When freelancers go off on their own they’re usually so excited about the new adventure that they forget the loss of perks and benefits. Health insurance, vacation, breaks—for all their faults 9-to-5 jobs do have perks. It’s important for freelancers to take care of themselves.
So we’re exploring self care for freelancers by talking with some experts.Today we talk with Jennifer Bourn. She’s the founder of Bourn Creative and has been doing web work since 1997. Jennifer knows WordPress, design, business strategy and how to make freelancing work with a family.
Our conversation covers finding the motivation to get healthier, the flexibility of freelance and how to make vacations possible without going crazy.
When did you learn it was important to take care of yourself? What convinced you to take it seriously?
I didn’t think much about my own health until my husband and business partner was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer. It was the life changing catalyst that completely shifted the way we approach life. It changed the way we were building our business, the way we thought about eating and exercise, the structure of our personal lives, and how much time we take away from work to play and enjoy life.
With the sedentary nature of coding/office work, how do you stay healthy?
When you work on the computer and sit at a desk all day every day, it’s tough to squeeze in regular activity.
I find that if I don’t get my exercise in before my workday begins, it doesn’t happen. So my son, who is also my accountability buddy, gets up with me at 6:00 a.m. everyday so I can hang with him a little bit and work out before the day gets away from me. During the day, I don’t bring my phone in my office and I don’t use social media on my work machine, so if I need to text anyone or check social media I have to get up and walk around. It gives me the nudge I need to get up and take breaks. I also work in small sprints during the day with breaks in between where I get up and walk around.
In terms of eating healthy, we do pretty good at home, eating a mostly vegetarian diet, but we love the midday break going out to lunch gives us, and we go out to lunch way too much! We also love our road trip car snacks and vacation food—and when you vacation as much as we do, that can be a problem! Right now we’re in the middle of our first Whole30 and feel great.
[Learn more from Jennifer’s experience with living a lasting sustainable healthy lifestyle.]
What kind of perks—whether daily treats or once-in-a-while benefits—do you give yourself?
Hmmm… That’s a great question. I think the biggest benefit we’re allowed by being self-employed is the ability to create our own schedule and take as much time off as we want to, as long as we continue to provide outstanding service to our clients. We typically take seven to eight weeks of vacation each year, plus long weekends throughout the summer, and all major holidays.
How do you make time for vacation and ensure they are actually restful?
One of the key elements of making a vacation truly restful is making sure you’re not talking about work or thinking about work much while you’re away from work. When we’re on vacation, Brian and I rarely ever talk about our business, Bourn Creative. When the Lema family and the Bourn family go on vacation together, like taking a Disney Cruise or renting a gorgeous beach house, we don’t talk about work and we don’t talk about WordPress.It’s all about being present in the moment and allowing everything else to fall into the background.
Here are a few posts I wrote on the Bourn Creative site that expand on how we prepare for our travels and avoid the stressful ramp up most experience before and after travel:
- How to Take a Vacation From Your Business Without Freaking Out
- How to Take a Real Vacation Even If You Own A Business
Read more freelance productivity advice from Jennifer Bourn.