By Jacqui Rudd from The Maker Edit

When you’re your own boss self-care should be viewed as an essential tool for self-management and improved work performance. It’s easy to forget about it until you’re burnt out or ill, especially when you’re constantly trying to be at your ideal level of productivity, but self-care is not only productive but necessary for optimum efficiency. Here are six self-care tips with practical tasks for a healthy hustle:

Sleep – create boundaries and set bedtime

Entrepreneurs who wear exhaustion like a badge of pride do not display discipline and productivity, it’s a person on the edge of burnout and showing a concerning lack of self-directed kindness. Sleep is essential for living, it’s simply not worth sacrificing. 

Task: Set boundaries for yourself, prioritise your needs by giving yourself a bedtime and wind down routine which will support your mental and physical health. This could include some stretching, meditation, skincare, reading or creative activity that helps you relax. 

Food – Meal planning and prep

Skipping meals because you’re too busy or don’t have enough time to prepare, or simply eating at your desk is not helpful, it’s hindering you. Give your mind and body the energy you need, don’t slip into fatigue or brain fog because you didn’t prioritise food. 

Task: Create a weekly meal plan. Cook larger dinners to purposefully prep an easy lunch for the next day or prep bulk meals on weekends for the week, add in favourite dishes and meals that you’re excited about.

Be Organised – Plan Your Time Effectively 

No plan is a perfect way to make you feel anxious through a lack of preparation or clarity. Being organised is a great skill for stress management but it’s also helpful for keeping momentum and staying motivated.

Task: Block out time every week for planning, considering short term tasks as well as long term direction and what goals you want to reach, book time to reflect and celebrate your achievements along the way. 

Focus – Keep Your Goals In Sight

If you are a creative person you’re also likely a visual person and keeping your goals and progress on display by your workspace can be helpful for giving yourself a reminder that you are on track and will keep you focussed on your aspirations.

Task: Create a visual reminder of your progress and goals, whether that is a mood board, wall calendar, printed affirmations or goal timeline with tasks. Make it something that you find motivating, consider adding colour and personal touches and make it into a fun activity as well as productive. 

Take Breaks – For Stress-Management 

A lot of people avoid taking breaks, especially in the middle of a piece of work, but taking breaks is shown to be important for recovering from stress, improving performance, helping energy levels, supporting better work life balance and avoiding burnout. So although at that moment you might not want to take a break because you’re in a productive zone, it is proven to help your long-term wellbeing and ability to do your job.

Task: Agree on break times, set an alarm to prompt you to start your break. Plan something to do over lunch such as going for a walk, reading a book, meeting a friend, doing something that you enjoy so that you are motivated to take your break time. Make a note of all the benefits you feel from taking breaks and how it will help your performance in the long term.

Celebrate – Reflect and Reward Yourself

Celebrating your achievements can help with motivation, keeping up momentum but it also helps as a reminder to reflect on how far you’ve come. Reflecting on your journey as someone who is self-employed allows us to check in on how we’re meeting our values, how we’re reaching for our career ambitions and whether we’re going in the right direction.

Task: Set monthly meetings with yourself to reflect on progress, celebrate small and big achievements and reward yourself however you’d like. I used to have my monthly meeting in a cafe with a favourite cake but over lockdown that changed to journaling followed by skincare pampering and when there was a big win I got a takeaway.

Being self-employed isn’t all about the hustle, manage yourself with compassion and create a work-life balance that is tailored to your needs.