With flexible workers increasingly working harder and longer, wellbeing is often being overlooked. We pulled together our top 5 tips for finding a better balance and unlocking a better you. As the weekend draws to a close, how many can you put into action next week?
Fly with a flock
Life as an independent worker can be quite a lonely and solitary experience. However, with many of the current platforms and main gig-economy employers, there is often the opportunity to get involved in, and become part of, a wider community of peers. This should be embraced as, despite having supportive friends and family, there is something to be said for the support of others that understand exactly what your work entails and the pressures it brings.
Having a peer support group can open you up to somewhere to turn whenever things get difficult, or, even when things get boring. Whilst some see these groups as competition, pushing them to work harder or advance their skills, most benefit more from the camaraderie and collaboration they provide. These days, everyone needs a posse and there are also loads of communities available online but, should you really struggle to find one to join – start one.
Look after yourself
One of the benefits of working flexibly is the ability to find time in the day to those other important things in life: family, life admin, exercise, me time. There are three immediate ways in which looking after yourself can pay dividends.
- It is now well known that the benefits of regular exercise can be lifelong, however for those with demanding and stressful lifestyles, the benefits can be almost immediate. Building regular opportunities to exercise – even if only through taking walks – cannot be overestimated and will make your more productive in the other things you do day by day. Make time for some exercise, no matter how small, and you will not regret it.
- The second important area in which to pay attention is on your diet. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, as anything else and can change the way you feel almost instantly. There are well established links between diet and mental health, between diet and physical health as well as between diet and the onset of stress, diseases and other serious health issues, with poor diets directly and indirectly responsible for more deaths than smoking in the UK. There really is little excuse with the availability of a number of online resources to help build a healthy diet.
- The third area that needs attention is sleep. Many people think of sleep as negative time – a period in which the body does nothing. In reality, during this time, the body performs a number of important functions strengthening, recovering, processing ahead of the next day
Good sleep has a direct relationship with our health overall, as well as links with concentration levels, weight gain, greater risk of heart disease and stroke as well as a higher risk of depression. Prioritising sleep is tremendously important and the internet is awash with information on what is good sleep and how to get it. No excuse.
Be A Master of One
It has been scientifically proven that human beings only really focus on one thing at a time, and so multitasking is a myth. However, when we try to multitask, we are often just exhausting our brains leaving us feeling mentally (and eventually, physically) fatigued. To top it all off, multitasking has been found to lower job satisfaction, hinders creativity and can leave use feeling like we have worked a lot and achieved very little. For freelancers, flexible workers and those that are self-employed, this is all the more important as they can often be switching between tasks, or even jobs, on a regular basis and can be looked at as a hazard to avoid.
Pass It On
As a freelancer or flexible worker, there is clearly something you are good at, but there is value in understanding the things you are either not good at, or be better performed by someone else. Finding ways to outsource the activities that do not suit you allows you to concentrate on the things that matter most – either personally or professionally.
This goes also for using technology to get things done. Accounting, Marketing, Admin, and Customer Support, all of these activities are ripe for outsourcing in order for you to buy back that scarcest of resource: time.
Watch The Clock
The most obvious benefit of working flexibly, is the ability to work the hours that suit you. This is both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, it can be good for securing a great work/life balance as it means you can work hours that work for your lifestyle – e.g. around school hours to be able drop off and pick up kids from school. On the other hand, it can cause havoc for some who struggle to struggle to switch off and end up with little to no balance. This has seen the growth of an ‘always on’ culture impacting workers and their families. By setting clear and strict boundaries you will be able protect the time needed to focus on not only on working, but also on not working.
Furthermore, building in regular breaks in crucial, as they can help keep you focused, motivated and avoid burn out. Our brains are designed for rest every 90 minutes, so Build regular opportunities to put the phone aside, and switch off for a short period. Your brain will thank you.