One of the perks of being a freelancer is the flexibility of working from home. This perk can, however, turn around to become a huge problem.
For me, in the beginning, working alone was quite satisfying. I felt empowered by the possibilities of making decisions without consulting a boss or colleague. I set my work hours, worked from anywhere, and only with clients I wanted to work with. The possibilities were endless.
However, one of the things I didn’t count on was the loneliness that comes with freelancing.
It had never occurred to me that the independence of working from home could breed a special kind of loneliness. Everything I did to make my business succeed was dependent on me alone, and I rarely had people in my space to bounce ideas off. I had to face most problems alone and often felt overwhelmed.
Before the experience, I always imagined I would flourish as an introverted freelancer working alone, especially as my favourite ideas have come to me when I was by myself. To some extent, I know I enjoy working alone but I have noticed that I start to feel miserable after working by myself for extended periods of time.
If you’re currently in my shoes, don’t fuss; I have put together a few tips that help me combat isolation as a freelancer.
Work Outside Your Home Office
If you have set up a home office, and loneliness has started to creep up on you more often than not, consider working from outside your home at least twice a week.
Get out of the house, and work around other people for a change. This could mean using a co-working space where you share an office with other freelancers or you rent a desk in a business centre or private office.
Coffee shops, public libraries, restaurants or even the home of another freelancer (I’ve done this a couple of times and it’s so refreshing) are great places to work from to prevent yourself from being isolated. The idea is to get out there and interact with other people once in a while. It rejuvenates your brain and gives you the opportunity to make new friends and clients.
Collaborate With Other Freelancers
Find freelancers around you who you can work with and collaborate with on projects together. It could be a freelancer within your industry or a complementary space where your skills are relevant.
For instance, if you are a web developer, you could collaborate with another web developer or a graphic designer. Both bring benefits and new relationships.
Connect With a Freelancer Community
Joining a community will help you combat loneliness as you not only get to socialize with people like you, you also meet ones who can offer you support when you need it.
Freelancer communities like Week of Saturdays are great places to meet like minds who are probably going through the same emotions as you. Look for a close-knit and active community where you can feel involved, connect with peers, and arrange meet-ups once in a while. When you meet people who are going through the same struggles or who have gone through similar struggles as you, you are able to handle things better and offer each good advice to others as well.
Attend networking events
Networking is a truly great way to meet other professionals and make friends. Most of us find this overwhelming, especially introverts; but once in a while, we have to push ourselves and make moves to attend events and meet specific people.
A weekly hourly meetup can make a huge difference when it comes to combating loneliness. If you can’t find any decent meetups for people like you around you, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to start your own.
Remember that you are not alone. There’s rising levels of depression and isolation amongst freelancers and other professionals too.
Have more tips on how we can combat isolation? Share in the comment section below.