A happy and healthy freelancer is usually a productive freelancer. A big part of being productive as a freelance professional is making sure you look after the health of your mind and body. When you feel good physically and mentally, then your levels of focus and productivity naturally improve.
Most freelancers work from home or in an office. Long hours of sitting hunched in front of a computer can negatively affect your mindset and bodily wellbeing. By incorporating certain healthy habits into your freelance routines, you can help yourself avoid common workday problems like lethargy and muscle pain. In so doing, you also feel more energized and ready to face your workload.
We’ve collected together some of our favorite ways to feel physically healthier and mentally reinvigorated during a typical busy day. They’re perfect for freelancers and solopreneurs but are also fantastic habits to get into for all hardworking professionals.
1 Get physical
Regular exercise brings numerous benefits to our bodies, including our minds. The increased heart rate brought about by physical activity pumps more oxygen to the brain. Certain hormones are also released which contribute to the growth of new connections between brain cells. Overall, regular exercise improves memory, helps concentration, and reduces stress.
To do: Schedule 45 minutes each day – or every other day – to walk, run, cycle or swim before sitting down to work. What the activity is, doesn’t really matter, as long as you feel out of breath and your muscles are tired.
2 Develop a nutrition plan
The food we consume can have a big impact on our focus and energy levels. Too much processed sugar can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes which destroy concentration. Eating a heavy meal at lunchtime can cause lethargy in the afternoon. Too little protein or vitamins can also negatively affect our levels of focus.
To do: Research and develop a healthy eating plan. Schedule what you need to eat every work day and when. Buy the healthy ingredients at the start of each week and create meals which are nutritious and beneficial to mental focus, emotional balance, and physical health.
3 Take regular short breaks
Our brains can’t focus on one task for hours on end. Sometimes we get into what is known as a flow of concentration – “the zone” – where we are completely absorbed in what we are doing but even this doesn’t last that long. In order to make the most of these flows of ultra-concentration, we need to take regular breaks to refresh and refocus our minds.
To do: Set a timer and every 45 to 60 minutes take a 10 or 15-minute break. During these breaks focus on something completely different to the previous work task. If you’re working at a computer, then try to take a rest from looking at any screens. Maybe do some simple exercises, take a little walk, or make a cup of coffee.
4 Regulate social media usage
Social media is ubiquitous and it’s hard to avoid especially when you’re a freelancer or solopreneur. Social media platforms can be a great marketing and learning tool but when you get addicted to checking the latest updates and messages, this can interfere with your focus, productivity, and energy levels.
To do: Set predetermined times when you will check and update your social media platforms. Perhaps just twice a day and for less than 15 minutes each session. You can schedule status updates in advance using specialist tools.
5 Avoid slouching at the computer
Sitting slouching at your desk, day after day, can cause a number of health issues. Most notably are problems associated with poor posture and lack of movement. Pelvic tilt issues can arise from too much sitting, which is where your butt begins to stick out abnormally and as a result, cause back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders.
To do: As mentioned before, take regular breaks from your desk. During these breaks stand up, move around, and do some stretching exercises. Also consider the benefits of using a standing desk for part of your day. When you do sit, keep the back straight and avoid slumping. This helps your focus and energy levels as well.
6 Set a strict ‘stop work’ time
A fast way to reach burnout is by working all hours of the day. At the beginning of your freelance career you might need to work more hours than you would prefer but once established, working long hours can be extremely counterproductive. It can also be damaging to mental and physical health, as well as your relationships.
To do: Choose a set hour each day when you finish work and close the door to your home office. This will help you to define the boundaries of your workday which can increase your focus and productivity. Set hours also help you differentiate between work life and home life, which is especially beneficial if you work from home.
7 Find ways to work less and earn more
When you see a whole mountain of work in front of you – a lot of which is mundane and repetitive – it’s all too easy to feel utterly despondent. That’s why it’s important, as soon as possible, to find ways to streamline your workflow. There are many ways to automate and delegate tasks such as social media updates and bookkeeping. There are also numerous app integrations which can help with your project management and invoicing.
To do: At least once a week, incorporate a new time/project management technique which allows you to work that tiny bit faster and, as a result, earn more money, while perhaps working a little less.
Be a healthy and happy freelancer
For freelance professionals, healthy and energizing habits are more than just taking a little exercise and eating well. They also involve making leaps forward in your career development and time management. When you see a higher income and you spend less time working on agonizingly boring tasks, then you’re naturally going to wake up with a spring in your step, ready to start work.
Make it a habit to always be searching for ways to streamline your work processes. This will allow you to take extra time for yourself to exercise, enjoy nature, prepare delicious healthy meals, spend time with loved ones, and ultimately, to relax and reenergize.