Working as a contractor certainly has its benefits. You get to be your own boss, set your own schedule and decide which jobs you want to take. You can also enjoy more flexibility, better career opportunities, higher wages and more free time.
Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the contracting world, and there is also a lot of stress that can come with the territory. This is particularly true when you consider the administration and financial obligations that all contractors must deal with, such as filing tax returns, looking for work and managing your pay during holidays or sickness.
So how do savvy contractors deal with all these stressors, without just throwing in the towel and going back to permanent employment? Read on for our top tips to taking the stress out of contracting.
1. Build up some savings
Contracting can sometimes feel like a roller coaster of feast versus famine – with the phone ringing off the hook from clients wanting your services one day, to absolutely nothing the next.
While it can be a scary time when work dries up, contractors who have saved up some money from previous jobs can enjoy a bit of comfort, knowing that they have enough funds to see them through for at least a few months.
The amount you save from each job will depend on your situation, and different experts will recommend various amounts ranging from 10 to 50 per cent of your earnings. Meanwhile, others will say that you should have enough to see you through a dry spell lasting between three and six months.
However much you decide to save, it can also be a good idea to set some money aside for other purposes – such as your retirement, new equipment or in case you end up owing more on your taxes than originally planned.
2. Take care of your mind and body
Making sure you have a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise can help you to ward of illness, preventing you from having to take days off unpaid to recover from sickness, and it can also help to improve your productivity.
If you’re a contractor who normally works from home, avoid falling into bad habits like working in your pyjamas, eating unhealthy meals and staying indoors all day. Getting dressed like you’re headed for a day at the office can prepare your mind for a day of work, while a nutritious breakfast will give your brain the energy it needs to get you through the day. A brisk walk at lunchtime can also clear your mind and help you feel fresh for the afternoon.
In addition, attending CPD courses, networking events and educational seminars is also a great way to update your knowledge and give your brain a bit of a workout.
3. Get help
You probably became a contractor because you’re good at what you do – not because you enjoy doing your own bookkeeping, building your own website or marketing your own business.
So, why should you spend huge chunks of time stressing over these various aspects of contracting when you could engage the services of a professional to take care of them for you?
For example, using a tax return service from a company like PayStream can greatly simplify your accounting, or you could opt to work under an umbrella service and have all of your PAYE, National Insurance contributions, expenses and pension contributions calculated and paid for you.