Tips for surviving winter as a freelancer

How I survive winter without frostbite, fractures or an extortionate heating bill

Winter can be hard for freelancers. Your heating bills are huge, you freeze your butt off for 3 months and you’re constantly scared you’re going to slip on ice and put yourself out of business. I used to worry about staying warm and in one piece but I don’t any more because I now have fail-proof ways to get through winter without eye-watering bills or a trip to A&E.

How I stay warm

My flat feels like Greenland at times but when I’ve gone to the corner shop (for milk not Creme Eggs you understand), I’ve discovered that it’s not that cold at all, it’s just that I’ve been sitting down for long lengths of time so it’s felt colder.

Here are a few ways I keep warm without thrashing the central heating or wearing everything I own:

  • I often move to my kitchen as it’s easier to heat than my large front room and I turn off radiators in the rooms I’m not using. Sometimes I even put the gas burners on for a while to heat the kitchen quicker.
  • I put a rather lovely draught excluder in the shared communal hallway in front of the front door as well as in the doorway to my own flat – this one makes a huge difference to the temperature of my home.
  • I often wear a [easyazon_link identifier=”B0088ATYRY” locale=”UK” tag=”vahandbook-21″]Helly Hanson Base Layer top[/easyazon_link] under my jumper. It’s a really well-known brand that was recommended to me by a friend who goes sailing. It’s very thin, really does the job plus I think it makes me look quite sexy in a Jane Bond kinda way!
  • I put [easyazon_link identifier=”B004P8I708″ locale=”UK” tag=”vahandbook-21″]lambswool innersoles[/easyazon_link] inside my trainers. These are really cheap and make a massive difference to how warm my feet are.
  • I wear thermal vests and thermal knee socks. The vests are black and not the colour of a dirty bandage so I don’t feel like Thora Hird and, if truth be told, I actually wear knee socks for around eight months of the year anyway!
  • Bizarrely, I recently bought a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00PYMQD3C” locale=”UK” tag=”vahandbook-21″]mini exercise bike[/easyazon_link] that goes under my desk. It wasn’t that expensive but means I now not only get some exercise throughout the day, all the cycling keeps me warm too.
  • I’ve been doing the Pomodoro Technique lately and during my five minute breaks I’ve been running up and down the stairs, doing lunges and squats and generally moving my static, unfit carcass around the place.
  • Extreme weather calls for extreme measures and sometimes only a hot water bottle on the lap or feet will do! Cheap, cheerful and focused heating.

The Pomodoro and mini exercise bike ones are great because they’re dual purpose. Freelancers can be pretty immobile (my Pebble watch’s pedometer tells me I’m a lazy bum) so any extra movement I can do is a bonus. I’m not a big fan of exercise if truth be told.

TIP – I’m renowned for always being inappropriately dressed for the weather so I actually have stick-on thermometer in the window so I know how cold it is before I leave the house!

How I stay warm and safe in winter

How I don’t break my wrist and put myself out of business

It doesn’t really snow much beside the sea in Brighton but a few years ago there was loads of snow which immediately compacted, froze over and became a death trap for pedestrians.

People were falling everywhere and A&E was rammed with poor souls with broken bones. Brighton is really hilly and the roads were absolutely treacherous (I just wanted to sound like a weather girl and get that word in there!) and I was really worried that I’d also slip over and break my wrist or something equally painful and debilitating.

So what did I do?

Well first I simply didn’t leave the house and just nervously watched people crawling over the ice on their hands and knees (I kid you not) at the intersection, but then I ordered some of these [easyazon_link identifier=”B005Q9JI0S” locale=”UK” tag=”vahandbook-21″]rubber overshoe things[/easyazon_link] which are simply AWESOME.

You just slip them over your wellies or trainers and you can actually run full-pelt on the ice or snow and not fall over. You do sound a little clip-cloppy in a shop, but a fiver is a small price to pay for not breaking a wrist!

In fact I thought they were so good that I bought some for my Dad. He’s getting on a bit and I was worried about him slipping over in the mud when taking the dog for a walk in the woods. He never remembers to wear them of course, but that’s beside the point!


I also use a nasal spray thing called First Defence (by Vicks) when I feel a cold coming on. I kid you not, this stuff is absolutely incredible.

It came recommended and I took some one afternoon just before I left to go to my parents for the weekend. On the train there I got worse and worse and by the time I arrived at my folks my head hurt, my neck hurt and even my teeth hurt. I kept sniffing the First Defence and when I woke up in the morning I was right as rain with not even a hint that I had been sick.

This stuff is like magic I tell you. 

Again, I know some of this stuff might sounds really obvious but a lot of it was trial and error for me. It’s really easy to just whack the heating up but you’ll definitely be sorry when the bill comes in. You could always put on a jumper or some fingerless gloves and get up against the radiator, but these other little things made such a big difference and I thought it was worth sharing them with you.

Over to you

Your turn. What tips do you have for staying toasty and safe in the cold weather without turning the heating up to tropical, wrapping yourself in a duvet or wearing a (cosy but hideous) slanket?



hahaha! Jo once again you’re on the money with what I need and when.
The Pomodoro Technique is awesome, I’m loving using it. I can believe the difference in my concentration. Also, I had never though about lambswool insoles but it looks like I shall be investing in them.

Thanks as always x

Joanne Munro

You’re welcome. The innersoles get worn down quite quickly but they’re really cheap and stop the cold coming through the soles of your shoes. The difference is remarkable actually.


I have the grips for my shoes and I knit finger-less mittens too! I can also recommend a small lap dog..although he does get in the way of typing a bit!!

Finally I have an insurance policy that covers me in case I have an accident and break something, it pays out in case I am in hospital overnight too.


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