Dec 06, 2019

Contracting has its benefits, but the uncertainty that accompanies this way of working means it can be tempting to overdo it and take on assignment after assignment without taking a proper break in between.

While you may enjoy freedom and flexibility with contracting, one of the downsides is that it’s up to you to find new roles whenever your contracts come to an end, and this can be stressful.  You’ll be only too well aware that the bills don’t stop, even if the work does.  With this in mind, many contractors find it difficult to create the right balance between life and work.

This is usually acceptable on a short-term basis, but when it continues for any length of time, your health, wellbeing and family life can begin to suffer.  It’s important to try to work out when you need to ease off the accelerator, but how?  Here are some tips to help you.
1. Nurture your work sources
It’s important to understand where you will go to look for work before your current contract comes to an end – thinking ahead will relieve a lot of the worry.
It pays to nurture your network – agencies, end hirers, present and former colleagues – rather than simply contact people when you’re in need of a role.  You don’t need to make a nuisance of yourself, but a quick phone call or email to let people know when you will be available and what sort of roles you’re able to fulfil will help them to help you, and ensure you remain front of mind.
2. Enjoy the natural breaks
If you’re proactive in lining up future work, it should be possible to take at least a short break before your next role begins.  This is especially helpful if the type of work you do involves weekends or long, anti-social hours. There’s more chance that the right assignments will come your way if you’re actively looking well in advance, which means you can take time out and enjoy the natural breaks when they come along.
3. Create a buffer in your finances
Contracting is unpredictable, so it pays to create a buffer in your finances to see you through weeks where you’re not earning.  Get into the habit of setting aside some of your earnings so that you have enough savings to cover your rent and bills for at least a short time while you are waiting for your next contract to come along.  This makes a big difference in reducing stress.
Remember, you probably chose contracting because it gives you more freedom and flexibility over how you use your time.  The longer you work as a contractor the most familiar you become with the lack of job security, and the better you’ll get at lining up your next project and enjoying the natural breaks in between.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about tax, payments or organising your finances, please speak to one of our specialist contractor accountants who will be pleased to help.  We have worked with contractors for 20 years so are well placed to provide the accountancy help and advice you need to enjoy life as a contractor.

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