The past few months of lockdown have been a blur of frantic pitching and finance freak-outs punctuated with Friday night Zoom quizzes, the occasional banana bread bake, and a lot of loungewear. Safe to say, it has been a trying time for us freelancers, and we are all coping in our own ways.
Whilst some take comfort from channelling energy into creative projects and picking up new skills, others are using downtime to look inward, to slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures (coffee art, we’re looking at you). Both camps are equally valid. If, however, you’re keen on brushing up your business skills or showering yourself in self-care, here is a list of some of our favourite books that could help you to progress your freelance business and improve your mental wellbeing whilst in lockdown.
1. Multi-Hyphen Method, Emma Gannon
Emma Gannon explains the ins-and-outs of being a multi-hyphenate in the digital world and provides best practices for managing a career with multiple income streams. There are interesting case studies and first-hand experiences from other ‘slashies’, and much-needed reminders, particularly in the current climate, that your work is not your worth.
2. Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig
Whether mental illness has affected you personally or not, Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive is a must-read. In the book, Haig reflects on his battle with anxiety and depression that almost lead to his suicide. Although raw and at times uncomfortable to read, the book is also peppered with positivity: the power of human connection, life’s little pleasures, and, as the title suggests, reasons to stay alive.
3. Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women, Otegha Uwagba
I am willing to bet that you may have already come across this little pocket-sized masterpiece but, if you haven’t yet, add it to your Amazon basket ASAP. Filled with practical, no-BS advice on everything from networking to negotiating pay, Otegha Uwagba’s Little Black Book is a freelancer’s best friend. It’s one of those that you’ll refer back to again and again.
4. The Discomfort Zone, Farrah Storr
We can likely all agree that discomfort is inevitable when you’re a freelancer. Whether presenting, public speaking, or hitting send on that pitch, we all experience moments that make us feel uneasy. In The Discomfort Zone, author Farrah Storr explains how to harness those discomforts, reframe them so they become empowering, and use them to progress by using what she calls the ‘BMD Method’ (brief moments of discomfort).
5. The Self-Care Project, Jayne Hardy
Far from the face masks we are sold by influencers for a sizeable cost, this self-care guide offers a fresh perspective. The Blurt Foundation founder explains what – at its core – self-care is all about, and provides journal prompts to encourage readers to turn inward and reflect on what changes need to be made in order to thrive.
6. The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss
An oldie but a goodie, Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek helps to deconstruct and reorganise everything we have been taught about how to earn a living. There are tasks and challenges to help you figure out exactly what it is you want to achieve and tried-and-tested methods to get you started. If you’re using this time to diversify, propel a side hustle, or experiment with ways to cut your workload whilst maintaining a comfortable income, read this now. And if you have already read it, read it again.
7. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy
‘“Those are dark clouds,” said the boy. “Yes, but they will move on,” said the horse, “the blue sky above never leaves.”’
Charlie Macksey’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is doing the rounds right now and for good reason. It’s the most comforting blend of Winnie-the-Pooh meets Matt Haig: beautiful illustrations and the most warming words that will fill you with happiness. Is it a book meant for adolescents? Maybe. But, regardless, its messages speak to everyone.
8. Open Up: Why Talking About Money Will Change Your Life, Alex Holder
Finances are at the forefront of our minds right now, so it’s time we took action on our cash situation whatever it may be. In Open Up, writer Alex Holder explains exactly how to approach finance discussions, whether with your partner or your employer, for positive outcomes. This book is especially beneficial for freelancers at risk of being underpaid or falling victim to the gender pay gap.
By Abbi Henderson