As a freelancer, how do you stay disciplined? How do you juggle it all? Don’t you get lonely? Surely, you’ve heard them all.
Yes, all of these are challenges freelancers face, but they are all well worth the pay-offs. These challenges are easy to overcome if you embrace them as part of the game and tackle them head-first.
Loneliness as a freelancer specifically build-up from working remotely by yourself and having a career that most of your friends and family don’t fully understand. You face a different set of opportunities and hurdles than your peers do. You make day-to-day decisions that are difficult to empathize with if you’ve never freelanced.
Additionally, society and school don’t prepare us with discussions around dealing with the loneliness of an ambitious career. It’s assumed that after graduation, we will work in some kind of workplace. But for a growing number of us, this is not the case.
With more people turning to freelance as a viable career, and with entrepreneurs creating products, services, tools and events catering to us, it’s more possible than ever to avoid and overcome loneliness as a freelancer. Why is this important? Because research shows that loneliness can be bad for your health. If you’re focused on being a happy, healthy, here are some specific things you can do to ensure you don’t fall into the loneliness trap!
1) Changing your workplace
Changing up your workplace doesn’t mean you have to join a co-working space or leave your house for the entire day. However, it is beneficial to make a conscious effort to surround yourself with other people to avoid loneliness.
Going to a co-working space part-time has made a big difference. Surrounding yourself with fellow creatives and people who enjoy flexible schedules is an easy and quick way to feel fulfilled and motivated. Such environments will refresh you with a special type of energy. They’ll make you want to get stuff done and pursue more. Plus, you’re far less likely to be browsing Facebook in the middle of the day when other people can see your computer screen.
2) Engage in social outings
Consider time-blocking your schedule with work time, productive social time, exercise, relax time, etc. We’ve learned previously that this is how many of today’s leading freelancers maximize their schedules.
Similar to co-working, getting coffee, tea, or going for a walk with friends, colleagues, clients or mentors will help you fight loneliness and feel energized. When you break up your day with social time, it’s easier to create blocks of time for focused work.
Attending professional or industry events help too. Make some time each month for educational or networking events. In addition to face-to-face time with real, live people, these are opportunities to build lasting relationships with people in (or out of) your industry.
3) Have meetings with clients
Your only touch point doesn’t have to be with fellow freelancers. Having face-to-face meetings in person or through video chat can help prevent loneliness as well. They’ll also help satisfy what you could be missing from an office environment.
Work some quick social catch-up time with your clients into the meeting. Ask them how their weekend was, how they’re family is, what they’re reading, or if they’ve seen a good film lately. Being genuinely interested in your clients will strengthen your relationship with them as well. It may sound obvious, but having that point of contact with someone will make you feel more accountable and motivated to work on their projects. Simply put, brainstorms and collaborations help ideas become stronger and work become more fun.
4) Pick up a hobby or extracurricular activity
Not to mention, psychology is a great area to be well versed in when working with clients.
Picking up a hobby that forces you to spend time with people outside of your industry can be helpful to triggering creativity. The experience will provide you with new ways of looking at problems and allow yourself social time without feeling like you have to be working. We suggest finding an group to test out new hobbies till you find what you enjoy doing.
Another option is to spend some of your spare time beefing up skills that do relate to your work. Consider taking a class to learn anything from new digital marketing techniques to coding with fellow professionals. Workout classes and exercising is another area you can spend your extracurricular time on. This is a healthy way to get in both your social time and healthier and happier mind and body.
5) Get a pet
We understand that this isn’t an option for everyone, but having a cat or dog can do wonders for reducing loneliness.
Having a pet can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and feelings of loneliness. And of course, they increase your opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization.
Having a dog, especially, means going for walks, spending time in parks and making time for play breaks. Much like children, having a dog means having a routine. They usually wake up at the same time each day, need to be fed, walked, etc. For you, having a routine means consistency and stability. You’ll be more productive with a furry companion.
Generating awareness around how you’re spending your time, and who or what you’re spending your time with is the first step to overcome loneliness. If you find yourself working around the clock by yourself, allow yourself a weekend to go do something fun. We all need breaks, or else we’ll breakdown.
Try building in social and professional networking time into your routine. If you want to learn more how the freelancers in our community overcome loneliness, join Malaysia’s largest freelance community, Freelancing.my today.