Welcome to the next post in my Boost Health Awareness mini-series, part of the Looking-Glass Translations productivity programme!

Freelancing has lots of benefits.

But we can only enjoy it thanks to our greatest asset: our health. Unlike 9-to-5 workers we don’t get paid sick leave, so staying healthy is a must for the productive translator.

However, freelancing can also be very bad for our health, creating a bizarre tension between looking after ourselves and doing what we love.


Here are the four the biggest, baddest freelancer health habits according to me:

1. Skipping meals

My worst habit has to make the list. I skip meals: mostly lunch, and sometimes breakfast. However, this is not a good thing. Apart from the obvious impact of low food levels on our ability to concentrate, skipping meals can slow down your metabolism and cause you to lose muscle mass, and can even lead to chronic illnesses such as diabetes!


Try setting an alarm for food. An alarm doesn’t work for me (I ignore it…), so I recently downloaded this calorie-counter app for my phone (edit: now I use this one), which has been a real game-changer. Rather than use it to lose weight, I use it to breakdown just how many calories I’m burning and not eating. Seeing the figures in black and white really helps to scare me into remembering to grab a snack!


2. Excessive snacking

Simply put, snacking can lead to over-eating – another problem faced by many freelancers. Working from home means we always have instant access to our entire, delicious snack cupboard, so it’s all too easy for us to gain a little ‘freelancer fat’.


Discipline is key – ask yourself if you really need to eat that. You probably don’t (unless you’re like me). The other problem with snacking at home is that our snacks are often not healthy ones. Skip the chocolate/sweets/crisps and go for a yoghurt, mixed nuts, or dried fruits instead. These foods release energy more slowly than sugary snacks, and will keep you feeling full for longer.

Tip: For more on boosting productivity through healthy eating, check out my post on meal-time tips for foodie freelancers.


3. Too little exercise

Free from the stress of commuting, we often forget that the trip to and from work would have contributed to our daily exercise. If you’re skipping meals/snacking a lot, the chances are that you’re also more sedentary than you should be.


A huge benefit of freelancing is a less rigid schedule; we might prefer to stick to a rough routine, but we set our own hours. Use this to your advantage to go to the gym or the pool. If you really feel you can’t spare the time, try picking up a fitness DVD or video game for the Xbox or Nintendo to cut down on travel! If you know you aren’t disciplined enough to exercise by yourself, team up with a friend and train together. Alternatively, pay for fitness classes – then you have to go to avoid wasting money. A final option would be to invest in a kneeling or standing desk, which also has all kinds of other great health benefits.

Tip: For more on getting freelance fit, check out my three easy ways to get fit while getting paid.


4. Dysfunctional sleep patterns

The ability to set our own schedules can be both a blessing and a curse. If you’re a night owl like me, the freedom of being your own boss can tempt you to burn the candle at both ends, honouring your nocturnal tendencies while also being up bright and early to meet your clients. Meanwhile, baby freelancers who are still a bit nervous can often agree to work late into the night to secure a project (more on the disadvantages of this here). We all know that not sleeping enough is bad, but studies have recently shown that a regular lack of good sleep can permanently affect our brain function, so this is a habit that really has to stop.


Set yourself a time to be up in the morning, and stick with it. You don’t really need a bed time; if you stick to your morning routine, you’ll become sleepy earlier in the day. This also means saying no to projects that will have you up half the night – the health benefits far outweigh not scoring that one project, and you’ll actually feel more energised to tackle work the next day. If you’re sleeping but not feeling the benefit, try exploiting your natural 90-minute sleep cycle for a more restful awakening!

Tip: For more on why sleep might be the best thing you can do for your business, period, check out this post on sleep, rest and relaxation.


Are you guilty of any of these things, or would you perhaps add something to the list? Please do share your thoughts below; I’d love to hear from you!


Looking for more tips to boost your health and productivity?

These posts will help you to kill your bad habits dead:


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