February 16, 2021

How to switch off as a freelancer

Written by Martin Baxter

While “flexibility” might be the big buzzword in the industry, freelancers have often found that the boundaries between work and their personal life can blur. With coronavirus restrictions still keeping us at home, it can be even harder than usual to switch off. Mental health experts are increasingly worried about burnout, as more of us work longer hours without a break, and without the escapism of socialising and leisure activities that we would usually do outside the home. Analysis has shown that we are all working longer days as we work from home – with the average working day having extended by up to two hours according to some studies. But overwork can lead to stress, anxiety, depression and burnout, so it’s really important to make sure you take care of yourself by having a break from work. Otherwise, you might see this start to manifest itself in symptoms like trouble sleeping, feeling on edge all the time, or having mood swings. Here are Dinghy’s top tips for how freelancers can make sure they take time for themselves in lockdown. 

Work set hours 

Working set hours means that you’re not tempted to let work invade time that you have set aside for rest and relaxation, or time spent with your family. Many people will find this difficult, particularly if you’re also juggling other commitments like homeschooling, during the working day. It doesn’t have to be 9-5 – just whatever hours work for you, your family and your projects. You can even pop these working hours in your email signature or out of office autoreply so that clients know not to expect a response until you’re back in “work time”. It takes a bit of discipline and courage to stick to set working hours, but it will do wonders for your work-life balance. 

Have a separate workspace 

Before COVID, one of the great joys of freelancing was that you could work from anywhere – your bed, snuggled under a blanket on the sofa, or from your favourite coffee shop. But now that we’re forced into working from home as a way of life, things might need to change. If you have the space at home, set up a dedicated workspace with a desk and an ergonomic chair – ideally not in the room that you relax and sleep. This will prevent you from getting aches and pains from working in poor positions. But, best of all, at the end of your working day, you’ll be able to shut the door on the stresses and demands of work, and focus on winding down. 

Go for a walk 

Yes, the weather is terrible, yes, you’re bored of all the streets surrounding your house, yes, you should still go for that stupid little walk. Our physical activity levels have taken a massive dip during lockdown three, and exercise gets us away from our computers and out experiencing some fresh air and vitamin D, all of which have proven health benefits. There are things you can do to make that same old walk more exciting: put your headphones on and listen to your favourite playlist, have a socially distanced exercise meet-up with a friend, or make yourself a cup of coffee in a travel mug to sip as you walk around. If you have too much work to cram into your daylight hours, consider making one of your meetings a walking meeting – step away from the dreaded Zoom screen and take it as a phone call in the fresh air – and encourage your clients or colleagues to do the same. They’ll probably thank you for it! 

Take some time off 

Again, we know our freelancers struggle to take holidays at the best of times. When work is busy, you just don’t want to say no. And this intensifies in lockdown, where it feels like there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do anyway. It’s really tempting to just keep on working. But our brains and bodies still need the rest and recuperation time that a holiday gives – and a change of scene and routine. So jetting to Dubai is probably out of the question for most of us right now, but a long weekend of countryside walks and watching Netflix in our PJs? Count us in! If you have young kids, it’s a chance to give them a break from homeschooling too and just spend time enjoying some of the simpler things in life: playing in the garden, building Lego, and then sticking a film on that you can snuggle up and watch together. 

Don’t forget, if you have Dinghy freelance insurance, one of the key benefits is that you can switch your cover on and off, as our cover is flexible and billed by the second. Once you’ve planned in that long, lazy weekend, just log in and at the click of a button you can put your insurance into holiday mode, saving you money. Just one of the ways in which we look after our freelancers – because your health and wellbeing are important to us. Go and grab that calendar now and schedule your staycation! If you still need to set up your business insurance, visit our website for a quick quote or give us a call on 0116 380 5654. 

About Martin Baxter

Read more blog posts by Martin Baxter


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