How can you beat the loneliness of working alone?
Self Care

How can you beat the loneliness of working alone?

James Laurence Wood

Remember: it’s not only you

Everyone talks about the freedom of working for yourself, but you will feel the need for human contact at some point, whether that’s just for company or to help you talk through business problems you’re trying to solve. We’re social creatures, we humans. Even introverts (of which I am proudly a member) need that social contact from time to time. So make sure you don’t jump to the conclusion that working for yourself isn’t right for you just because you want some company in your professional time.

Build human connection into your working days

It’s so easy to connect with people these days that we often forget to actually do it. We get so focussed on the task at hand that we can forget how draining it is to keep ploughing ahead alone.

Try not to mistake browsing social media for human contact — that tends to make us feel inferior or infuriated.

The Wayfinder is built around this idea. Members have access to our private Facebook groups where they can post about what they’re up to, ask for advice, share frustrations, find people near them in the real world and message people who can help them.

Outside the community, we have WhatsApp, Skype and a whole boatload of other messaging apps that help keep us in touch. I try to make sure I reach out to a friend, past colleague or like-minded creative each day (usually around lunchtime). Sometimes the conversations are short and sweet, sometimes they lead to lengthy and interesting discussions. But those moments of contact are always of value.

Try not to mistake browsing social media for human contact — that tends to make us feel inferior or infuriated.

Build human connection in the real world

Sometimes it’s okay to de-digitise yourself and go out and about in the actual physical world (gasp). Find networking groups that serve self employed folk and get together for a coffee and a chat. You don’t have to do it every week (that’s why I recommend the less formal networking groups) but knowing they’re there when you’ve had a tough week and need some humanising is a great relief. Finding other people who work the same way you do can really lift your spirits and keep your motivation up.

Keep your days varied

It can be all too easy to spend an entire day on a single task. If I'm working on a big writing project, I find that those entire days quickly become entire weeks. And doing the same activity continuously really isn’t good for you. Not only is it bad for you physically (especially sitting at a desk), but it also wears down your energy levels. I try to book in a walk and a change of venue each day, whether that’s meeting up for some co-working with other independents or going to do some writing in a café somewhere along the coast, these changes keep my mind from stagnating. At the end of the day, we’re creatives, and stagnant minds produce crappy creative. So try to get out and about and change up the type of work you’re doing a couple of times a day.