The Freelance Life: From a Busy Office to Working Alone
August 4, 2017
It's not something people talk about a lot, but freelancing can be lonely sometimes. Especially if you're just out of school and you're used to being around other students all the time...or you've been working for an agency or organization where you're around other people all day long. To go from that to suddenly sitting alone at your desk in your home office for 9 hours a day...it's an adjustment to be sure.
The truth is, humans are built for community. We are meant to be around others, to help each other, to learn from one another, to work together to create amazing things.
But as I've said a few times before (see here and here), freelance is the way of the future. It's here to stay, and I personally love it. I would NOT want to go back to a typical 9-5; for me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. But we do need to find ways to build community while also enjoying the personal freedom that freelancing offers.
I'm still experimenting with new ideas, and honestly probably always will. That's just my nature. Always trying something new! But here's what I've tried so far and how it's worked for me:
Schedule lunches and coffee dates. This was the first thing I tried, and I still do it of course. I love to stay in touch with my friends from past jobs and to meet new people.
Get a dog. Seriously. My Luna-Bear has made SO MUCH difference in my life. I'm not sure exactly why, but she helps fill the void of company while you're working. And she's an amazing companion. She always agrees that my design/photography is the shit, and she listens intently when I bitch about tight timelines. Plus, she reminds me to take a break every once in a while and get outside to enjoy some fresh air and exercise (I get sucked into the screen pretty easily)!
Set up meetings outside the office. I love to call in for meetings in my PJs (it's one of my favorite perks of being a freelancer)...but I do purposely try to schedule meetings away from home at least once or twice a week. It's good to get out into the world and to build real relationships with the people you work with, plus I'm a creative and I get bored being in the same place all the time.
Book photoshoots. This is a great way to spend a few hours with real live humans, meet new people and check out new places around the city. Interspersing a few photoshoots into my week helps break up the monotony and re-fuel my creative juices.
Work from a restaurant or coffee shop. Sometimes, I'll just go work somewhere where other people are around. Lucky for me, I have TONS of great coffee shops and restaurants all around me to choose from...even some within walking distance!
Get an intern. This summer, MANMAN welcomed its very first intern, which was soooo helpful. Not only did I have someone to bounce ideas off of (I love Luna, but she isn't the best at constructive critique), it was great having someone there to help me out in a pinch! You can read about our intern's experience from her point of view here. And since she is headed back to school soon, we'll be looking for someone else to fill her shoes (hmu at email@example.com if you're interested)!
If you're a freelancer, what do you do to get some human interaction into your day? Or do you find you don't really need it? Let me know!