Freelancers, Why You Should Keep at Least One Day off a Week
No phone calls, no work, and above all: no emails
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When was the last time you had a full day off? During which you did absolutely nothing related to work? No writing for clients, no proof-reading, no phone calls answering, and especially no emails?
I used to work every single day. A bit less during weekends, but I was still focusing for at least 3 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. I didn’t have any real moment for simply relaxing, keeping my mind away from obligations, and focusing on things that I genuinely wanted to do.
A couple of decades ago, it was easier to get some time away from work. There were no connected devices and no remote work. Being out of office meant being out of work. Nowadays, we find it more and more difficult to cut out. Especially us, freelancers. It is tempting to move forward on a project when we have an entire day ahead of us. It is tempting to keep checking our emails to see if we haven’t received a new mission.
But the truth is: we need some rest.
Scientific reasons to get some rest
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found out that stress level at work has never been higher. This level of stress is highly linked to health care issues:
“Health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.” — NIOSH
Taking a day off is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. It allows our mind to take a break and recharge its batteries. It also put things — and especially problems — in perspective, making them easier to solve.
A study published on Plos One brought to light the fact that most of our work-related activities are sedentary. That is even more true with freelance work, as our tasks often include sitting in front of our laptop. They say:
“Sedentary behaviour has been identified as a distinct risk factor for several health outcomes. […] These novel findings from a high risk population recruited through primary care suggest that sedentary behaviour may influence markers associated with inflammation, independent of MVPA, glycaemia and adiposity.”
Time off is, therefore, a good moment to have a walk — preferably in nature — or some exercise, so we can balance a little the sedentary time imposed by our working style.
Rest leads to increased productivity
It can seem a little counterintuitive, but taking some rest leads to increased productivity. While this statement is true during our workday — as shown in this article published on the NY Times website — it is equally true when it comes to having a rest day a week.
One of the main benefits of this day of rest is its ability to make us start work the next day filled with energy and motivation. Our brain is refreshed, we feel rested, so we can start in good condition. This leads to less daydreaming and fewer “5-minutes breaks on Facebook” throughout our working time. I also found that it was good for my concentration in general.
Don’t fall into the email trap
One of my biggest issues is emails. I’m addicted to it. I can’t help but check my inbox several times an hour. I think it works the same way as the reward system other persons get from checking their social networks.
In the long run, this addiction to my emails becomes exhausting and stressful. I can as easily come across emails that make me happy — like a new customer request — like emails that instantly put me in a stressful state of mind.
So I’ve made a big decision — at least it’s big for me. I don’t allow myself to check my email on Sundays. From the moment I wake up until the next morning, I do not open my mailbox at all. I found that this way, I was under a lot less pressure and feeling more relaxed.
Sundays are also the days when I don’t work. The combination of these two parameters allows me to spend a day of relaxation, which might seem like a waste of time but is not at all.
This article was originally published by Auriane alix on medium.
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