This is a collaborative post.
If you are self-employed then you will know how hard it can be to try and keep everything operating as it should.
After all, you’re the boss and the employee – at times you may find that you just can’t balance everything, and it can be hard to stay as productive as you’d like without burning out.
Do you want to start working harder and more efficiently? Here are some top tips to get you started.
Work from home? Behave as if you were at work
Well, you are at work at the end of the day – but if you are self-employed, then you have a lot more room to slack off.
Working from home can make us a little bit sloppy sometimes.
Maybe you’re find that you’re still in your pyjamas at midday. (Maybe that was even one of the attractions of working from home!) That’s fine, but maybe you also slip into the habit of sending out sloppy emails as well. You may even find that you make work calls while you are frying up your breakfast or hanging out the laundry. This is just not an efficient way of doing things.
It’s so important that you are able to treat your work as if it’s just that – work.
Try and set working hours, get up early and always hold yourself to the same high standards you’d have of an employee. Things like this will help you to become better at your job, and when you set high standards for your work, you should see higher returns financially too.
For a bit of motivation, you might even want to check out this self employed guide to mortgages as well to find out if you’re on the right tracks with your self-employment and make sure your job can really fund the important things in life.
Be a good boss
Many self-employed people don’t treat themselves very well.
It’s obvious why, and the main reason for this is because every single thing will cost you money.
You can’t use office supplies without paying for them and you don’t have a tech team who can come out to fix your computer for you either. You may end up denying yourself the very few things that you need. But this may result in you not being able to do your job very well.
For this reason, you need to treat yourself from time to time.
Self care is important for everyone, but especially for those of us who work alone, hunched over at the computer all day. Self-employment can get lonely and stressful sometimes so make sure you take a bit of time for yourself.
Cook yourself a nice breakfast before you “go to work”. Treat yourself to some nice stationery, and even make sure that you are giving yourself a well-deserved pat on the back at the end of the day. Perhaps take a few minutes before clocking off to write a list of everything you achieved or feel proud of that day. Take regular breaks, remember to eat properly and go for a walk to get out of the house at least once a day if you can.
After all, you need to make sure that you are rewarding yourself for the work that you are putting in. And if you don’t reward yourself, who else will?
Securing work can be tough when you are self-employed. Getting it done is actually the easy part!
When you’re first starting out, it sometimes seems impossible to find leads. There’s a lot of pressure to work ‘for exposure’ or for super low pay until you’re more established, especially in the creative industries.
Try not to do this! You have to make sure that you are getting paid a fair rate for the work that you do.
If you don’t then you may find that you are neglecting yourself and you may not even be able to pay your bills.
It is so important that you are able to get paid a fair amount for the work that you do. Try to become familiar with going rates (networking with your peers, perhaps via Facebook groups, can help with this). Find the confidence to demand higher fees. It’s important to take time regularly to chase down any late payments as well.
When you are working, you may find it hard to think about not being with your kids and you may even feel as though you are not spending enough time with them. On the flip side, when you do spend time with them, you may feel bad about not working.
This can vicious cycle affects all working parents, but it can be even harder when you work at home because it’s harder to draw a line between ‘working’ and ‘not working’.
If you want to get around this then you need to make sure that you are taking the time to understand your working patterns. Set clear boundaries around times that you work and times that you don’t, and make sure your family understand.
And when it’s family time, make sure you’re fully with them – no checking emails on your phone.
It can also help to have a clearly defined work space so that when you’re sitting there, the kids know not to disturb you and when you’re done, you can physically step away from work. Even if you don’t have space for a proper office in your home, you can create the same effect with a designated work desk.
This can help to eliminate any guilt that you experience, and it will also help you to get more out of your day.
Remember take a break
Sometimes that you need to take a break, but self-employed people often feel that this isn’t possible.
Are one of those people who work and work but you never give yourself any time off? This will eventually wear you down and you may even find that you struggle to unwind at the end of the day as well. This can lead to issues sleeping and can eventually lead to physical and mental health problems.
Of course, if you want to get around this then you need to force yourself to have a break from time to time.
Make sure that you give yourself a holiday or go on vacation without taking your work with you. This is the only way that you will truly relax and it is the only way for you to have a mental break.
It can be tough when you’re a one-man or one-woman band, but consider setting up some passive income streams in your business (such as selling a video course or ebook) to keep the cash flow going when you’re off, or hire a virtual assistant on a temporary basis to keep things ticking over.
Self-employment has many benefits and can be extremely rewarding. Remember to look after yourself and you’ll see the rewards in your business!