Low-cost ways to keep your mind active when not working

In the ‘new normal’, self-employment and home working are a lot more common. Even if you are not currently freelancing, it’s important to keep driving your business forward as well as improving your mental and physical health.

Here are top tips on how to keep busy when not freelancing.

To help your business

Self-employed person e-learning

1. Keep learning

There is always time to learn a new skill or add to your armoury of knowledge. To help you maximise your spare time, sign up for regular newsletters and training webinars. There are also some comprehensive free online courses available.

Alison offers a variety of free course types focusing on practical skills including certificate, diploma, and learning path courses from languages, IT, and business to software engineering, skilled trades, and marketing. Courses start at about two hours long and you receive a certificate of completion at the end.

The Oxford Home Study Centre has a range of courses if you want to gain a deeper and wider knowledge of a topic with many course durations starting at an impressive 20 hours. There are more than 40 courses to choose from including life coaching, fashion, and interior design.

2. Use social media

Like it or not, social media is a great source of information and leads, but sometimes you have to search for these nuggets. If you are a small business, it is great for connecting directly with an engaged audience to build brand awareness and loyalty. Even better, social media is also an effective platform for generating new leads. It is also free and sometimes fun!

3. Network online

Very different to social media, online networking events are really popular at the moment. You can find a list of free online networking events on Eventbrite.

For £19.99 a month, UK company 4Networking offer six online meetings every weekday and you can attend as many or as few as you like. You can also host a meeting and present your ideas to new collaborators.

4. Research the competition 

It is always healthy to know who your competition is and learn more about them. Set some questions to answer about your competition like what do they specialise in, how do they advertise what they do, what do they charge and who do they work for?

5. Build an email list and spruce up your website

Go through all your email contacts and categorise them into different lists so that you are not scratching your head thinking about who to email for an opportunity. This will take a long time but only needs to be done once and it is just as satisfying as a spring clean. If you have a website, spruce it up by making sure your SEO is relevant to ensure you are ranking highly on those Google searches.

To help yourself

1. Keep your mind happy

There are some brilliant apps to support positive mental health that are free and easy to use. Moodfit is a free app that helps you get into mental shape. There are many features including guides to help understand your feelings, tracking moods, and even learning new skills like mindfulness in just a few minutes per day.

Self-employed worker walking on a break

2. Incorporate exercise into your routine

Running is more physically demanding and perceived to be a ‘better’ workout, but walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise. It is an extremely effective physical activity if you walk at a brisk pace, not to mention the mental boost walking can give you. For those of us who may have added a little extra weight recently, brisk walking for 45 minutes mobilises the body to dip into energy reserves and burn stored fat.

3. Volunteer from home

There is a lot you can do to help others by phone. For example, Call in Time is a free telephone friendship service from charity Age UK that matches you with older members of the public to have a weekly 30-minute chat together. As a volunteer, you'd befriend someone who's 60 or over. It's a fun, safe and an easy way to help from the comfort of your own home.

Overall, making use of the precious spare time you have by keeping your mind active can make a big difference in taking your business to the next level and also keeping your mind sharp and happy.  

Meet the author

Mark Captain