A common misconception of the self-employed is that they have the flexibility in their schedules to do what they want when they want. While that is only partially true, it’s an unfortunate assumption the self-employed make for themselves as well. Sure, there are potentially greater freedoms and more flexibility in the schedule, but those who work for themselves are dependent on one and usually only one person to get the job done. Personal time is often sacrificed for last minute projects, client meetings and tight deadlines and all at the expense of their physical and mental well-being. If you’ve self-employed and struggling to find a way to fit regular exercise into your always unpredictable schedule, here are a few tips to make fitness the norm and not the exception.
Make It a Priority. The most important thing you can do is treat your workouts like any other appointment. You’re not going to break a commitment to a client, so don’t break a commitment to yourself either. Schedule each workout into your day and make it non-negotiable. You don’t owe anyone an explanation why you’re unavailable during that time.
Wake Up Earlier. Squeezing in an extra hour in the morning is one of the most effective ways to fit a workout into your day. The best part about working out in the morning is that it sets the tone for the rest of the day, and there’s no chance a last-minute client request will get in the way. Not a morning person? Gradually condition yourself to getting up a half hour earlier every day and practice it in spring/summer as you’ll have some daylight to make it a bit more inviting.
Don’t Turn It On. Before you head downstairs or to the gym, refrain from turning on the cell phone or computer. Whatever is waiting for you will still be there but get sucked into returning calls and emails and the morning will be over before you know it.
Exercise at Your Desk. It should come as no surprise that sitting is poor for your health and if you spend a good chunk of your day behind a desk or driving your car, it could shave years off of your life. Aside from investing in a treadmill desk or stability ball, there are cheaper, more effective ways to be active even just a little bit more while at work. Stand up every 10-15 minutes to stretch or perform a few squats; handle all calls by walking around the office; do a few push-ups after every bathroom break, etc.
Get Social Support. Hire a professional or just simply find a few like-minded, self-employed individuals who also would benefit from getting together a few times a week to stay motivated throughout the year. Perhaps form a small club such as a walking or bike riding club that meets for no other purpose than to just get out and get moving.
Make Lunch Active. It’s not always convenient to take an hour lunch break during the day, change clothes, and come back sweaty and flushed after a mid-day run or intense workout. However, a brisk 30-minute walk at lunch is manageable and will save you money and perhaps indigestion from a force-fed meal.
Conduct Business Over Fitness. Instead of conference calls inside, stuffy boardrooms, or hurried, calorie laden lunches, opt for a low-key fitness activity, such as golf or a walk in the park, to discuss business matters while being active. Obviously, this might not be for every type of client you meet, but it opens up the possibility of developing a business relationship over a mutual interest.
Being self-employed is a lot of work but can be both very rewarding and invigorating. Chances are if you’re self-motivated and driven to be your own boss, you already have the skill set to take charge and make things happen. Take charge of your health and make no exception for fitting physical activity into your day.