Welcome to another New Year! I hope 2017 turns out to be better than your 2016 whether it was good or bad. 2016 was certainly a year of changes. we had two political shocks. First, The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU and Donald Trump won a shock Presidential election. Post-truth became OED’s Word of the Year. and we lost countless celebrities.
For most, Christmas and New Year is a time to relax, recover and prepare for the next year. As freelancers, especially if December has been our busiest time of the year (and it has for me every year without fail since I started this job), we need to recover from the hectic work pattern.
I know it’s not easy to wind down as a freelancer. Because we don’t get paid leave and are only paid for work we produce, it’s tempting to work through and take as little time off as possible. This is quite possibly the worst thing you could do for several reasons.
It’s Good For Your Stress Levels
We’ve become rather addicted to work in the western world. “Workaholic” is a word that does not quite have the negative connotation it deserves. We are not getting enough sleep and not enough good quality sleep. We have known for decades the importance of relaxing and taking a break from our daily routines. It’s the reason most developed countries are now legally obliged to offer paid holidays. Some people use mindfulness techniques, and although they are good for anxiety and other low-level mental illness, the benefits for our general well-being is immeasurable. You don’t need to suffer from anxiety to benefit from mindfulness.
It’s Good For Your Physical Health
We also know that stress can affect our physical health too. Stress affects our sleep patterns and when we don’t sleep, we open ourselves to all manner of physical health problems. When on the outside looking in, it’s the natural assumption that freelancing takes a lot of discipline. Well, it does, but a bigger challenge than motivation is knowing when to stop. The “not being able to stop” leads to fatigue. The more you push yourself, the more you leave yourself open to illness. Again, it’s a reason employers are obliged to offer mandatory time off for their employees and a reason you should give yourself time off.
It’s Good For Your Concentration
When are you most alert? Is it, like most of us, first thing in the morning? When are you least alert? Is it, like most of us, at the end of an 8 hour work day? You will also find that you are more productive in the days and weeks following a relaxing holiday and least productive when it’s been some time since you really wound down. That’s human nature. I feel I make more errors and work slower when I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. As a freelancer, you will need to do it sometimes but don’t make a habit of it. Ensure you take a break when things go quiet again.
It’s Good For Your Relationships
Take some time out, spend time with family, friends and other people close to you. Nobody on their deathbed ever said: “I really wish I had spent more time in the office.” Many relationships have fizzled out (not just romantic relationships, but friendships too) because one person was too busy to make the time for the other person. Loneliness is a cross to bear for the work from home freelancer – after all, you don’t generally have the human contact that you would in an office environment. So, don’t neglect your personal relationships.
All it remains for me to say is Happy New Year and I wish you all the best in your freelancing ventures for the year ahead.