When you’re self-employed, there are a lot of things that you are responsible for: from finances to marketing and taxes to your health, you are the core of your business. So, given that you are the heart and soul of the business, one of the most important things that you need to be responsible for is your health and wellbeing.
Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re taking care of yourself when you’re self-employed.
Keep personal and business time and space separate
When you are working for yourself, it can often be very easy to let personal time become filled with business-related tasks, but this can be extremely harmful. It throws off your work-life balance, decreases focus, lowers motivation and can even lead to problems with both physical and mental health.
Make sure you are trying to set clear boundaries between what is your working day and what is your personal time. If you’re self-employed and working from your home, then it is also important to also clearly separate your working and living space as this is when it becomes easy to blur the lines between business and personal.
Try to avoid working from your bedroom at all cost and aim to avoid working from your main living room or kitchen if you can. Also, if possible, try to set up one designated desk or ‘office’ space that you work from. This will help you subconsciously switch from ‘work mode’ to ‘personal mode’ in certain spaces of the home.
Being self-employed might mean that you no longer have traditional colleagues, but that doesn’t mean that you need to work alone. One of the biggest problems facing those who are self-employed is the feeling of loneliness and isolation. In fact, research has shown that 48% find self-employment lonely, and 46% find it isolating.
However, there are steps that you can take to combat these feelings when you’re self-employed. One thing you could try is to join, or work from, a co-working space a few times a week. This will allow you to interact with other self-employed workers so that you are getting some much-needed human interaction.
If this doesn’t sound like something you would benefit from, then you should at least try to make time to have lunch with friends on occasional weekdays. Try and also make time to take a coffee break to stretch your legs, pop to the local shop for a snack to chat to the barista in your local cafe.
Make sure everything (including you) is insured
Insurance can be expensive when it comes to being self-employed as there is a lot that you need to consider. Depending on the type of business that you have, you will need different types of insurance. This can be a pain, but it is necessary as you don’t want to end up at the centre of a legal dispute should something g go wrong, and you are uninsured.
For example, are you a freelance beautician? Then you’ll be needing public liability insurance in case you accidentally injure a customer during your practices. Are you a dog-walker? Many people don’t realise that even then you’ll need dog walker’s insurance to cover any injury that comes to the dogs in your care, or in case the dog runs away, gets lost or bites someone. Even photographers need specialised insurance to help them cover any broken or stolen equipment used for their business that standard contents insurance won’t cover.
Not only that, but you would be wise to cover yourself with health insurance as well in case you are running a physical labour-based business that could easily result in your injury. While in the UK we have the NHS, treatment can take a lot longer than if you were to go private. The same goes for if you are struggling mentally with the weight of being self-employed – going private can help you get seen much faster. After all, when you’re self-employed, who is going to keep your business going if you are ill for prolonged periods?
Take enough holidays
Full-time workers in the UK are entitled to at least 28 days paid annual leave a year. This is the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holidays every year and is there to ensure that workers are getting enough time off to themselves to balance their working schedule.
This means that if you are working full-time self-employed, you are entitled to at least the same amount of holiday time, and yet, research has shown that self-employed people are only taking 14 days of holiday a year. That’s only half of what they should be taking to balance the amount of work they do.
If you’re self-employed, you should be making sure that you are taking enough holiday time every year – and don’t feel guilty about doing it! Just because you are working for yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to a break. Holidays from work are essential not only for focus and motivation but for ensuring time for mental rest and recalibration.