Until very recently I was a part of the “gig economy,” along with millions of Americans in my age group. The experience was exciting, but if I’m being completely honest it was also terrifying. The stress of finding work – consistent work – and being able to earn a living wage is something I could write an entire essay on. For now, however, there are plenty of other great articles out there on this subject already (including Why Freelancers Are So Depressed by Anya Kamentez). Instead, I want to share some of the healthy habits I cultivated while leading an on-again-off-again work life.
Being a freelancer can be fun and rewarding, but also exhausting, depressing, and isolating. Because my work was inconsistent, when I wasn’t on a gig I often found myself feeling unmotivated, frustrated, and lonely. In order to overcome that hurdle, I needed to create positive habits, which I wish I would have realized earlier. So for the days when you don’t have a gig, or if you work freelance from home, here’s my advice for achieving happier, more fruitful days:
PS: I’ve thrown in a few dog gifs for fun!
→ Don’t sleep in
If you’re like me, sleeping in will throw off your entire day. Getting up later means less time to be productive, but also less time for yourself. When I get up early I have the chance to make coffee, read, relax, and get my morning started peacefully, which makes a world of difference throughout the rest of my day. You may have the time to sleep in, but trust me – don’t do it!
→ Go for a walk
Working from home or spending long amounts of time inside can be a complete bummer. Whenever I’m feeling down for any reason, I get up and go for a walk around my neighborhood. Sometimes I call home, other times I listen to a podcast or music, but often I just walk without my headphones in and think about things. Going for a walk is a great way to clear your mind and also get in some physical activity. And physical activity is also important for your mental health and productivity!
→ Get out of your pajamas
This is something I didn’t start doing until recently, and the result was surprisingly impactful. My “aha moment” came when I was watching the sixth episode of Queer Eye (🙌), which features Remy, who works from home and pretty much lived in his gym clothes. Tan (oh wonderful, beautiful Tan!) explained to Remy how important it is for people who work at home to dress nicely in order to boost their confidence and delineate between work life and home life. I decided to try this theory out and I admittedly felt better about myself and my abilities immediately. When I was at home and not working a gig, I made sure to get out of my pajamas, and as a result I was more proactive about finding new work.
If you need more reasons to get out of your PJ’s at home, read What Happened When I Dressed Up to Work From Home for a Week by Stephanie Vozza.
→ Be consistent
If you’re getting up early, going for walks, and dressing up while at home, be sure to be consistent. Without consistency, none of these new practices will become habitual. And in order to have a lasting impact on your work life, and personal life, it’s essential that you create positive habits.
→ Have fun
In order to work from home or survive periods of no work, you must have fun sometimes. This means rewarding yourself from time to time (or every day if you want) and going easy on yourself if you have an off day.
→ Exercise and eat healthy
For the longest time I was not exercising or eating particularly healthy. If you work from home or aren’t working, you likely have the time to plan and prepare healthy meals for your week. Slowing down and taking time to make your food can be a relaxing ritual, and is the best way to be sure that you’re treating your body as well as you can. And daily activity is essential for anyone who is working at home! As someone who spends a lot of time on my computer, once I decided to start exercising consistently, my entire outlook changed. I began to feel more confident in myself, and more in-tune with my body’s needs. When you’re cooped up at home, it’s especially important to get out and exercise. I recommend taking classes at a gym because it’s an opportunity to get in a quick, intense workout, and also be around other people.
→ Get creative
What I love about working gigs is that every week is different from the next. So when I don’t have a gig and I’m at home, I’ve found that it’s crucial for me to listen to music, draw, and write. If I’m not exploring some sort of creative outlet, I’m often disappointed that I’m not working, instead of feeling fulfilled in my personal life and getting excited for my next job.
→ Establish goals
Just like working a “traditional” job, it’s important that you have an idea of where you want your current path to take you next. As a freelancer your work is what you make of it, which can be both satisfying, and difficult. In order to be as successful as possible in your given field, it’s important that you set both short and long-term work goals, as well as personal goals.
→ Make plans
Being home alone all day is isolating, so it’s important that you make plans throughout your week. If most of the people you know work 9-5 jobs, then make plans to get lunch nearby their work. If you have friends that freelance too, meet up with them when their schedules allow it. If you both work on your laptops, maybe once a week get together with that friend and work from their home, or at a coffee shop. And make plans for the evenings too – go to a reading at a bookstore, a concert, or get dinner and drinks with an old friend. Evening plans also give you something to look forward to during the day!
→ Get comfortable with yourself
Being alone often requires that you are self-aware and in-tune with your feelings. For example, I know that when I’m working on my own schedule, my productivity and inspiration comes in waves. That means that if I’m feeling especially inspired at 1 AM, I go with it. And if I’ve spent all day at home and can tell that I’m heading towards a mental block, I head to a coffee shop for a change of scenery. When I’ve been sitting for too long and am beginning to feel restless, I go outside for a bit. I listen to my mind and body, and take action accordingly.
→ Leave the house whenever possible
Being alone in your home can be enjoyable, but after a while it may also become stifling. I do my best work when I’m spending some time at home, and occasionally working at a coffee shop or with a friend at their home. In order to not get bored, I try to mix things up and get out as much as possible. Sometimes, simply running a few errands can lighten your mood when you’ve been inside all day.
Do you work at home or spend time at home when you don’t have a gig? Let me know in the comment section below what healthy habits you’ve created in order to stay motivated and productive.