How to Avoid Isolation as a Freelancer
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One of the biggest challenges facing freelancers today is making sure they have access to a community. Working online has plenty of benefits, but in light of that fact, we are still in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, and it's very easy to find yourself spending far too many hours in front of the computer and not enough time networking, communicating and interacting with others.
The joy of running your own company and delivering projects to clients getting paid to work from your pajamas will quickly wear off if you don't have a plan to interact with others and to continue to build communication and collaborative skills. Avoiding isolation is key for your ability to stay motivated in your business, but it is also critical for your personal mental health. Here are my favorite tips to avoid isolation.
Seek out online communities
It's unlikely that your spouse or others in your personal world who don't freelance truly understand what you do. This means that they may not be interested in hearing you talk endlessly about your problematic client or aren't willing to understand the nuances of a document that went through 45 iterations before the client finally accepted it.
For these reasons, you need to have a network of other freelancers who know what you're talking about, even if just to laugh, share funny stories and uplift one another. There are plenty of great communities online that allow you to connect with other freelancers and build a relationship either as a group or as smaller networks.
Schedule regular time outside of the office
It's extremely important to spend time away from your physical office, even if it's challenging to do so. It could just be a quick walk around the neighborhood or lunch with a friend, but it's important to have regular time blocked out in your schedule to step away from your business.
Freelancers often end up getting tunnel vision and spend all of their waking time thinking about work. This is not healthy for you or good for your business.
Develop hobbies away from work
As mentioned above, it's far too easy to find yourself working all of the time. One of the easiest ways to avoid this is to pick up a new hobby or learning activity that has nothing to do with your business. Bonus points if it doesn't require you to be at your computer and instead allows you to do something physical or use your hands. These can be extremely beneficial as you are learning something new and expanding your skillset outside of business. It's also a good opportunity to allow your brain to decompress and think about something else.
Physical exercise is great for the mind, body and soul. It also helps you avoid isolation if you think about ways that you can interact with people. Even during this time of social distancing, I have been able to interact with others using an app called StepBet, where we are all competing for a pool of money to stick to our daily step goals.
It's nice to interact with others who have their health as a goal and the app helps kick me into gear when I realize that I haven't gotten enough steps for the day.
Build up your schedule
No matter how you choose to combat isolation, build it into your calendar regularly. It’s so easy to get heads-down into your work and forget about the isolation. I like to spend Sunday evenings looking at my calendar and looking for opportunities to add in engagement and community. Whether it be a virtual coffee with someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, or scheduling a “happy hour” style event as a group playing a game together, it’s fun to keep things fresh and interesting to break up the isolation of the freelance workday.