It’s a funny thing, self-employment, and these misconceptions are common. There are a million things to do in any given day, but to the same end, I don’t HAVE to do a lot of them. I want to. And that’s where the problem comes. I want to do a million things, but I only have a finite amount of time.
When I took the plunge and went full-time self-employed, I found that I was working from very early in the morning until late into the night, without taking time to eat, rest or (sometimes) even wash or dress. Every single day. I was determined to do everything at once – while at the same time utterly terrified that for the first time in my life I no longer had the safety net offered by employment. I got exhausted, and lonely, very quickly, and realised that I probably needed to re-evaluate how I was doing this whole self-employment thing.
I read a few blogs, I spoke to a few self-employed friends, and I discovered that it’s pretty important to have a routine in place. Here are my top tips:
1. Get dressed
We’ve all been there. There’s something great about earning a living while you’re still in your pyjamas, but once the novelty wears off it’s actually just a bit slobby. And smelly. You don’t have to be wearing a suit and tie, but wearing something comfy and clean will make all the difference.
2. Brush your teeth
Okay, so I reckon anyone who says they shower every morning if they are working from home might be telling fibs. But while the temptation to run to your desk and start work right away is strong, take a moment, wash your face, brush your teeth and start the day (sort of) fresh, and vaguely hygienic!
3. Walk to work
Yep, even if you work from home, step out of the house, walk round the block (grab a coffee if you like) and then start work. That five minutes will make all the difference, you’ll have cleared your mind, woken up properly, and feel set up for the day ahead of you!
4. Have planned work hours
Of course it’s one of the best things about being self-employed, and working on your own, that you can’t actually be late for work. But by making a proper plan about what time you plan to start and finish work, you know how much time you have to get everything done. It might make that foray onto Facebook a little less tempting…
When I worked from home I'd often skip lunch, and keep working through. Which meant by late afternoon I'd be starving and unproductive, grabbing something sugary on the Post Office run. Have stuff in the fridge for a quick easy lunch – hummus, crackers, salad, soup. All healthy and quick to prepare. Move away from your workspace and take a meaningful break (or possibly less meaningful, I secretly love watching an episode of Corrie on my lunch).
6. Don’t encourage distractions
Friends can get really excited when you first give up your day job – they pop round or make plans for long lunches and afternoon coffees. Of course it’s great to have the flexibility to do this if you want to, but be wary of doing it too much – and don’t be scared to explain to friends and family that you are working if you need to.
For me, moving into a shared workspace outside of the house - eventually - really helped; but more about that in another post! I’m still somewhat guilty of working a lot, but it’s gotten much easier to finish work and at least take time off during the evenings, and I feel so much happier for it.
Do you have any tips about developing a routine?