Being your own boss – that’s the dream, right? No one else calling the shots, breathing down your neck, taking credit for your work. But it also means no one’s helping you delegate, serving as a sounding board, covering for you when you’re sick or on vacation. When everything depends on you, it can be hard to not let work take over your life.
Here’s the thing though – there will always be another gig, another fare, but you only get one life. Check out these tips to help you make time for life, while still taking care of business.
Not everyone is wired the same, and no one knows you like you, so use that knowledge to your advantage. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Plan your hardest, most challenging work for the time of day when you know you’re most productive, whenever that is. What makes you happy? TV, good food, time with friends or family? Use that as a motivator rather than a distraction. Set goals and don’t let yourself watch XYZ show or meet up with your friends until the work is done. And when the work is done, don’t let anything distract you from your reward.
Set Limits & Stick to Them
This might be the most important one of all, because as an independent worker, if you don’t set limits, no one else is going to. Decide exactly how much work you really need/want to do and then stop once that work is done. It’s okay to say no. And when you’re not working, don’t work! In our hyper-connected world this is hard for everyone, especially independent workers. Used to be you worked in an office all day, but when you left the office at night or on the weekend, that was it, no more working. With smartphones and e-mail and text messages and WhatsApp (the list goes on and on), this isn’t true anymore. Now it’s up to you to shut that metaphorical office door and say, “It can wait until tomorrow.”
Finally, be sure to take vacation, real, true vacations where you step away from work for an extended period of time. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s actually good for you professionally as well as personally. In a way, we’re not that different from a battery – we all need to recharge once in a while.
While it’s true that technology is, in large part, responsible for blurring the line between work and life, the flip side of the coin is that there are a lot of great tools now to help us do our jobs better and faster.
Take Lili for example. If you’ve been an independent worker for a while, then chances are that you have spent hours, probably even days, sifting through receipts and cataloging all your deductible expenses. It’s important, but tedious. With Lili the process takes seconds – think of all the time you’ll save. No matter what kind of work you do, there are likely other tools out there that can help as well. Take a sec to look around – it could pay off in spades.
Cover Your Six
You may be an independent worker, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. Seek out other people who do what you do, online or in person. No matter what you do, there is almost certainly a Facebook Group or Meet Up for people who do the same thing, and having people to turn to when you need advice or help is invaluable.
Lili is here to help too. This blog is designed to be a collaborative space for the Lili community to learn and connect. Not to mention that the Lili app is designed to act as your personal financial assistant – keeping an eye on things for you and offering advice to help you manage and maximize the living you make with automatic alerts, smart insights and more.
Take Care of #1
The old adage “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything” can sound trite, but if you’ve ever been laid up and unable to work, you know how true it is. Taking a little bit of time every day to keep your mind and body healthy will not only keep you in commission, it can also make you stronger, faster and sharper so you can work (and play) better. You know the basic rules. At least 7 hours of sleep a night, 20 minutes of exercise a day, but as we all know, actually meeting these goals is harder than it sounds. When possible build exercise into your day – walk, take the stairs, do squats while you’re on a call – every little bit counts. If 20 minutes a day sounds too hard, think about blocking out just 1 hour, two days a week and knock it all out at once. Sleeping of course is easier to do, but many of us still find it hard to make the time for a full 7 hours. Be sure you’re turning off all screens an hour before bed, you’ll be able to fall asleep faster. And for days when you come up short, trying doing a quick meditation during the day as a stop-gap. Don’t be intimidated, it’s easier than it sounds, and it can have a lot of the same restorative effects as sleep in less time. Check out apps that will talk you through it like Headspace or Calm.