Managing Coronavirus: A Self Employed Perspective

By Jamie Windust,
updated on Apr 2, 2020

Managing Coronavirus: A Self Employed Perspective

With Covid-19 set to be a permanent fixture in our lives for the coming weeks and months, Happiful is sharing personal perspectives and professional responses to the virus, in the hope of providing actionable advice, alternative viewpoints and normalising the wide-range of human behaviours that emerge in response to uncertainty

Award winning editor, writer, public speaker and model Jamie Windust shares how social distancing has changed their perspective on productivity, success and what might be important moving forward as someone who is self employed.

Productivity and success are two entities that are often so easily conflated. The world tells us, to be successful, you must be constantly productive and, if you aren’t productive, you will no longer be successful. It’s as if there’s a barometer of productivity; once you reach the limit, success will just flow directly into your life. A duality that often makes us feel like we are never allowed to take a break because, if we do so, our success and careers will stop.

Self-employed people and freelancers feel this fight on such a larger scale. Situations like we are in now - with Coronavirus, and a complete standstill of life as we know it - can spiral us into making us feel like we will never be successful again. It shines a light on the precarity of the many industries that we work in as freelancers, and allows us to feel like we have failed, even though none of this is directly our fault.

Email by email, our job security, projects, passions, were being dissolved into thin air

A few days prior to stricter social distancing, me, and many friends and colleagues of mine who work in live events, public speaking, the arts and modelling industries, woke up to see work in our calendars just disappear. Email by email, our job security, projects, and passions, were being dissolved into thin air.

At first I thought it was maybe overcautious, and that it would just be a couple of jobs that would cancel. However, throughout the day, the continuous stream of ‘Unfortunately we have to...’ was becoming a reality that we didn’t see coming.

It’s often easy, as a self employed person, to feel like when cancellations and precarity with job security happens, it’s only happening to us. Despite the fact that we can look around, and now specifically see those ‘traditionally’ employed allocated seats on our boats, it still feels like the self-employed, and zero hours workers are at the bottom of the pile, having to fix our dismantled schedules all on our own.


Jamie Windust

Adapting to the ‘new normal’

The lockdown situation we are in is something we (hopefully) won’t see again in our lifetime, but is truly a moment where we have all (no matter what our job is) have had to adapt. The world around us has changed dramatically here in the UK, over the course of a just few weeks. With the majority of us now working from home, and having to change not just our working routines but our daily personal routines, we have also found ways to adapt.

Scheduled live events, panels, seminars, workshops and key-note speeches have all been postponed, but what has been a glimmer of hope for me, is seeing the LGBTQ+ organisations that I work with continue to use their fire and fight to make these events happen. For the young queer people who will benefit from seeing the talks, to us, the speakers, still being able to work, do what we love, and be paid.

Although not ideal, it’s been an interesting time for us multi-hyphenates, as we are having to question the very methods that we used day in, day out, for years prior to this. We are coming up with new ways of producing work, and distributing our words to the world.

We are able to see a glimmer into a world that has put the breaks on, and is allowing us to navigate its waters with a little more ease

Alongside our own personal mental health journeys with the lockdown, we are also able to see a glimmer into a world that has put the breaks on, and is allowing us to navigate its waters with a little more ease. As a self-employed person, thinking back to what was stressing me out with work prior to this almost feels silly now, and in a way it’s allowed us to put into perspective what matters and what doesn’t.

I hope that we are able to continue this mentality when we leave lockdown, and that companies, and the people we work for realise that slower pace of life, will help our mental healths’ collectively for the rest of our lives.

Words of Advice

My advice to those who are struggling, both mentally, and physically, with your personal routines, and work routines, is to know that there is no one way to be doing this. We are not all the same, and those rules still apply.

Just because everyone you see on social media is creating new content, writing books, and starting podcasts left right and centre, doesn’t mean that they’re also not laid in bed for six hours questioning what they’re going to do in two weeks. You don’t have to write a book. You don’t have to sit at your desk refreshing your emails, only to realise that they’re not coming. You don’t have to do anything right now, if you don’t want to.

Financial pressures for the self-employed are through the roof, and although we have been allocated government assistance, it’s OK to be stuck. It’s OK to be torn, and not know what to do. We all don’t. Just because some people look like their lives haven’t changed at all, doesn’t mean that we aren’t all paddling under the water, trying to find solace in what is a truly unique situation.

Remember to breathe, remember to rationalise, and remember that this isn’t your fault. Really try and get to grips with what you can control right now, and see if, day by day, you can work out how to make your daily routine work for you. Even if your desk has to be on top of the washing machine or if that means just going for your daily allocated exercise, find one thing and make it yours right now - because it will remind you of the normality that we are craving.

Support your fellow self-employed people in your industry. Share their work, buy their work if you can, and take care of yourself.

Most importantly, remember that this is happening to everyone, it’s not personal to you. Your career isn’t over. They’re not emailing everyone else, and purposefully leaving you out, that’s your inner saboteur speaking.

We are all in a moment of newness, panic, and change, and there is no one way to be dealing with this situation. There is only your way.

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