"Freelancing helped me banish my workplace stress"
Anna-Marie Marshall is a freelance senior graphic designer with over ten years of London-based studio experience. In this article, she shares her unique perspective on stress, and how freelancing helped her balance motherhood and a thriving career in design.
Do you consider your work/life balance healthy?
Yes, but only in the last three years since I became a freelancer. Being in a permanent role was like being stuck in a never-ending cycle of trying to prove myself, and better myself. In this new era of working where lots of people are still finding themselves working from home, it’s more important than ever to be able to find that balance and to be able to switch off.
Freelancing has improved my way of life and mental well-being. I now finish at a sensible time and I rarely ever need to work any extra hours.
Time management is key as a freelancer, if you’re productive and use your time wisely, then there is no guilt in clocking off at the right time at the end of the day - the job will be there to pick up the following day.
Was there a specific reason for choosing your current working style?
Freelancing was something I’d thought of doing for a long time, but I never quite had the confidence to take the plunge. In the end, the role I was in wasn’t working out, so I decided now was the time, I’d had enough of office politics and wanted to be my boss, and it was the best decision I’ve made. Three years down the line - I’m happier (and thankfully, busier) than ever.
I’m in a much better headspace, and I now have much more free time to spend with my family.
How do you switch off from work? Have you chosen any hobbies specifically to help you destress?
When work ends, I switch back to Mum mode and unwind by cooking meals from scratch every single day.
I find a healthy mind is powered by healthy eating too. I make sure I always set time aside in the evening to spend with my family with no distractions - family time is incredibly important, sitting down and talking through our days.
How do you manage your stress whilst at work?
The good thing is, since becoming a freelancer, stress is a distant memory!
If I have the odd day where my mind is a little cloudy and a particular project isn’t quite working out the way I’d hoped, I step away from the screen, make myself a cup of tea and sit down with a notepad and pen, and go back to basics and sketch out what’s in my mind. I sometimes find the screen restrictive but reverting to sketching always gets my brain thinking from a different angle and I return to my Mac refreshed and ready to go again with lots of new ideas.
What do you feel employers should do to reduce work-related stress?
Flexibility! I think the pandemic has helped both employers and employees realign their priorities.
Work-life balance is incredibly important, and the lockdowns gave many people time to reassess their situations. The more sympathetic employer's are to their employee’s needs, the more likely they are to stick around. As the saying goes, take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.
Anna-Marie has worked across various sectors including hospitality, fitness, F&B, finance, education and retail. You can check out her work here.
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