Freelancers don’t have to drop coins into the office coffee fund or attend largely pointless meetings.
Many of us can work in a library or a coffee shop, or on our backyard deck, where the only sound is chickadees or mourning doves.
But as nice as these things are, they can cause loneliness and isolation.
For some, this might mean a long day before the significant other comes home; for others, a feeling of just not being connected.
Sometimes this can mean feeling like freelancing isn’t “real” work or that one is cut off from the industry (accounting, graphic design, writing) at large.
So, here are some ways to cope if you’re feeling isolated in a bad way, rather than free in a good way.
It’s not hard to find networks of freelancers, both in your field and in others. You might join discussion groups, which can lead to some online relationships that will provide you with insight into what’s going on in your field.
Doing so will also reassure you that you’re not alone in certain struggles, among other things. If you do some searching, you may also find some conferences or other in-person meet-ups — they do exist.
Staying knowledgeable and connected can really help. Even if keeping abreast on the latest news in your field isn’t, explicitly, an interaction, it fights a feeling of just floating along on your own. It will also give you a good sense of what others are going through, which locates you in a type of universe or community.
Several months ago, I wrote an article on freelancers collaborating. This can mean doing guest blogging or otherwise moonlighting on someone else’s website — and vice versa — or collaborating with someone who has a different specialty on a project that has elements neither of you could do alone.
This is one of the most meaningful ways to fight isolation, since you and your collaborator will be directly impacting each other’s work lives. It very well may teach you a lot about your working style and about work in general.
Work Outside the Home
Not only should you, if you have a laptop or whatever it takes, take your show on the road a couple of times a week, but there are other ways to battle isolation.
Not long ago, I contributed a post on co-working spaces, which are big common areas where people can share resources like printers and fax machines. The benefits of these are multiple, but dealing with isolation is certainly one.
Talk About Work
Life-work balance is important, and it can involve leaving your work at work. When the work component of your life is done, shut it down and get on with your personal life. But if you’re battling a sense of alienation in terms of your work, maybe you’re not talking about it enough with family members and close friends.
Perhaps you’re partitioning it off too much. If you know that your friends are pretty up-to-date on what some of your struggles are, that makes the freelance work seem more real, vital and living. It isn’t a matter of you going into a strange, lonesome region. It couldn’t hurt to try talking about it, anyway.
Isolation is a real problem for many freelancers and even those who work from home. What do you do to counteract it?
(Photo by StatupStockPhotos / CC BY)
Thanks for admitting that sometimes working from home is not all it’s cracked up to be. For the most part, it’s better than going into an office building with 500 other worker bees making money for someone else, but there are downsides.
My work-at-home-freelance friends and I often Skype or use Google Hangouts to stay in touch. We try and get together physically face to face at least once a week. When you talk about collaboration, are you talking about doing virtual, face to face meetings and/or telephone calls?
Thanks again. Great article!
Glad you liked the essay. In terms of collaboration, I’m referring to working on projects together. Sometimes writings and graphic designers can work together; animators and code writers, etc. These collaborations would probably be virtual, maybe with skype, etc.
I’m really glad to read articles like yours and this one from lifehacker:
I’ve worked at home for almost a decade now and have to make time to get out of the house network and talk to people even if it’s simply about our dogs. I also found getting a dog helped as it provides me with times I have to go outside or take a walk.
Great post, I’m going to share it now!