Digital detox: the freelancer's guide to switching off

This article was updated on 28/01/2019

In a world where people look at their iPhones on average 80 times per day, it’s safe to say that technology is pretty inextricably woven into our lives. Running a business is no exception to this; tech is essential for everything from promoting your services and staying in touch with clients, to managing your business finances.

There’s no doubt that this multitude of technology is incredibly useful - especially when it comes to running a small business. However, even if you’re an avid user of the UK’s greatest accounting software, a predilection for too much tech has the potential to be problematic. Overuse of laptops, smartphones, tablets and other gadgets can lead to physical problems such as poor posture and fatigue, as well as mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

So whether you’d like to cut back on screen time in your day-to-day life, or you fancy more of an extended break from being online, here’s our quick guide to disconnecting - without abandoning your business.

Choose which devices to cut out ✅

It might be tough to fully cut out a laptop, or even a phone, if your work depends on one, but tablets and smartwatches can almost definitely stand to take some time out. If you can’t fully commit to taking time off from a particular device, then consider setting yourself some daily usage limits. When it comes to keeping your books in order, FreeAgent can automate a variety of tasks for you while you’re offline; everything from invoices to late payment reminders. Just make sure you have everything set up before you switch off.

Make your targets achievable ✅

Accept that some time online might be unavoidable, and be kind to yourself in your estimates. If you’re aiming to cut back on your phone usage, for example, why not start off with a limit of 30 minutes per day? For some extra “encouragement” you could even download an app like Moment that will boot you off your phone if you exceed these limits! If you do slip up,don’t beat yourself up too much - just have another think about what’s realistic and set a new target.

Keep your clients in the loop ✅

Before you cut yourself off from the digital realm, make sure you have a solid plan for keeping in touch with your clients. You might want to reacquaint them with your landline, or perhaps just set aside some dedicated time every day to check and respond to emails. You could also consider setting up an auto-responder with a clear timescale of when clients can expect a reply from you.

Keep a journal ✅

Last but not least, consider keeping a paper journal to record your progress. Even if it’s just a couple of lines per day or week, keeping a note of how you’re feeling could prove really useful. You might be able to spot weak points in your plan, as well as see some really positive changes coming through. Taking the time to power down might not only give you a break from the physical and mental strain of using technology, it could also give you fresh ideas and a renewed passion for why you started your business in the first place.

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