Chances are you’re one of the almost 2.5 million Aussies in casual employment – juggling a mix of contract, volunteer or freelance jobs. Managing deadlines, looking after your mental wellbeing and ensuring you get paid on time can make things a bit of a struggle. We get that. Since a few experts believe that these jobs – aka the ‘gig economy’ – is the new face of work, we want to help you embrace it and feel empowered to make a living in whatever way is right for you.
Hang on, what exactly is the gig economy?
According to Wired, the gig economy gets its name from each piece of work being an individual 'gig' – generally, temporary, short-term or one-off jobs. These jobs are normally paid per piece — for instance, a set rate to deliver a package, or to drive or deliver a passenger or an item. Gig jobs tend to be flexible, so most gig workers find themselves juggling a mix of different types of jobs. This can be great if you’ve got a few different skill sets, or if you’re splitting your time between work and study.
Feeling stressed is no way to live – but when you’re juggling a few different projects, or racing between work and school, it can be easy to fall into a stress spiral. These tips will help you take control of your workload and will hopefully keep panic at bay.
- Make a ‘to do’ list. This can be in a fancy notebook or on the back of your hand, but keeping a short list where you can see it will help unclutter your mind and keep you across everything you have to get done.
- Keep your space tight. If you’re doing deliveries, having a designated spot for your gear or uniform can make getting out the door easier. Or, if you work at a desk, keeping things neat and grouped together by job will really help.
- Use your calendar. Breaking your day into blocks of time allocated to specific tasks is an easy way to keep on top of your ‘to do’ list. Setting a time for answering emails, doing your laundry, making deliveries or planning the week ahead will allow you to focus on the job at hand without having your mind wander to all the other things you have to get done.
- Track your deadlines. If you’re working on projects that have a due date, make sure you put it somewhere you can see it, like on a wall planner or in your phone calendar. If you’ve got to make deliveries or pickups at certain times, log them so you don’t miss them.
- As often as possible, ask yourself how you’re going. We’ve made a handy quiz that you can use, or you could take five minutes each day to sit somewhere you feel comfy and rate your day out of 10. If it’s hitting 5 or lower, you know something is up.
- Make sure you take the time to stretch your legs, have a proper lunch or take five minutes to focus on something other than your work.
- Try slotting in time for a mindfulness activity. This can be a great way to relax and reset your brain. Check out our great exercises here.
- The happier you are, the more productive you’re going to be, so being kind to your mind is good for your gigs, too. Making sure you have a handle on work/life balance is key to staying mentally well. Sometimes a bit of procrastination is a useful way to keep yourself mentally in the game.
- Taking a sick day can be stressful if it means you won’t get paid for it, but taking one sick day now is WAY better than having to take more time off later because you’re totally burnt out.
- Manage your time. Knowing how long you have to do something will keep you from getting caught up on one task and running out of time to do the rest.
- Set clear goals. Sitting down at the start of your day or week and working out exactly what goals you have to kick can help you keep your eyes on the prize.
- Break up big jobs. Sometimes big tasks can seem overwhelming, but breaking them up into smaller jobs can make it feel a whole lot easier to get things done.
- Remove all distractions. If you find yourself scrolling the ‘gram or chatting on Messenger, you might need to put your phone away while you work. You could use it as a reward when you need a break.
It’s important to stay connected to the real world, especially if you find yourself eating lunch alone every day.
- Try an online forum like Meetup or Facebook for connecting with and meeting other freelancers.
- Connect with other volunteers or contractors working in the same field.
- Schedule regular time to catch up with your mates. You can only work hard if you play hard, too.
- If you find it hard to slot in time with your ‘full-time’ friends because of your hours, try visiting them during their lunch hour. Meeting at a park or cafe near their workplace is a great way to feel connected when you have different schedules.
- Find a mentor in your field who can advise, support and encourage your work and your career as a whole. Having someone who can help you see the bigger picture will keep you on track and connected to the importance of what you’re doing.
Casual work or freelance jobs can leave you feeling a bit uncertain about what the future may hold. This is the nature, and one of the downsides, of the gig economy. If you find yourself stressing about the uncertainty, it can help to focus on the things that are in your control and to accept those that aren’t. To help you out, we’ve written a whole article on it here.
There’s a lot of ins and outs to gig life. You (literally) have your work cut out for you navigating it all. It can be overwhelming trying to juggle your time and keep on top of your rights, finances, wellbeing and workload. Luckily, there are some experts out there who can steer you in the right direction.