Want to know one investment you can make that will ripple across both your business and personal life? It’s, finding a way to invest in yourself. That might sound crazy, but it’s so, so important for online business owners, freelancers, solopreneurs, and side hustlers because part of the job is being available all of the time for a lot of different people.
You’re working hard every freaking day (seriously, it can be seven days a week), growing your business, putting out fires, managing your workload and clients, etc. You probably don’t often stop for much self-care, and that needs to change.
By not taking time for yourself, you run the risk of burnout, stress, anxiety, and even depression. In addition to protecting your mental health, finding ways to invest in yourself can make you more productive, healthier, and happier.
Investing in yourself isn’t always about finances – it can be time, energy, mental or physical output that gives you a significant personal or professional ROI. By investing in yourself now, you are helping yourself and everyone else around you. It’s like the airplane metaphor… put your oxygen mask on first. You’ve gotta help yourself before you can take care of anyone else.
Here are 12 ways to invest in yourself
Read anything and everything
Finding time in your day, even just 20 minutes, to sit down in a quiet spot to read is one of the best ways to invest in yourself for a lot of different reasons. Reading can shut down whatever else is happening around you, teach you something new, take you somewhere you’ve never been, and even help you fall asleep at night.
Daily reading is one of the most commonly shared traits by some of the most successful business owners. Spoiler: Warren Buffet claims to spend 5-6 hours per day reading newspapers!
You can read newspapers, books, blogs, magazines, and even audiobooks count as reading. You can have fun with things like the Read Harder Challenge, library book clubs, or reading along with a friend.
Find a favorite podcast, or five
Podcasts are a lot like reading benefit wise, plus the podcast world is so plentiful that anyone can find a genre or niche that they like, here are some top picks from the Laptop Empires team:
- Mike loves the marketing and entrepreneurial podcasts More Cheese Less Whiskers and The Sunny Show, and he gets away from work with Serial.
- Bobby’s enjoys the true crime favorite Criminal and Binge Mode from The Ringer.
- Katherine gets marketing wisdom from Casual Friday and laughs along with Hello from the Magic Tavern.
- Erin listens to Live Free Creative Co. for intentional living inspiration and gets fired up about Choose FI.
- Ariel doesn’t miss an episode of the internet/culture show Reply All, nerds out with Freakonomics, and wishes there was more S-Town.
And, don’t forget about the Laptop Empires podcast, which is solid, weekly advice for online business owners.
Organize your day and week
As a side hustler, freelancer, or entrepreneur, your tasks probably vary on a weekly and daily basis. You also probably have a lot of other things going on, like family, kids, other jobs, friends, pets, etc. Let’s just say that you have a lot of balls in the air.
One of the best things you can do to invest in yourself is to find a way to manage the chaos by creating a little order. This can be as simple as finding a good workflow app like Asana, making to-do lists, front-loading your day, or just keeping a calendar.
Gain control of your finances
Not going to lie, financial self-care is a big one. But, the implications of your work and personal life are HUGE.
Money is actually the number one cause of stress, and that’s why gaining control of your financial situation, or at the very least understanding it, can be an investment in yourself. Here are the best ways to reduce your stress by becoming a better money manager:
- Create a budget. Whether you use pen and paper, Excel spreadsheets, or a personal finance app like Mint or Personal Capital, a budget organizes your finances in one place. It helps you see how much money you have coming in and out every week and is a core principle of personal finance.
- Pay off your debt. Debt is a hard burden to bear, and it can take some people years to become debt free. Need advice or support? Millennial Money Man has a ton of great articles about destroying debt and working towards financial independence.
- Save for your future. Having money stashed away is protecting yourself from future financial burdens and how you’ll one day retire. It’s never too late to start saving and investing, and the best place to start is by setting aside an emergency fund of at least $1,000.
Write things down
Do you ever feel like you’re in your head too much? Like, you can’t focus on what’s going on around you because you’re caught up with what you need to do next or experiencing strong feelings about what’s happening in your life. If that sounds like you, then invest in yourself by grabbing a notebook and writing out what’s in your head.
You could think of this as journaling or making a to-do list, but it’s just pulling things out of your head so that they don’t just sit there and prevent you from focusing on what’s happening right now.
Take a break when you need to
There’s an impulse in the online business community to don’t-stop-keep-working. Part of that is because you can work anywhere and anytime, but it leads to burnout. From time to time, give yourself permission to take a break and refresh yourself.
Go for a walk. Take a run. Soak in the tub. Call a friend. Snuggle with your dog. Read a book. Watch some Netflix. You can take time off here and there and still be a badass boss.
For more on taking a break, listen to Episode 13: The Importance of Taking Time Off as an Entrepreneur.
Invest in yourself by finding a coach or mentor
A coach or mentor is someone who has more experience and knowledge about business and/or life, and both can help you identify your needs, motivations, and goals. The key difference between the two is that a mentor is more of a trust-based, long-term relationship, and a mentor/mentee relationship is also a little more informal and fluid. Coaches are often more short-term support for specific skills and advice.
If you are struggling in a specific aspect of your life or business, both coaches and mentors are there to support you.
Diversify your income
Creating multiple income streams is one of the best ways to protect yourself from future changes in the job market and economy. You can diversify by finding passive sources of income or a side hustle. This will give you some financial peace of mind.
Set boundaries for yourself and sometimes challenge them
If you’re overwhelmed with obligations, then you might be agreeing to too many things for too many people – not at all uncommon for freelancers and online business owners. Setting limitations on what you’re willing to do can take some effort, but it’s a good way to protect your mental health.
On the flip side of that, occasionally pushing against your boundaries and trying new things is a great way to invest in yourself so you don’t stagnate or become complacent. Challenges teach a lot about who you are and help you gain confidence.
Take up a hobby or craft
Don’t ever think that hobbies are a frivolous waste of time – they help you destress, promote creativity, and provide numerous health benefits. One of the awesome things about hobbies is that you can enjoy them without being an expert, so much less stress than your job.
You can take up gardening, woodworking, knitting, drawing, photography, cooking, etc. There is really just something incredibly satisfying about using your hands to create things.
Outsource when it makes sense
Saving money is awesome, but sometimes you need to spend a little money to make even more of it. Outsourcing can be a way to invest in yourself in both your work or personal life. If there are tasks you dread doing, procrastinate on, or don’t excel at, consider what it would mean to reclaim the time you spend on those tasks. Could you earn more or be more productive if you were able to devote that time to other areas of your business or personal life?
Virtual assistants are one of the best options for bloggers and online entrepreneurs, and they can do all sorts of things like:
- Make appointments
- Answer emails
- Manage your social media accounts
- Organize your calendar
- There are even Pinterest virtual assistants to manage your Pinterest account
In addition to virtual assistants for your business, you can use Instacart for groceries, Blue Apron for meal prep, and find someone to run everyday errands on TaskRabbit. Occasionally check in with what you’re outsourcing so that you’re not wasting money on convenience.
Make sleep a priority
You’re supposed to get around 7-9 hours of sleep every night, but is that happening for you? A good night’s sleep increases productivity, boosts your mood, and is good for your body. And yes, there are some people who can do with a little less sleep, but know your body and invest in yourself by getting enough shut-eye.
If you do struggle with getting a full night’s sleep, power naps are a legit way to keep yourself functioning at a high level.
Final word on how to invest in yourself
For your business and personal life, you sometimes have to make your well-being priority number one. Whether that’s self-care, outsourcing, getting your finances in order, whatever… you have to take care of yourself before you can be the most awesome version of you.
Finding time or reasons to invest in yourself can be tough, but give a couple of these ideas a try. It can be hard to get into a practice of taking care of yourself, but they will eventually become routines that fit seamlessly into your life.