As a freelancer, you’ll experience some awesome things… never having to get out of your jammies if you don’t want to, working from home when it’s cold outside, determining your own work hours and choosing who you work with.
But what about the white elephant in the room? Sure, all of these things are great, and you’ll definitely experience more highs than lows, but what happens when you feel isolated, or lonely? You no longer have access to people you can chat to around the water cooler… so what can you do?
NO! You do not throw in the towel and get yourself a job, lol! You learn to combat this by following some of these strategies — these are the strategies I use when I start to feel lonely.
[Tweet “You do not throw in the towel and get yourself a job, lol!”]
5 Strategies for Coping with Freelancer Isolation
#1 Plan out your day
Come on, this one is pretty obvious. I’ve talked about different ways you can plan out your day in a previous post, and this is no different. If you don’t have a plan in place, isolation and loneliness can creep in very quickly.
You need to stick to some type of plan. It doesn’t need to be set in stone, it can change, but the key is making sure that your day is planned out (to the extent that you want it to be).
For example, each night before I head to bed, I’ll review what I’ve got going on over the next few days and check out my schedule, move things around to suit what I want to do and then I’m all set.
I use the Mind & Body Refresh schedule from The Productive Person. If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend you check it out. I’ve tweaked mine to suit me, which is the key.
Here’s a snapshot of what a typical week looks like for me:
Make sure you set up social stuff in your calendar as well. Meet with friends for lunch or a coffee, just like you would have when you were 'working' 🙂
#2 Connect with other freelancers
This one may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many new freelancers I've spoken to who haven't made any connections. There are loads of different places you can connect with other people who are doing what you're doing.
Check out groups on Facebook, chats on Twitter and groups on LinkedIn. Goolge+ has a fairly large community of freelancing groups as well.
The key is to search and find the ones that work best for you. Personally, I started out with a local meetup.com group full of freelance writers. We met once a month for a coffee and a chat, and it was great to be able to speak to others who were doing what I was doing.
Co-working spaces are also a great way to connect with like-minded people. My husband and I will be checking out CAMP in Chiang Mai while we are there, as it's a great place to meet other digital nomads and freelancers.
Don't miss this important strategy!
#3 Do the things that make you happy
Don't become a workaholic. It's really easy to do, particularly when you're doing something you love, or working on a really exciting project.
Which is why it's really important to still do the things that make you happy, still participate in your hobbies and interests, go to the movies, hit the gym, go for long walks, whatever it is for you, just make sure that you keep doing it.
Use your creative side if you don't already, and do something fun every few days to boost your productivity and to reconnect with the things you love to do.
Remember how I said you need to schedule in meeting up with people, social activities etc? You also need to make sure that you're not spending 8 hours a day, sitting at your desk. You need to get up and move, whether that's to exercise or simply to take a quick 10 minute break, don't remain seated all day.
Movement will get your juices flowing again and help you feel good. Personally, when I'm feeling a little lonely, I take myself outside to the park, walk around, sit in the sun and just enjoy being around other people. Sometimes you don't need to talk to anyone, you just need to know you're not alone...
#5 Plan holidays
Maybe one of the reasons you wanted to get into freelancing was so that you could travel more and spend more time with your family and friends. If this isn't happening, then you need to rectify that.
Don't use your new freelancing career as an excuse not to go on holidays. Plan one with your friends or family, do the things you said you were going to do when you went full-time as a freelancer. Don't let your work take over your life.
It can easily happen, so making a conscious effort to plan holidays will help with this.
Feeling isolated is a sucky feeling. It will happen, there really isn't anyway to avoid it. Even if you are regularly meeting up with people or going to co-working places, at some point, you will feel isolated, whether because you feel like you're missing out on some event your old colleagues are organising or you're just sitting at home not really motivated... isolation can creep in at any time.
Use these strategies to get yourself out of this slump and back into the land of the happy!
Do you have your own strategies for coping with isolation? I'd love to hear about them, so leave your comments below.