When you’re self-employed, everything depends on you, so you need to take care of yourself. You are the entire workforce from the janitor all the way up through every level to the CEO. You’re the human resources department, the marketing team and customer service. You’re all of it, so don’t work so hard that you burn out.
That’s pretty much the entirety of what I wanted to talk about today, but I’m going to elaborate anyway. When I started doing Odd-Job work, my entire body would hurt after just two hours of pulling up weeds and planting. I knew though that it was just because I wasn’t used to the work though, and I pushed through it. I knew that as my work load gradually increased, I would become fitter and better able to handle it.
I was right, but only because I made sure that I took a break when my body needed it and got plenty of sleep when I got home. I had to treat it like a workout at the gym. Plenty of protein in my diet to help my muscles build up, and staying hydrated while on the job. Clients often help with this last part by offering a cup of tea!
If the clients are pushing you to work harder, or to put more hours in than you can manage, you have to say, ‘no’. If they can’t handle that, they may threaten to give the job to someone else. Let them. There’s plenty of work to go around, and your mental health is just as important as your physical wellbeing. They can go be a bully to someone else.
You’re going to need to take time off occasionally. When you’re helping lots of people, you’re going to catch a few bugs. Especially if weather is warm and damp. Which it has been recently here in Wales. I’ve had to take over a week off to really get over the infection. It can be difficult when your income is so directly dependent on working to give yourself the time you need without feeling guilty, but you have to be kind to yourself.
You don’t necessarily have to be physically ill either. You might just be having a bad day emotionally, for whatever reason, and just need to take a personal day. Luckily for me, most of the time when I’m having a bad day, it’s raining too much to do any gardening work anyway, and since gardening is mostly what people ask me to do, rainy days usually give me a day off anyway.
Hopefully you won’t be taking time off for an injury. You need to be safe at work, which is part of the reason you shouldn’t be working while feeling sick. Feeling ill affects your focus and concentration, making it much easier to hurt yourself, and if you hurt yourself badly enough, you might never be able to work again. Be careful.
I’m not trying to scare you off. I’m saying you should go for it. Go do the thing and push yourself to work at it even harder. Just also be aware that you’re not a disposable member of the workforce. You’re the ONLY member of the workforce, and you need to take care of yourself.
I personally recommend working no more than 30 hours per week, giving yourself weekends off, and making sure you take breaks every two hours, including an hour for lunch. It also helps if you’re putting a little of your money away so that you can take days off without hurting too badly financially.
If you push yourself too hard and find yourself working too many hours for too little money, then you may as well be working for a company, instead of yourself. If being self-employed isn’t giving you a better life than working for an employer, then you need to take a look at how you’re treating yourself, and maybe your client list, and then make some changes.
I hope this has been helpful. If you need more detailed and specific advice, just ask me. Have a great day.