Are you one of the UK’s self-employed workforce? Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, despite there being a slight decrease in the number of self-employed, 4.75m of us are still working for ourselves - a big jump from the 3.3m who were self-employed in 2001.
There are plenty of reasons to become self-employed. Freedom is probably the most-used word to describe the benefits of working for yourself; being free to choose your hours, select who you work with and escape the costs and stress of commuting. But, as well as the positives, there are some challenges that come with being self-employed, including the lack of routine, a fluctuating income and many hours potentially spent working alone. So here are our top tips to help you stay happy, be successful and avoid going stir crazy!
- Start with the right mindset
If you are working from home this doesn’t mean it’s advisable to stay in your pyjamas or reach for the loungewear. Yes, it’s comfortable, but is it good for being productive? Probably not. Suits don’t need to be ‘de rigueur’ for working at the kitchen table, but dressing in clothes that put you in a professional and motivated frame of mind is a good idea. It also helps you separate work from home, so that it doesn’t all blur into one. After all, freelances still need that all important work-life balance!
- Put a spring in your step
It’s all too easy to become engrossed in work when you haven’t got the usual distractions of an office environment. You can look up and realise you’ve been sat stationary in front of a screen for hours, so taking a break is important for both your physical and mental wellbeing. Break up your day by stepping outside and taking a walk around the block. Even better, invest in one of the many fitness trackers available or simply download one of the apps on your phone to monitor activity. Upping your steps will not only improve your fitness levels, but it will also help you re-energise and return to your desk with renewed focus.
- Get out and socialise
As great as it is not to be embroiled in the usual office politics, the life of a self-employed worker can get a bit lonely. Try to find opportunities to meet up with like-minded people, so you can bounce ideas around, find complementary working partnerships, troubleshoot and support each other. With so many self-employed workers in the UK, support and networking groups aimed at all types of business are springing up. If there isn’t one local to you, think about setting up your own - you’ll be surprised how quickly it will grow!
- Allocate time for home and work tasks
One of the great things about being self-employed is that you can embrace flexible working. But when you’re working to your own timesheet, with no strict routine in place, sometimes the lines between work and home can merge, particularly when it comes to domestic admin. If you want to achieve a smooth work-life balance, allocate specific hours for tackling tasks such as managing the household budget, paying bills and reviewing and renewing insurance cover.
- Plan for the future
Recent research by the University of Sheffield shows that people who are self-employed are happier and more engaged at work. Arguably, this is how it should be! But sometimes things don’t pan out as we expect them to, and it’s good to have a back-up plan in case an injury or illness means we’re unable to work for a time.
Taking out insurance cover such as accident and sickness insurance can help to provide you and your family with a useful financial safety net if this happens. Comparing income insurance policies from several providers is the best way to find the right policy for you, leaving you to get on with enjoying the flexibility, freedom and control that you have over your working life as a contented self-employed professional!