As a freelancer or a business owner, it can be difficult to unwind and separate work from the rest of your life. You are constantly on call, worrying about clients’ needs and cash flow. No wonder so many freelancers burn out. The irony is that many of us chose this life in the first place to avoid the stress of a corporate office job. But multitasking and being in “hustle” mode all the time create different kinds of stressors altogether.
For freelancers, it is even more important to create mindful rituals, or routines in our days. We are not obliged to leave the house at a certain time to commute to work and stay a set amount of hours. Because of this, many freelancers report working even longer hours than they would at a day job. With this in mind, here are a few rituals that can help you unwind and recharge.
1. Get moving.
For many freelancers, it’s common to not leave the house for an entire working day. This means that you are getting much less physical activity. Even walking 20 minutes or so in a day (for instance, out to lunch and back) can make a big difference, clocking 6,000 steps. If you’re spending your entire day only walking around your house, chances are that you won’t even reach 2,000 steps. The recommended number of steps to take a day to stay healthy is 7,000 to 8,000.
Tip: Find a neighborhood hangout spot to walk to. It could be a cozy cafe, a grocery shop, or even a nearby park you can eat a packed lunch in. To avoid boredom from going to the same spot every day, create a routine around your rhythm. For example, if you prefer to stock your fridge up on Monday, consider making Monday the day to walk to the grocery shop. Find yourself struggling to get over that mid-week hump on Wednesday? Make that the day you take an extra long lunch break to unwind and walk in the park.
2. Treat yourself.
When you spend most of your waking hours at home, it’s easy for work to take over, and for the space to feel like an office all the time. Creating a clear distinction between work space and personal “me” space is important. One of the best places to create this “me” cave is in your bathroom. Instead of making your daily shower an obligatory task to rush through, make this a time to slow down and pamper yourself. Be deliberate about it.
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Tip: Invest in good quality bath products made from natural fragrances, rather than cheap drugstore brands. Although quality products cost a lot more, you need to use less of it to get clean. This is because they are not filled with filler and synthetic materials to bulk up the quantity. To get your mind and body into a calm state before you step into the warm shower, try “dry brushing” to improve blood circulation.
3. Eat well.
When you’re working solo, it’s tempting to rush through meals and skimp on them to save money. After all, it’s not like you have company, so why bother with a sit-down lunch when you can make a sandwich or order takeaway? But eating well is so crucial to maintaining our energy levels and mood throughout the day. Even if you’re on your own, eating well is worth it.
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Tip: If you don’t want a ton of washing up to do after cooking for one, look up new recipes for one pot meals or meals in jars. Make the effort at least once or twice a week to search out a new restaurant to try by yourself. Bring a book for company if eating alone makes you uncomfortable.
4. Keep learning.
When you’re running the whole show by yourself, it can often feel like life is one endless to-do list. From projects for clients, to invoicing, finance, administration, and hunting for new business, you’re always hustling. In the midst of checking of tasks, it’s easy to let learning become less of a priority. But all of us, no matter how good we are at our trade, need to get the saw sharpened every now and again.
Tip: To focus on learning, make it an agenda item on your calendar. Have a weekly routine of taking the time to learn something new. It could be a skill you need for your business, or even a personal interest or hobby. The point is to get different parts of your brain working. By doing so, you can unwind from your daily tasks and stimulate your creativity. You’ll find yourself refresh and able to look at your daily work in a fresh new light.
5. Connect with others.
No man is an island, even if you are a one-man show when it comes to your business. You may not have employees or bosses, but you can still build community around you. Your network is where you can go to for advice, learn from those who have gone before, exchange ideas, get introductions to potential new clients, and much more. It’s also where you can turn to for company to have a drink with, unwind, and swap war stories about the freelance life.
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Tip: You may find it more productive to work from a quiet home. Even then, make the effort at least once a week to go to a co-working space or a cafe where other freelancers typically gather. Or, look for other freelancers near you, and round up a group to go co-working together. Thanks to the internet, Facebook groups, and websites like Meetup, this is easier than ever to do.