Pause with intent and plan your best Contracting year yet.

Pause with intent and plan your best Contracting year yet.

Our blog will help you launch further success in 2023.

Celebrate yourself with purpose and build an even brighter future in the new year.

The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner and with that, some well-earned downtime for many of us. At Contracting PLUS, we’re always thinking about our clients and how we can make their Contracting lives simple. We know how hard Professional Contractors and Freelancers work and how much they deserve a break at the end of the year.

December can be a flurry of end-of-year celebrations, so here are some simple ways to rest, review and recharge. Don’t worry! This article isn’t suggesting new years’ resolutions or yoga retreats. We’re offering concrete steps to increasing your well-being and productivity so you can be the best Professional Contractor or Freelancer possible.

Smart Rest for Smart People

It’s easy to say: ‘Get some rest’ but that can be hard to do. Professional contractors and freelancers are busy people. They face hectic periods, many deadlines and rest can be difficult. Add in the Christmas period and space for rest can be hard to find. Here are some ways you can grab some quality rest so you can be your most productive and happy self.

  1. Sleeping like a baby: the myth

When we think of Rest, we usually think of sleep, but sleep and rest are not the same thing. Anyone who’s had a baby knows that most of them don’t sleep like that fabled baby. They have to learn and we have to show them. It’s the same for adults,  so if you’re not getting as much sleep as you’d like or you don’t feel rested after sleeping, you are not alone. But you can learn!

Matt Walker, eminent professor of Neuroscience, has one goal: ‘to reunite humanity with sleep’. If your sleep is less than optimal, Dr. Walker can help. Hop over to his podcasts https://www.sleepdiplomat.com/podcast and learn more. You’ll also find some great tips here to improve your sleep practices. Sleep is critical for our health, so spend some time investing in the quality of your sleep.

 

  1. Military rest training

The US Military understands the value of rest and trains its troops to rest fast and easily with simple breathing techniques. This technique can be used any time: to nap or if you wake in the middle of the night. Learn more here. It really works. The 10 minute nap can also be an instant revitaliser.

 

  1. Sleep and rest are not the same thing

We need several types of rest to feel really good. Even a few minutes each day focusing on these different types of rest can really make a real difference to your well-being.

  • We know physical rest is crucial but rest can be passive (sleeping) or active (yoga, stretching or massage). Both benefit you.
  • Get some mental Make sure you get reset breaks during your day. The Pomodoro method is a really great way to start. Allowing yourself to take structured short breaks is a great gift.
  • We need sensory rest. Our brains are crowded with over-stimulation from bright lights, computer screens, and background noise. Quick fixes are to close your eyes for a minute in the middle of the day and deliberately unplug devices at the end of every day. Treat yourself to some sensory deprivation. You’ll be happy you did.
  • Social rest plays a really important part in our mental health. Learning which relationships revive us, as opposed to those that tire us, is really important for our rest quotient. You know the people who sap your precious energy. Try to limit the time you spend with them. If you can’t avoid them, try these techniques to deal with energy vampires
  • Creative rest is critical for problem solving and brainstorming. It stimulates our sense of awe and wonder, which amplifies our creativity. You’ll find creative energy in appreciating nature (even your walk to work will help if you pay attention) and enjoying the arts (so play your tunes, go to a gig, visit your favourite place or look at images of your favourite works of art)

None of these type of rest require huge time investment. 10 minutes of looking at pictures of your favourite beach on Achill will boost your happy brain chemicals. Of course, heading over to Achill and walking on the beach is even better, but when you’re short on time, allowing your brain to go there will bring you some rest.

Review your year

  1. Congratulate yourself

Don’t worry – we’re not suggesting you get notions, but pausing to reflect on your accomplishments means increased self-esteem, which means good mental health. We all need to feel good about ourselves. Read more about why self-esteem is so important here.

For many contractors and freelancers, there are no annual reviews or bonuses and few touch points of achievement. This absence of positive feedback and praise can be difficult. Combine that with an Irish cultural bias against celebrating success and the need to acknowledge your achievements becomes even more critical to your future success. Taking pride in your accomplishments by celebrating them, even small ones, gives your self-esteem a boost. That’s highly motivating and sets you up to achieve more.

Stop to consider your achievements and efforts this year. This allows you to reflect on all the hard work you put into accomplishing the multitude of tasks we all take on every year.

Don’t discount efforts that don’t translate into achievements. They are still worthy of celebrating and will likely prove useful at some stage in the future. Making a list be what you’ve done in 2022 will help concentrate your mind and help you to see what worked so you can repeat it in the future. You might have had some seriously great wins this year. Congratulations! You might have just made it through. Congratulations too! You survived 2022. You got up every morning and you paid the bills. That’s more than enough reason to celebrate.

So celebrate your successes. If you’re finishing up a contract, make sure to ask your client for a testimonial. Get into the habit of running through your successes every evening before you go to sleep. Success ranges from managing to get out of bed and dressed when you really don’t feel like it, to winning a new contract and every point in between. Training your brain to recognise successes, not matter how small, is a process but practicing will help you feel good about yourself and your day. That will set you up for greater success in the future.

 

  1. Take care of YOU. Are you covered?

Health, Life and Illness protection are a must for professional contractors and freelancers. Here are some tips to help you make sure you’re protected.

 

  • Healthcare

Access to private medical care is a good idea for busy contractors who need to make sure they’re as healthy as possible. Contracting PLUS offers its contractors Healthcare coverage at a reduced rate with Laya Healthcare. As a member of the Contracting Plus Affinity scheme you can avail of a 10% discount on Control 150 Secure for you, your partner/spouse and dependant children. 

 

  • Sick pay

Protecting your income in the event of an illness is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. Don’t risk having to use your hard-earned savings to supplement your income if you get ill. Make sure you have illness cover so you can take care of your health without worry.

Critical Illness insurance will provide a lump sum in the event of certain illnesses while Income Protection will provide a steady income (up to 75% of your income in the event of illness). Income Protection offers the best protection and covers you for illness, injury or disability that stops you from doing your job and ensures you have a continuous monthly income until you get back to work. Our Dedicated Account Managers will introduce you to our in-house financial advisors who can explain this important cover.

 

  • Life insurance

Life insurance provides financial security for your dependents in the event of your premature death. This cover will pay out a lump sum on your death to clear any outstanding debts, cover funeral expenses and most importantly provide an income to your dependents to replace your earnings.

Our in-house financial advisors can tailor a personalised policy to suit you and your family’s needs. Good news! You can claim tax relief on these premiums.

If you haven’t already begun protecting your health, your income and your dependents, contact your Dedicated Account Manager. They’ll put you in touch with our in-house financial advisors who’ll help you review your options.

 

  1. Benchmark your pay rate

As a Professional Contractor, your daily rate of pay should be higher than that received as an employee with an equivalent role. When comparing your potential Contracting income to a permanent salary, you should account for a premium of at least 15% – 20%.

Start by comparing yourself to your peers. The latest research from Trinity Business School on the contracting industry is a great place to start: https://www.contractingplus.com/irelands-project-economy-2022/

There are many Irish salary guides out there and many feature both contract and PAYE salaries. Take a look at several guides, from leading recruitment companies, available online to compare salary information.  Or simply use our daily rate calculator to estimate your rate of pay.

 

  1. Is your pension on track?

Think about pensions now! Perhaps it’s time to look at contributing more to your existing pension or moving to a more tax-efficient pension. Did you know contributing to a pension through your company can be more tax efficient and the limits on the contributions you can make are significantly higher?

Your Dedicated Account Manager will put you in touch with our in-house financial advisors. They can help you understand where you can be doing more and help you to save for a brighter retirement. If you’re moving from a permanent position, they can also review your existing pension policies.

  1. What are your contracting plans?

If you’re likely to be contracting for the next year, maybe it’s time to consider setting up your own Personal Limited Company because that’s the very best way to maximise your income.

Having your own company means you can purchase a company car or subcontract out work. You can enjoy the widest range of tax breaks and expenses benefits while building wealth in the company.

You can switch into a Personal Limited Company for free easily. Contracting PLUS takes care of all the paperwork and manages the set-up process for you.

 

Recharge

Use your annual review to focus your mind.

Walking through the steps above will give you some concrete information about your Contracting and career path for next year.

You may have additional information to boost your CV from your successes review. You may have identified gaps or opportunities to upskill. Training is a great refresher for the mind. It’s a good idea to complete some professional development on a regular basis.

You might want to make a list of short, medium or long-term goals for 2023. Don’t overcommit yourself. Concentrate on the goal that brings you highest value (be that financial, creative, intellectual, health – whatever you deem most important).

Get inspired. 15 minutes of a tremendous Ted Talk can set you up for a great day. Check out the top 25 Ted Talks of all Time and get ready to boost your life.

And get some rest! Now you know how!

And so you’re ready!

We hope you spring into the new year with the help of these tips and the support of award-winning service from Contracting PLUS behind you.

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