• Jenny Stallard

Switching 'off-off' when you're self-employed

You’ve heard of going ‘out-out’, right? OK, so I know at the moment that’s pretty tricky, but the idea is that when you go ‘out-out’, you are bells and whistles ‘out’. You’re party shoes and sequins, you’re looking for a big, late, fun night.

The same goes for staying ‘in-in’. No bra (!), loungewear, Netflix on repeat and a takeaway.

And this got me thinking about switching ‘off off’. Because, as freelancers, I don’t think we do switch ‘off off’ enough. By that, I mean not checking emails or social media, not engaging with anything to do with work and even not speaking about work!

This first came to me when I was thinking about taking a break over Christmas and New Year 2020/2021. But as January dawns, it still feels really relevant. Just because we’re back at work – well, most of us, I know some will be juggling the home schooling and perhaps on furlough – doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful to make the most of the time we’re not working.

Whether that’s evenings, weekends, or a day of the week we’ve allocated as a day off.

I shared some ways to manage this on Instagram in December, and I want to share them here too as they really resonated for people:

Make the out of office work HARD for you

What does your OOO say when you set it? Is it just that you're not available? It needs to say sooo much more! Include links to your site, your newsletter or your social media. Use it as a chance to say 'Here's what else I do'. Offer suggestions of how someone can work with you when you are available.

Turn off ALL notifications for email and social media

Because we all know that saying you won't check it is often thwarted by the ping of a notification! I turned mine off on the advice of two podcast guests - Steve Folland and Hilda Burke. I also moved my icons for social to the second page of my phone screen so I have to scroll to get to them.

Work out what’s a ‘must do’ and what can wait.

When you're 'off off', there will still be freelance tasks on your mind. Having a 'must do' list before you have the time off can help. It shows what HAS to be done, and then the other list, well, that can wait for when you're back at your desk.

Tidy up, tidy away...

Leave the office/kitchen table/spare bed/sofa in a 'non work state'. Put the computer away, turn off screens, tidy things up so it's not staring at you saying 'tidy me!'

Do something non-worky

So you've got the time off, you've done all of the above. Now it's time to choose an activity that isn't work related. So no work book reading, no scrolling on sites which are relevant to work... if you can help it!

My go-to is a walk, as you'll know if you follow my Instagram stories. Try leaving the phone at home when you next go for a walk. Call a friend (rather than messaging) or do an online class which requires your full attention. Doesn't have to be exercise, it could be life drawing, writing or even singing...

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