For all the aspects of freelancing that people romanticize, there’s one that they always leave out: the crushing existential loneliness of working by oneself.
If you’re tired of staring into the abyss (alone) every night as you wait for the 30 coffee cups’ worth of caffeine to exit your system, we’ve got your covered—here are a few ways to alleviate your loneliness (and couple of those voices in your head) throughout the day.
1. Stay in contact throughout the day.
Simple, yet powerful. Plenty of freelancers I know put a block on their own Facebook and Twitter pages and turn off their phones for hours at a time. Not only does doing this shut out potential clients throughout the day, it also cuts you off from the one medium of conversation you can (kind of) passively pursue: instant messaging.
Keeping up an IM or text (hell, even Snapchat) conversation with friends and family throughout the day is an easy, perfectly acceptable way to ensure that your cats and your keyboard aren’t the only recipients of your one-liners.
The downside here is that you run the risk of killing your own productivity in favor of socializing. While this method may take some finessing, you’ll feel loads better after a day of semi-constant low-level communication than you do after none at all.
If this is absolutely out of the question for you, try listening to a podcast. Throw yourself a bone, here.
2. Arrange meetings over Skype instead of emailing.
The convenience of email is pretty damn unbeatable, but staring at black words on a white background isn’t the most comforting of gestures.
Instead of communicating with your clients through a written medium, set up a video call—or, at the very least, a voice call.
In addition to helping you combat your building cabin fever, Skyping or calling your clients will help strengthen your relationship with them as well as make you stand out from the hundreds of emails they send and receive every day. It’s a twofer!
3. Phone a friend.
What do the two previous tips look like when you combine them? Virtual co-working. This is a tough maneuver to pull off if you’re the only freelancer you know, but if you can finagle a work session with a friend or colleague even one or two times a week, it’ll pay dividends.
Co-working is a bit of a tired concept when it comes to staving off invariable pangs of loneliness, but in this case, it may actually be the solution to your problem.
4. Take a mid-day break to run errands.
Taking an hour in the middle of your work day to go be around other people is remarkably refreshing, even if it’s just a trip to the local Fred Meyer (or, y’know, McDonalds).
You’ll also end up feeling better about the back half of your work day if you give yourself some time to decompress in the middle of it.
If this isn’t possible for you (I work a standard 9-5 rotation remotely), get up earlier than you need to and make your rounds or grab a cup of coffee then. Especially if you’re an introvert, you’ll get your fill of interaction by the time you clock in.
5. Learn to inherently loathe other people and adopt a hamster.
Shhhhh. Embrace the darkness.
JK, ignore number five… even if it’s tempting…