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Unsustainable workloads impacting self-employed

Self-employment can be a rewarding way to make a living. It takes persistence, dedication and resourcefulness to work for yourself and build a successful business.

Best of all, the work structure that comes with self-employment can offer many advantages.

In fact, for many Kiwis the decision to become self-employed is rooted in the ability to be their own boss and live more flexibly while working fewer hours.

But this isn’t always the case – too many are telling us their current workload is unsustainably large.

Even before the world changed due to Covid-19, more than 40 percent of Kiwi small business leaders were overworked.

And particularly after summer, many self-employed Kiwis find themselves launching into the new year trying to make up for the time spent without income during the holidays.

But overworking can have a negative impact on your wellbeing and eventually lead to burnout. When you’re focusing on the success of your business, it can be easy to let things, like your wellbeing, slip.

While looking after yourself is crucial to being able to give 100 percent at work and in life, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start.

That’s why we developed the Self-Employed Check-In, a guide to improving resilience and wellbeing in the workplace with a focus on self-employed Kiwis.

There are some simple steps you can take to make a conscious decision to look after yourself and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Establishing routines and rhythms

The decision to become your own boss can be liberating. But it’s valuable to have very clear distinctions between when you’re working and when you’re not.

Not allowing yourself sufficient breaks away from work can lead to burnout and severely impact your wellbeing.

Setting clear boundaries

When you’re working for yourself, it can feel tempting to say yes to every single offer that comes in. After all, you’ve got to maintain your income, right?

But it’s important for your wellbeing and overall productivity to learn when to say no.

Self-employed people can put unhealthy pressures on themselves. It’s important to establish your boundaries.

Managing stress with the tools available

Getting on top of the most stressful elements of your business is essential, and there are several tools you can use to help.

If you’re not using technology across all aspects of your business, you’re likely working harder, not smarter and putting more hours into your work than you need to.

Looking for ways to automate tasks, using online applications and other digital tools can cut out unnecessary administration so you can focus your time on acquiring more business or doing what you love outside of work – both of which can improve your wellbeing.

Small steps to look after yourself

There’s a lot of information out there when it comes to wellbeing strategies and trying to make sense of it can be overwhelming.

But the best thing you can do is simply to start by taking small steps to move you in the right direction. Little steps add up to big changes over time.

Finding support.

Being self-employed can be isolating. You can find support by connecting with your local community, and others in your line of business, both online and in person.

There are also wellbeing support services like the Xero Assistance Programme (XAP).

Asking for help isn’t a weakness; it’s a strength and often the first step towards a better life. It also puts you in a better position to be more productive and drive your business forward.

All workplaces play a central role in building people’s resilience and wellbeing, and being self-employed is no different.

Related: Wellbeing top-of-mind for the agri industry

Craig Hudson
Craig Hudson
Xero Managing Director for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands

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