Self-care for the self-employed

In the 11 years that I’ve been self-employed, I’ve gone through trials and tribulations that an entrepreneur would. I’ve gone from high numbers in my bank account to worried if I was going to pay the rent, from having more clients than I can handle to wondering if anyone will hire me and from thinking my ideas were complete shit to wow, this is going to change my community. I’ve seen it all! I’ve done it all! Well, for now.

Throughout the years I’ve come to realize when I’m my best and when I’m unhappy. I’ve learned what people to surround myself with and who to stay away from. I’ve also learned what I need to do for me so that I can be the best me for my clients, friends, family and my partner. That is what this post is about! I’m taking you through what type of self-care is crucial for the self-employed, and I bet some of these points haven’t even crossed your mind.

Dive in below! I’ve packed it with a lot of information that can help you create the life you’d like to live and a FREE download to track your clients, vendors or form of income you have coming in.

N ° 1 – SOLO TIME
My day begins with solo-time so that I can wake up slowly and not rush into anything. There is nothing worse than being pushed into a day of back to back stressors and not having time to process.

How I Do It
I’ll begin my day with an 8 AM alarm and with a warm shower followed by my skincare routine that doubles as my meditative time. Meditation comes in all forms, and my skincare routine is one of them. It’s a time that I can be centred, entirely focused on me and my thoughts.

I then tidy up the apartment from dishes, laundry, anything that needs to get done so that I can sit down to work with a clean environment. I spend the first hour of my day (if not going to a workout class) doing things for me, including making myself breakfast.

I do my best not to check my phone until 9 AM. Once my hour is over, I’ll step into my home office and begin my workday. Without this solo-time, I feel the stress within the first few hours.

Suggestions: Podcasts, music, read a book.

N ° 2 – PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
There are many critical benefits to physical activity. Allowing your body to move each day improves your happiness, energy levels and brain memory. I encourage anyone self-employed to engage in a regular fitness routine because we can get trapped in the world of to-do’s and deadlines, and there is nobody to hold us accountable but ourselves.

How I Do It
Every Sunday evening, I book my weekly workout classes on the ClassPass app. I currently go 2 – 3 times a week only due to the number of credits that I pay for (I used to go five times a week) and enjoy a mix of Oxygen Yoga & Fitness for pilates fusion and Kondi Fitness for more HIIT training and cardio.

I am not someone who can go to a workout in the evening because, by the time 6 PM rolls around, I’m hungry, tired from the day and want to enjoy my evening. I book an 8 AM or 930 AM class and start my day off right! It leaves me feeling energized, and I accomplished something before my workday.

N ° 3 – SCHEDULING IS ESSENTIAL
Over the last 11 years, I have been able to pin-point where my priorities stand when it comes to the work that I produce. Workweeks and days can become extremely daunting when you haven’t correctly scheduled your time, and I genuinely dislike the word “busy” because I feel it means you have mismanaged your time. We need to stop glorifying being busy!

How I Do It
To start, I use Google Calendar. I place all of my next week’s to-do’s in the Monday column and when I sit down on Monday at 9 AM, I being to process my week. We have seven days to accomplish our tasks, so there is no need to be overworked!

I take my time assessing each task and when it needs to be completed by / how much time I have each day. I begin to move each task into the appropriate day of the week, and then my week isn’t looking crazy!

I’ve also begun to leave myself 1 hour in between each meeting, even a phone call. How many times have you scheduled back to back meetings only to realize that you didn’t have time in between to process what was discussed or to tackle last-minute items that happened during the call? Leave yourself with 45 minutes – 1 hour to process and prep for the next event. If it didn’t fit in today, it could happen tomorrow.

In my early years, I would spend my entire day working because I either really enjoyed the work, or I just wanted to get it done. I’ve found myself to be much more productive and HAPPIER when I give my self-employed self BUSINESS HOURS. Who said independent means you work all the time??? I use my 40 hours workweeks and anything other than could be mismanaged, I’ve taken on too much or a side hustle.

N ° 4 – TIME FOR SOCIALIZING
Socializing can become a lot easier in the summer months because the days are longer, and more people tend to be out and about. In the winter, we get cosy, lazy and cold and don’t wanna do anything. Finding time for socializing is not about balance, its about harmony. Find a way to have them all connect.

How I Do It
My evenings and weekends are not for work. They are for me, family and friends. It’s simple; I limit my socializing to after working hours unless I have lulls in my week where I can meet people for lunch or a day off. This isn’t about fun; it’s about setting boundaries for yourself and the people around you! When you have boundaries, you become more at peace with who you want to spend your time with. Having a social life doesn’t mean being a woman about town, it means feeding your soul with the people who provide you with happiness and you can’t feel that if you’re stressed because you don’t have time for socializing. Sometimes it’s best not to book that social gathering if you know those people are not going to support you. It’s not good to go back to work drained…

N ° 5 – YOUR SURROUNDINGS
The environment in which you work is INCREDIBLY essential to your mental health. In the past, I would use my dining table, bed, or living room as my office because hey, I’m self-employed! No. Please don’t do that. You need boundaries and barriers for work and the rest of your life. When we work from our bed and our couch, we are blurring the lines of relaxation and time to shut-off. Your bed is for sleep, and your furniture is for lounging. Mixing those zones that lead to stress and anxiety because you are associating those unique places with work, even when you aren’t working.

How I Do It
I have a home office with a separate door that opens at 9 AM and closes at 6 PM. I leave all of my work and computers in the office, and they don’t get moved out unless for a particular reason. My office is where I spend 8 hours of my working day most of the time, so I make sure that it’s brightly lit with natural light, windows that can open, clean, decluttered and is a place that makes me happy. About six months ago I had a dark wooden desk that was clunky, and I couldn’t find out why I hated my office so much until I swapped it out for something minimal and white – what a difference that can make!

N ° 6 – OUTSOURCING
Over the years, I’ve dived into personal discoveries of where my strengths shine in my business. I’ve come to realize that I was taking on many tasks that didn’t serve my strengths and the time that I was putting towards the ones that did, fell short or left me tired because I spent all of my time on the other.

How I Do It
I’ve brought on team members that can assist me and whose strengths complement mine. For all of the work that I am not an expert at, or don’t have time to take on, I’ve been able to outsource it other creatives who can. This helps me build out my team while staying above water AND providing work to others.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR SELF-CARE FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED

  • If you use a phone for work, I suggest you find a second phone. My work phone is an old iPhone that doesn’ thave data that I had from years ago, and it’s the one that I use for all of my client’s social media work. How can you detach from your job if your phone is full of your client’s content? Seeing it every day is a constant reminder that you need to do something when you don’t. Leave the work on a separate phone and leave that phone in the office when you’re done with it. Don’t take it out with you after working hours and not having the data on it can help with this!
  • Using double screens helps with efficiency and eye-sight. I use my regular laptop for typing and files and extend it to the second screen double the size, so it’s not a strain on my vision.
  • Drink water… I am SO bad about this. I can go for 6 hours and not realize I haven’t sipped water all day. Have a glass of water at your desk and set reminders to drink if you’re anything like me!
  • When you can’t focus, walk away from your work and come back when you’re ready. Take as much time as you need. Sometimes, I need to walk around the apartment, staring out the window and pet the cats and I’m good.
  • Eat proper meals, three times a day and don’t forget to stock the cabinets with healthy snacks. I make sure to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and snack in between.

I use this spreadsheet to track all of my client (potential and current) income and it’s been the BEST help. I received the idea from a business coach and I’m passing it onto you. All you need to do is click the photo and sign-up for the CIEL Creative Marketing email. It will be sent straight to your inbox. Enjoy!

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