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Why contractors should aim for set working hours each day

Monday 7th August, 2017
Limited Company
If you're a limited company contractor and are the sole person in charge of completing your workload, it can be tempting to check emails as soon as you wake up and keep an eye on them frequently after you're meant to have logged out for the day. But is this a sign of dedication to your business, or could you be risking burnout by failing to stick to set working hours?

According to new research carried out by healthcare provider Bupa, the millennial generation is the worst for being 'always on', checking emails constantly via their smartphones and feeling under pressure to reply whenever they see a notification. In total, 82 per cent of millennials say they check their work emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night, working almost an hour (56 minutes) longer than their baby boomer counterparts in the average day.

If you're a contractor or freelancer, it can be tempting to check emails regularly to see if any new work offers have come through and to make sure that your clients are happy.

But this isn't necessarily conducive to good mental wellbeing and could lead to you feeling overworked and burnt out.

Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director of Mental Health at Bupa UK, commented: "Downtime from work is crucial to maintaining good mental health, as it gives both the mind and body the opportunity to reset and recover. With millennials dipping into work emails morning through to night, it's clear they are not making enough time to ensure they remain mentally and physically healthy."

Bupa's research also found that more than one-fifth (22 per cent) of millennials are worried that they would be seen as uncommitted to their job if they were not replying to emails outside of their working hours.

What's more, 33 per cent of younger workers revealed that they were concerned they wouldn't be able to progress in their career if they did not reply to emails promptly. In contrast, just ten per cent of workers aged 55 and over held the same worries.

However, it's vital to make sure you're striking the right balance between your personal life and your work commitments to avoid burnout and to ensure you're always in the right frame of mind for working on your assignments.

For office workers, it can be easier to switch off at the end of the day, but if you're a self-employed contractor who works from home, your smartphone is never too far away and it can be hard to feel separated from your work if you've spent all day in the same environment.

Therefore, it's essential to set yourself specific working hours each day and to try to stick to these wherever possible. Another way to avoid potential burnout and strike a better work-life balance is to create a workspace for yourself outside of the environment where you usually relax.

You could also try to leave your smartphone and laptop in a different room while you're unwinding in the evenings to remove the temptation of replying to emails and to make sure you're fully refreshed and ready to tackle your workload the following day.

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