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3 golden rules for a less stressful self-employed working life

4-minute read

3 golden rules for a less stressful self-employed working life
Lauren Hellicar

Lauren Hellicar

18 September 2018

With World Mental Health Day 2018 just around the corner, we reflect on some of the business-related challenges faced by self-employed people and how you can make your working life less stressful.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Research findings show that the most stressful type of work is that which values excessive demands and pressures that are not matched to workers’ knowledge and abilities, where there is little opportunity to exercise any choice or control, and where there is little support from others.”

We’ve taken the WHO’s findings and picked out the most important things for people who work for themselves to focus on for better work-life balance and an easier life.

1. Stick to what you’re good at

If you’ve been brave and hard-working enough to start your own business, it’s most likely focused on something you know you’re good at. After all, if you have to live off the profits, you need to be confident you can make a success of it.

Whether you’re in construction, beauty therapy, or dog walking, clearly you need skills specific to your specialist area. However, it’s important not to neglect more business-focused skills, such as bookkeeping and marketing.

But what if they're not areas of strength for you? How do you stop these essential business-related tasks from becoming a headache and interfering with you doing what you do best?

You delegate.

Accounting expertise

If accounting isn’t your forte, hire an accountant, or sign up for one of the many easy-to-use online accounting software packages. The time you save and stress you avoid will almost certainly be worth the money you spend.

And if you’re in the accounting business, there are probably other skills you’re not so sure of. For example, you may need administrative help to keep on top of your paperwork. Little Miss Office, SmartPA, and Time Etc. are just a few of the many virtual assistant options you can find online.

Marketing assistance

Getting your business brand in order is another area that may require expert help. From your website and social media accounts to your printed advertising, maintaining a professional image is proven to boost business. But it can be time-consuming and stressful if you’re not up-to-speed on how it all works.

Read our articles about the key online marketing concepts for small businesses and small business advertising ideas to help you get started.

If you still feel like you need help, consider hiring a specialist. Or if that’s beyond your budget, you can do a lot just by using one of the useful tools on the internet for managing your social media posts and shares, such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social.

2. Establish your boundaries

No matter how good you are at what you do, if your personal life and work life are all muddled together, it’s almost impossible for your self-employed business to reach its full potential – or for you to have enough downtime.

Establishing your boundaries is not only key to the success of your business, it's also vital to stop you from burning out.

Set your working hours

Decide what your working hours will be and stick to them to the best of your ability. Of course, things may come up from time to time that you'll need to deal with, but the vast majority of the time this should be a hard and fast rule.

If you never switch off and relax, you’ll never be able to recharge to your full capacity. Consider snoozing your work emails during your days off and for set times overnight, and having a separate work mobile, which you can switch off or divert to voicemail.

Define your work space

If you work at home, it’s worth defining your business space and making sure your family or flat mates know not to disturb you while you’re ‘at work’. The longer they leave you alone to get on with your working day, the sooner you’ll be free to spend time with them.

You could make a sign for the door of the room you work in to make extra sure they know that now isn’t social time.

3. Build and maintain your support network

Self-employment can make for a lonely existence. That’s why it’s important to proactively stay connected to others – especially if you work home alone rather than go out to work with other people.

Consider co-working space

Even if you like your own company and find great focus from working solo, signing up for a co-working space could benefit you and your business.

Besides spending time with others being good for our mental health, co-working is a great way to connect with and bounce ideas around with other professionals who do something similar to you or have skills which complement yours.

Networking not for you?

Attending networking events can be some people’s worst nightmare, and if that’s you, that’s ok. But if you’ve never tried, how do you know? It’s worth giving it a go – you never know who you’ll meet or what partnerships and ideas could be struck up.

Modern ways of working and technology can make switching off extremely difficult for all workers – especially the self-employed. But taking time out to relax is key to maintaining your physical and mental health so you can give your best to your business.

Do you run your own business? What are your top tips for managing your stress levels? Let us know in the comments below.

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