How to stay connected as a lonely freelancer

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Having worked in busy offices, I understand the social benefits of being in close proximity to colleagues. Whether you are discussing the latest episode of Game of Thrones at the coffee machine, bouncing ideas regarding a client or celebrating a birthday, these can be welcome distractions in your working day. There are even colleagues who cross the boundaries of work and become life-long friends beyond the confines of the office.

As a freelancer, there are many perks but it can become a lonely existence with only your laptop for company – and maybe a pet, or plant in my case! There are days when the pyjamas don’t come off and the world outside is only viewed from a closed window. I am making it sound like a prison, which of course it isn’t, but it means freelancers need to make more of an effort to ensure we are not going mad and talking to ourselves all day!

So, here are some tips to make you feel connected and part of the working world on a daily basis.

  1. Schedule meetings first thing in the day – this forces you to interact early on and creates focus, which will hopefully set you up for the rest of the day.

  2. Spread meetings out throughout the week, if possible and practical. Again, this gives you regular opportunities to escape your home office and meet others.

  3. Make calls in the morning – this gets you talking and making connections early on.

  4. Schedule a walk or workout – it can be for only 20 mins but it breaks up the day and will improve your focus, as well as your health. It also gives you opportunities to interact and connect with the outside world.

  5. Don’t spend all day in your pyjamas – ok we all do it occasionally but if you are showered and dressed first thing, you are more likely to leave the confines of home as you are ready for anything.

  6. Make time for social media – not just your work accounts but give yourself say 10 minutes every few hours. Grab a coffee and pretend you are in the office kitchen with a colleague. Comment, tag, like friends so you feel you are connecting. Set a time limit though so you don’t get consumed in the internet vortex!

  7. Don’t always work inside – if it is a nice day, take the opportunity to find a good spot outdoors. If all you need is your laptop and phone, then you are good to go. Alternatively, head to a coffee shop for a change of view and also to be surrounded by people and noise that will make you feel part of something bigger. But if it is too noisy, just change seats or location completely - because you can!

  8. Stop and take lunch – even if it is only 5 minutes to stuff down a sandwich. Focus on your food and take the time to plan your afternoon and reflect on the morning. If you can go out for lunch or even meet someone then do it. Or take the opportunity to call a friend or your mum for a quick hello. It is easy to ignore lunch but is an opportune time to have a mental break.

  9. Meet up or call someone else you know who works from home or is a freelancer too If they are nearby then arrange a coffee, discuss your day and client issues etc. Remember you are not the only freelancer in the world!

  10. Network – get to as many networking meetings as feasible. Nowadays, there are ones happening throughout the day. Not only are they good for your social and networking skills, but if it means a few new clients then even better!

None of the suggestions above are rocket science but it is amazing how easy it is to forget simple rules. Put them in place and stay as connected as you can to the outside world and it will boost your productivity and creativity!

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