As freelancers, we might be reaping the benefits of a better work-life balance, greater flexibility and control, and we get to avoid the stressful feeling that often comes with being in an office environment; however, sometimes, we can also miss the small talk around the water cooler. The buzz of the office when you’re looking for a distraction, and at times, using others as soundboards to keep our motivation high and our nerves intact when deadlines are looming.
If you don’t regularly connect, communicate, and interact with others, the impact of isolation can very quickly wear your mood down and increase anxiety and depression.
That’s why networking and community are critical for our mental health, wellbeing, and productivity.
So, how can we avoid freelancer isolation altogether?
Find online communities – and not just any online community; you need to find like-minded people. Those who know what it is to be a freelancer. People you can relate to, share funny client stories with (as well as dramas), and bounce ideas off. People who help lift the mood.
Network, network, and then network some more – whether face-to-face through events or online through Facebook communities, Instagram, Twitter, get networking! Yes, this can be nerve-wracking and push you outside of your comfort zone; however, networking is a great way to build connections and get new business. Networking can also get you out of the house and force you (to some degree) to have different conversations. Setting yourself a goal to attend so many networking events per month or even per year is a great place to start.
Take up a hobby – it’s not healthy to work all of the time, and as freelancers, we can often fall into the trap where work becomes everything. Taking up a hobby or taking some time out to learn something new, something different from your everyday business activities, can be essential in boosting your mood and productivity!
Exercise – ok, not everyone’s cup of tea; however, any form of exercise, something you enjoy, is great for the mind, body, and we’re going to say it…soul! Helping to keep us sane, exercise can also help keep those creative juices flowing.
Keep your calendar updated – build everything, and we mean everything into your calendar. Blocking out time for work and daily tasks, as well as time for engagement and networking. The focus is on creating structure; as for all as freelancers, we have a lot of flexibility in our workday; we also still need the structure and a professional routine to keep us focused and motivated.
Consider co-working space – taking the opportunity to share co-working space doesn’t have to be permanent or every day. Sharing space with other freelancers can break your week up, open up further opportunities, and fill the loneliness void. (Ideally, we’d recommend finding a co-working group that suits your needs and sits within your industry to support motivation and productivity).
Be honest – you’ll be surprised how many people feel the same way. It’s funny, but not many people admit they’re lonely freelancers, unsure if they’ve made the right decision, or even jealous of the 9-5. We put on a front; we have it all, the flexibility, the freedom to work when and where we want, and more. However, freelancer isolation is a big deal, and the more we talk about it, the more we realise we all feel it from time to time. These conversations are extremely helpful as they often lead to a lot of individual stories, a range of advice, information, and signposts on how to combat isolation head-on.
Find a mentor – someone who can provide you with perspective when you need it most. Who can be your sounding board and keep you on track in meeting your goals? The right mentor can mean the world, keeping motivation high and often becoming life-long friends.
Value of avoiding freelancer isolation
The contribution freelancers make to the economy is outstanding, and it’s only getting bigger.
This is why we need to protect our ever-growing community and tackle the issue of isolation head-on.
Some of our Freelance Hero members have also commented and spoken openly about this issue in the past:
“The fantastic thing about the freelance community is its ability to signpost you to that person or advice that will help you take your next step with your business. If you ask a question with clarity, with specifics, without assumptions, and with gratitude, there is always someone there to help.”
“Getting help and advice from other freelancers is a huge resource not only when you start a business, but as you continue to grow.”
“Community is vital to freelancers when it comes to avoiding isolation and simply having fun!”
“For a community to work, it must be inclusive. It has to bring everyone together and benefit all involved. Having the support of others and supporting others is a great feeling.”
Freelance Heroes online community
Freelancer isolation is one of the biggest challenges that we at Freelance Heroes aim to solve.
This is why we strive to provide access to a community of like-minded individuals to help us maximise the benefits of freelancing and remind ourselves why we chose the career path we did.
Our online community allows you to feel part of a team with regular podcasts, blogs (like this one), and numerous ways to share ideas and gather information and advice from others.
To find out more, click here.
Be part of the strong, supportive, and interconnected freelance landscape today.