Starting a business from your living room has never been easier and in the US, 24% of people do some or all of their work at home. But the flipside to this is that working from home isn’t necessarily the easy option – often people drive themselves harder than their erstwhile bosses. So, what are some good routines to help self-employed people avoid burnout?

When I launched my divorce website with my friend Isabelle, we were so excited!

  • We worked every day, trying to upload a new piece of content every day.
  • We set up divorce groups all over the UK and then went to them!
  • We worked til 1 or 2am many nights a week (after our day jobs had finished and kids were in bed).

When the masses did not IMMEDIATELY come to us after all our hard work, we were a tad disheartened!

I got into a cycle of working in front of the TV because otherwise there was no downtime.  So I combined work with a box set and a glass or two of wine. I was neither properly relaxing, nor productively working. Eventually all the late nights and hard work took their toll and I felt burnt out, dispirited and needed a break.

routines to help self-employed people avoid burnout

The problem is with that is that you take some time off and break the rhythm of work. It would then take Isabelle and I about a month to get back on the work wagon and get into a rhythm again.

Better to go slowly and steadily and have some balance in your life. The results make come more slowly, but they will come. If you burn out you run the risk of wanting to give up and then all your hard work goes to waste…

So here are some thoughts about how you can put some routine* in your work at home life and achieve balance, results and NOT the dreaded burnout:

*Don’t let the word routine put you off! Many people find the idea of no routine one of the main perks of working from home. But a routine will help ensure you stay relaxed and healthy while you work. Plus, you don’t have to stick to it all the time.  Think of it as a rough guide or a set of habits to get into.

Routines to help self-employed people avoid burnout?

Working hours

Ok, this might sound a little crazy… After all isn’t one of the main benefits of working from home that you don’t have set hours? While that is true in theory, believe me when I say that taking the ultra-flexible approach of working when you feel like it, is not going to work in the long-term.

You don’t have to do the standard nine to five hours.  In fact, I’d recommend experimenting a little to find the optimum hours for you. If you work well in the morning and evening you could always take a break in the middle of the day.

For me doing websites on TOP of a full time job means I have to find a routine that doesn’t involve working until 2am. So now factor in at least half an hour of work during my daily commute. I have bought a bluetooth keyboard for touch typing.  So I can now write posts or do admin using my phone and a keyboard. It doesn’t beat the long unbroken chunks of work I used to do until 2am, but frankly that wasn’t sustainable.

I am also about to experiment with earlier bedtimes and working first thing in the morning. I’m not naturally a morning person and my 5 year old son may have other ideas!  But having decided I can’t allow sleep to be the first casualty of my side hustles, there has to be another way. I’ll let you know how it goes!

You can set whatever hours you think are best but if they work, try to stick to them. It might take a while for you to adjust so be patient. If you’re really struggling then try something else.

Routines to help self-employed people avoid burnout

Get out of the house

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should never step out. In fact, one thing anyone working from home should do is make sure they leave it! Whether it’s just a short walk outside or a trip to the shops or gym, make sure you set time aside to get out and enjoy some fresh air.

It will:

  • improve your circulation,
  • clear your head,
  • improve your vision by taking your eyes away from a screen
  • and generally help your well being (and productivity).

Set daily goals

Any working-from-home-preneur should have a daily goals list, this will help ensure you stay on track during your working day/week. It will also help ensure you don’t forget anything and don’t get too distracted.

Because I generally have only short bursts of time, I tend to say to myself, “OK, I’ve got an hour. If I can only do ONE THING, what should that thing be?” That tends to focus my mind and make sure I don’t fanny about too much.

It also means that when that period is up, I can genuinely reward myself with a tea or a social event or whatever is appropriate.  I don’t need to feel guilty and I can leave work behind. It’s important not to let work bleed into all the other stuff in your life – the highway to burnout!

 

Balance social activities

If you work at home full-time the ultra-flexibility that working from home offers means you can go and see friends and family whenever you feel like it. Super duper… But if you leave to hang out with friends or spend hours on the phone then you aren’t going to get any work done.

Then when does it get done? Ahem…. 2am finish anyone?

Balance your social life very carefully when working from home, don’t be afraid to be flexible and take advantage of the freedom working from home offers but try to stick to your working hours as much as possible.

Keeping an active social life is important to us screen-bound trogladytes. But you need to ensure your work and social life are in the right proportion or your work deficit can lead you to have to catch up and tire yourself out.

Having said that, don’t go too far the other way! We are social animals and seeing friends and family is brilliant for the soul. Plus conversations with people can often lead to thoughts and sparking off that can positively impact your work. Particularly blogging – we don’t write in a vacuum – it’s important to connect with people to keep your neurons firing!

 

Prepare a lunch and set a lunch time

Your diet is going to take a hit when you work from home, all your food and drink will be close by for one thing. It goes both ways – you could easily end up skipping meals or you could succumb to eating too much.

To help you avoid both these problems you could prepare a lunch at the start of each day and set a time to eat it. Pre-preparing means you are much more likely to make something healthy that you can stick to.

Routines to help self-employed people avoid burnout

You can be flexible with this, why not treat yourself to lunch out for every so often? But the important part again is sticking to the routine of doing this, so you can be sure you always make time to eat a healthy meal.

 

Set up a work space

Working from home is great but it’s also full of distractions.  So you should set up a work space somewhere in your home. Treat it like a mini-office add some plants or motivational posters.  Keep it solely for work, this will help you get into the routine of working from home and with time it will even help you avoid any distractions.

 

You should still take holidays

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you don’t get time off. Schedule holidays like you normally would and don’t be afraid to take a day off every so often if you’re achieving your goals or not feeling well.

Get yourself into a routine, for example, you could work Monday to Friday and then take the weekend off or work alternative patterns every few weeks. Take some to time to experiment and find the routine that is best for you.

So those are a few thoughts about routines to help self-employed people avoid burnout. See what works for you.

Have you also thought about how to set up your work at home space to avoid aches and pains? If not, one of my next posts is on this.  I am looking at ways to reduce the tightness in my shoulders from hunching over a screen!  So watch this space…

Not self employed but want to be?  Check out these ideas for earning money at home here.

routines to help self-employed people avoid burnout