Freelancing certainly has its upsides: flexible hours, flexible working methods and the right to choose where you work and when. It’s not only bloggers and graphic designers either; 21st century communications make it possible for administrative and secretarial roles to be performed remotely as well. Increasingly, companies are creating more and more home-based roles for employees. But all that freedom needs some self-discipline to ensure that we don’t develop terrible habits and this can be a struggle. Whether you work from home or away from it in serviced offices, maintaining a fitness routine is one of the hardest parts of the job.
Breaks are always a good place to start. While some mornings it’s difficult to get started, other days it can be difficult to stop, especially if you have an urgent deadline on the horizon. Not only are breaks necessary for your mental health and productivity, they’re also a great opportunity to fit in some exercise. Try setting a timer every 45 minutes – 1 hour, even if it’s just to get up and stretch your legs.
Keep handy tools like skipping ropes or hula hoops in the study to motivate you to do some regular 10 minute work-outs. Finger grips and stress balls also help. Find a good fitness DVD, where you can just watch a chunk at a time, perhaps focusing on different areas of the body, not forgetting the warm-up and cool-down. There are various forms of exercise available for the home to suit everyone, from yoga poses while you think out a problem, to lifting weights while you’re having a TV break.
If you find lots of little breaks distracting, use your lunchtimes to go for a walk or a run to refresh your body and brain before you hit the desk again. Some people find it easier to combine exercise with an errand, such as nipping to the Post Office or heading to the library to do some research. A change of scenery like this can also be a big boost to your concentration and make you feel like you’ve had a break from the house.
The ergonomic benefits are equally huge. Breaks are proven to greatly reduce the risk of developing a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) by giving your hands, wrists, eyes and torso a rest!
Diet is especially important to maintain as a freelancer. The temptation to snack is huge when you know you’ve got a full fridge of inviting foods just down the hall. If you like to nibble while you work, make sure you put something healthier within easy reach. Cereal bars, nuts, high-energy fruit like bananas and rye crackers are good alternatives. It may take more discipline, but it’s sometimes more effective to allot specific snack times and eat away from your desk, so that you don’t associate that space with treats. If you seriously lack discipline, don’t stock the unhealthy and naughty foods in the first place!
Freelance fitness doesn’t immediately sound like a concept that is likely to work well. While home offices mainly involve sit-down jobs and with the opportunity to have that extra half hour in bed, or snack freely while you type, it’s not surprising that healthy habits can sometimes fly out the window. But this is exactly why it’s up to you to create a new fitness regime that can be personally designed to fit around your week. After all, you’ve adapted to a new way of working, so it follows that your health routine might need a little tweaking as well.