It can be depressing to be a work-at-home freelancer sometimes, especially on those days when you feel marooned on your own little island. If you ask me, such is my craving for the human connection that I still queue up at the bank to withdraw or deposit money, go to the library instead of reading books online, and walk down to the nearest takeaway restaurant instead of ordering in. On more occasions than one, I’ve wondered how the person sounds while reading an email.
If you’ve been nodding in agreement, I understand.
Being a freelancer affords you a dream lifestyle: waking up at your own hour, working at your own schedule, travelling whenever and wherever you want without having to ask your boss for leave. You don’t even have to rush to office every morning, considering that you’ve made your home your office.
But it can also get terribly lonely when you’re working at home all day with too little human interaction. Sometimes, even when you think you’re comfortable where you are, you have to force yourself to go outside, because real interaction with people frees your mind, helps you with ideas, and above all, makes you realise you aren’t the only person on the planet.
Here are six ways work-at-home professionals can feel less lonely…
Get out of the house
For some real, organic human connection, you have to first leave the house (unless you’re willing to chat up the pizza guy). Take a walk, visit your favourite coffee shop, or drop into a book store. You don’t have to find anybody to talk to. Watching people and observing human behaviour is fascinating. If you bump into someone you know and start a conversation, that’s a bonus. When you come back home after spending some time outside, you’ll not only feel better but you’ll also find concentrating on work much easier.
Work from elsewhere
If you’re someone who doesn’t always need a quiet space like the bedroom to be able to get work done, then you could consider a change in scenery sometimes. At least once a week, try and work from somewhere outside the house. It could be a coffee shop, a library, the unused table getup in a shopping centre, or even the sea side if you happen to live close to a beach. The change in surroundings lifts your mood and drives out loneliness. Having a work space outside home not only gives you an energy boost, but also lets you dress up, which contributes hugely to the feel-good factor.
Most work-at-home professionals are procrastinators who leave their chair and go out only when their stomach complains. If you’re one of them, then the best way to force yourself to take a break from work is to block a few days on your calendar every week for social activities and events. You could spend the weekend volunteering at a local shelter, or attend the new play in town, or catch the latest movie release. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you cannot have weekends like everyone else. If work has a schedule, then fun also demands to have a schedule of its own. It’s good for your health and sanity.
Connect with others like you
The World Wide Web is a great place to find other freelancers and work-at-home professionals. Most freelancers have experienced the same kind of loneliness and monotony as you do, and by connecting with them you will not only make some lovely friends but also get some ideas on how to work from home without letting loneliness creep in. In many cities there are Meetup groups for freelancers which is another brilliant way to connect with professionals like you and get together for some fun time.
It’s easy to get snowed under work and not leave the house for days. As a result, you miss out on seeing friends, relaxing, and having some fun. When friends call and ask you to meet for coffee, you’re most likely to put work first. When your home is your office, you have no fixed hours and squeeze in work whenever you can. That way, you only end up working all the time. The next time your friends ask you to meet, drop all work and say yes. Then go out, have a great time, and feel like a normal person again.
When you’re not working, resist that urge to check your email and turn off your devices. Put away your phone and laptop, and spend time doing things that recharge and rejuvenate you. Bake a cake for your kids, go out for dinner with your partner, play a round of golf with your friends. Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot switch off a couple of days a week. If you’re a homebody like me, use your free days to finish that half-read book or to clean the house. Detaching yourself from back-lit devices doesn’t just benefit your mind and memory, but also lets you focus on things that you otherwise might not have time for,
Working from home is great but it can also get lonely sometimes. Use the above tips to stay sane and enjoy life as a freelancer.
Over to you…
What steps have you taken to overcome loneliness and monotony as a work-at-home professional? Share them in the comments below!