I couldn’t wait to start my new career as a freelancer. I envisaged a stress-free existence, flexible hours and an exciting opportunity to learn new skills.
I certainly wasn’t going to miss all those wasted hours contemplating my own navel whilst stuck somewhere between Staines and Heathrow on the M25.
I walked out of my job on a particularly miserable Thursday in October and drove home via that god awful motorway for the last time. The next morning I woke up, got dressed and made the 10-second commute to my home office and then everything changed.
It took me approximately 2 minutes to realise that I loved my new career as a copywriter. In fact, I loved it so much that I was soon working all hours. Nothing short of the apocalypse was ever going to tear me away from my desk.
Six months later it became obvious that the apocalypse had, indeed, arrived because my new life was killing me.
I was becoming sluggish, apathetic and, well, fat!
The Freelancer in Freefall
The more I thought about it, the more certain I was that my body was shutting down. I was in imminent danger of flatlining. I had become obsessed with completing as many projects as possible and so I sat at my desk all day and half the night. I refused to take breaks because any time away from my desk would ruin my schedule, not to mention my earnings.
But I was spending a large proportion of my earnings buying new clothes in larger sizes! Go figure!
What the hell was I going to do?
Making a Stand
My partner had recently started to work at a standing desk and encouraged me to follow suit. I was truly horrified at the thought! How would I be able to concentrate whilst standing up? But then again, he clearly wasn’t having any trouble in that regard and was rapidly losing weight. His annoying headaches and shoulder pain appeared to have vanished too. It was a subject worthy of investigation.
I did a little research and was shocked to discover just how dangerous it was to spend quite so much time on my bottom. A bottom that was getting wider by the minute.
I learnt that sitting down for too long slows the metabolism. This causes weight gain and impacts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. The result is a massive increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, some cancers and premature death. Good God!
I needed to stand up immediately! But I didn’t have a standing desk so I used a pile of books to raise my keyboard to a suitable height. It was a Heath Robinson affair but it worked – after a fashion.
The effects were dramatic, though. I felt better almost immediately and so rushed out to buy a standing desk.
I had feared that I would have to force my ageing bones to sustain a higher altitude. I had felt certain that my work would suffer if I stood up and that I would write incoherent gibberish. I was so wrong.
Standing up was easy. Better still, I felt that my work was actually improving. But I was still fat!
It was time to tear myself away from my new desk. My work was certainly doing a good job of exercising my mind but I now needed to exercise my body.
It would be necessary to leave my desk for at least one hour every day in order to get fit.
Running seemed the most appropriate choice of exercise as I used to run regularly after work and I have always enjoyed being outdoors. I was full of confidence about my proposed exercise regime but pride comes before a fall.
Sadly, my first outing was an epic fail! I was hanging over the fence in the park gasping for breath like a terminal consumptive after just 700 yards. A guy walking a cockapoo even stopped to ask if I was OK. I clearly wasn’t! How had it come to this? I was determined to improve.
By week two I could run a mile. Four weeks later I could manage three miles. By week twelve I was running eight miles and waving at cockapoo man as I passed him at speed. The spare tyre had disappeared and I felt like a new person. But what about all the time that I was spending away from my desk? Had I alienated all of my customers? Was I now residing in the poor house?
I shouldn’t have worried. Taking breaks and exercising had considerably improved my productivity. I was completing even more work than before but in less time and I was finding inspiration a great deal easier to come by.
Freelancers, Be Warned!
If you are a freelancer and always work sitting down then it might be time to reconsider your position – literally. You might think that you are doing fine but don’t be fooled. Sitting down all day is extremely damaging to your health.
Standing up is much easier than you think and an adjustable desk doesn’t cost the earth. Especially if you visit a certain well-known Swedish furniture retailer that doesn’t like garden gnomes. Other retailers are available.
Taking regular breaks is also important, as is exercise, and those breaks will likely result in your work improving. Go on! Try it! The new you just might be a better freelancer.
About the Author:
I am a UK based copywriter and have been a freelancer for over four years. In my previous life, I spent sixteen years as Director of Operations at a distribution company and held senior management positions in textile production and freight recruitment businesses. Hire Sally on PeoplePerHour.
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