There are so many parts of self-employment that can be challenging – there’s sometimes less stability, you assume more risk and responsibility personally, insurance can cost a lot…we could go on. But we won’t because right now, it’s time to focus on what is awesome about self-employment – which is also a long list. Of the endless number of things that are spectacular about working for yourself, here is our top list of self-employment perks, some of which you might not have thought about before, but should definitely be taking advantage of.
1. Mix up your work environment
Depending on what kind of business you do, this may or may not apply to you. But for a great many people, self-employment comes down to, simply, a person and their laptop. If this is true for you, we strongly encourage you to take advantage for your portable workspace as much as you can. Go to a coffee shop, or even a bar, and work through happy hour! And think bigger: you can travel and take your work with you. While we absolutely understand the benefit to working in one environment that has been carefully put together for maximum comfort, focus and productivity, there’s still a lot to be said for mixing it up. New surroundings stimulate your brain in different ways. So stay in your home office most days if that’s what works for you, but if you find yourself stonewalled by a problem, or in a mental rut, it’s time to let that mobility work for you.
2. Have “really casual” Friday
It’s true: you could realistically be as casual as you want on most days when you’re self-employed. Sure, you still have meetings and appointments outside the house sometimes, but for the most part, you enjoy the freedom to dress how you want while working. That said, any smart home-employed person knows that going through the process of showering and getting dressed actually does a hell of a lot to wake your brain up – and so they do just that, every day, which we think is absolutely the way to go. Our advice? Once a week, dress down just because you can.
Oh, and at least once, don’t wear pants during a video conference. Just do it. Be professional from the waist up, but totally sans pants below the camera’s view. Trust us, it’s hilarious.
3. Take a half-day
At the start of each week, take a look at your calendar. Maybe there’s something already on there that you need to find time to do, like a conference at your child’s school, or a dentist appointment. Whatever it is, go ahead and plan on taking off the rest of that morning or afternoon. Just do it. Do it far enough ahead of time that you can shuffle meetings and deadlines by a few hours or to another day that week. Doing this will free you up to complete your non-work errand without feeling rushed, and give you a little bonus time to have lunch with a friend, go for a walk, or run some other personal mid-week errands that you might not have otherwise had time for. Also, you can always make up the hours by lightly working on Sunday nights. Speaking of which…
4. Steal Sunday nights
This is one of our favorite self-employment tricks (although honestly, anyone could take advantage of it, but usually they don’t.) Use Sunday nights to plan your week, organize your schedule, prioritize tasks heading into the coming week, and generally get yourself as fully equipped as possible to jump into work on Monday morning very prepared to actually start working. While the rest of the world is spending the first few hours of Monday waking up and figuring out what’s what for the week, you’re getting a solid head start. And the real secret: Sunday night working can actually be incredibly cozy and pleasant; you’re really just doing a little organizing, arranging, reflecting, and preparing – these are all very mentally clarifying, relaxing activities that will make you feel a bit more productive, and infinitely more focused and calm when you go to bed that night.
5. Replace a long commute with something enjoyable
While the rest of the world has to sit in traffic every morning and afternoon, you have the luxury of competing with no one (okay, maybe your cat) on the very short trip to your desk. While many self-employed people opt to take advantage of this extra hour or two by simply getting more work done – and we’re not saying that’s a bad idea – but consider using the time to do something healthy or energizing for yourself. Maybe a half hour of yoga before sitting down to your desk with some tea to start your morning? Maybe an early morning run? Or perhaps just an extra long shower and a healthy breakfast. How you start your morning completely determines how productive you’re going to be during the rest of the day. Too many people simply don’t have the time to do the healthy things that would give them sustainable energy and nourish their bodies and brains, but self-employed people have the benefit of being about to carve out those extra minutes. And really, don’t think of it as indulgent or irresponsible – starting your day off on such a solid note is an investment in better work later.
6. Tax benefits
There are quite a few tax benefits that go along with being self-employed. Do yourself a favor and make sure you’re fully aware of all of them before tax season. After all, for all the perks of self-employment, there’s often a lot of financial risk involved; might as well make up for it where you can.