a rented desk, there might not be anybody else in the office who can help you in your particular area of expertise. It is important to cultivate relationships with others in your field and maintain face-to-face connections in your everyday life.
Having a strong support network is indispensable when things (inevitably) go wrong from time-to-time, so invest time and effort into your friends and colleagues—wherever they are in the world! Regular email contact, phone calls, social media, or even letter writing can all be great methods of maintaining contact when it’s difficult to meet up in real life. But don’t forget about those friends who are more geographically accessible. It can be only beneficial for both of you to schedule a meet-up every so often. If you attach as much importance to your monthly brunch or walk together as you do your daily exercise, you’ll be on your way to a happy, healthy, independent life!