Be Flexible, But Know and Take Care of Yourself
Those who are already embarking on an independent career, or who have been independent workers for extended periods of time, must often fend for themselves. As explored in the last section, there is a long way to go before independent workers are more supported by the government's social safety net from which regular employees can benefit. Independent workers must be flexible, adapt to change, know their values, take care of their mental health, and use the tools that do exist for their support.
At the Vancouver Skillshare, as I attended panels and workshops, listened to invited speakers, and participated in roundtable discussions, one theme was very prominent throughout the day: Values. Without knowing your values and what you stand for, it is difficult to be a productive and supportive worker. Core values dictate how you navigate the world, how you communicate with others, and how you do your best work for and with others. It is essential to realize what values you hold when working independently and collaboratively. Another definition of the word "value" is "the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange" - in other words, the value of your work to help solve a problem that a client is facing. Knowing the value of what you do and pricing accordingly is key when an independent worker.
Being mentally healthy and having a good self-care practice will also go a long way. In a roundtable presentation by Steve Rio of Briteweb, I learned how "focus blocks" can keep you on track with your work and more productive. Steve also stressed the importance of breaks from electronic devices throughout the day, including turning on the "do not disturb" function of a tablet, smart phone, or computer. Steve highly recommends Deep Work by Cal Newport to learn how to get focused in a distracted world. Self care can sometimes be easier when you're an independent worker with a more flexible schedule, and scheduling blocks of time devoted to self care can help fit it in.
Lastly, use tools to support you - anything from mental health apps to events like the Urban Worker Project's Skillshares to joining a coworking community. When you are not employed regularly as an employee, you have to do the work to create your own social safety net.