5 Tips for Coping with Freelance Isolation
If you tell a group of people that you work from home, they’ll probably be jealous.
Having the freedom to work through the night and not worry about setting our alarms in the morning is nice, but there are downsides. Those of us who have done it know that it can often be a lonely, isolating experience.
Don’t let the isolation of working from home lead to sloth and loneliness! Here are a few tips to help you stay focused and positive while working from home:
1. Make a Schedule, Stick to it, and Stay Busy
When your schedule is full, there’s little time for loneliness. Even designating time to eat lunch, do the laundry, or read a book will introduce some structure to your day and help keep your mind occupied.
First, you need to figure out when you get your best work done. According to our Freelancers Union Facebook community, most of you seem to get your work done in the wee hours of the morning or as you close in on the deadline.
From there you should be able to actually get work done during those peak creative hours that you’ve delegated for yourself. If you know that you have a hard time concentrating at a certain point in the day, why force it? You make your own schedule, so you’re responsible for setting your work hours.
Don’t attempt to get any mid-afternoon work done if you know it’s a difficult time for you to concentrate. It also might help to schedule specific tasks for certain points in the day.
Just as we all have our own peak creative times in the day, some of us can stay concentrated on our work for longer periods of time. If you’re losing focus, stand up, do something totally unrelated to work for a few minutes, and get back to it.
The most important thing is to never force yourself to work when your body and brain are telling you not to.
2. Work it Out
Exercise doesn’t have to be a 2-hour ordeal. It doesn’t even have to include a trip to the gym or a change of clothes. Taking 10 minutes out for some simple stretches, hopping on your bike for a ride around town, or a jog around the block will help you to clear your mind and return to work revitalized.
What if it’s too cold out or you just don’t feel like going outside? Meditation is a great way to clear your mind. It might feel a bit silly at first, but if you just work at it, it can make you more creative, smarter, and more focused.
Pushups? Situps? You could even get a pullup bar and put it in your door frame. Believe me, I don’t want to spend hours at the gym either. Quick 10 minute bursts sound much better, right? Your brain and body will thank you.
3. Remember Old Friends and Make New Friends
Whether you meet a friend for lunch, call your dad, go to a meet-up or networking event, supplementing your regular e-mail and IM chats with real face-to-face meetings or phone conversations is a great way to stay social while working from home.
You can also take this time out to reconnect with former co-workers and reach out to other freelancers in your area (our freelancer directory might be a good place to start). There are millions of freelancers just like you out there. Be sure to say hi! You never know what might happen.
4. Discover Your Hidden Talents and Interests
Regardless of the activity, keeping your mind active is a good strategy for combating loneliness. Maybe you want to learn how to play the guitar or just want to read more. If you’re working from home, chances are you have no obligation to be in one place for 8 or more hours per day, so take advantage of it.
Think about it, while most people are working in an office, yoga classes are basically empty, nobody’s at the museum, and you can ride your bike through the park without having to watch out for that sea of children, runners, and other bikers that you’d have to weave through on any given Saturday afternoon.
When you’re making that schedule we mentioned, be sure to pencil an hour in for developing a new interest or hobby!
5. Give Co-Working a Shot
If you didn’t get the memo, traditional office spaces are out.
Independent workers will account for 40% of the workforce by 2020, and as they grow, so has the number of coworking spaces. People aren’t just going for the free wifi and coffee; these spaces are providing opportunities for independent workers to gather, share ideas, discuss, and collaborate on projects.
If working from home blurs the lines between your personal and professional life too much for you, there is a community of people just like you sitting in a coworking space nearby. Try it out!
Has the isolation of working from home been an issue for you? What strategies have worked for you?