Freelancing isn’t an easy path.
Often, starting your freelance career requires long hours, and once business takes off it’s tempting to take on as much work as you can handle or more. The time commitment can lead to not having much time to socialize or feelings of isolation. Here we’ll explore ways to avoid that, or deal with it if you’re already there.
Freelancing isn’t an easy path.
Finding the Time
If you’re just starting out freelancing, it’s tempting to pour every moment of your time into your career at the expense of your social life.
While it’s important to stay motivated and devote ample time to finding work and building your portfolio, it’s equally important to remember that this should only be a season of your professional life.
If you have been grinding for months (or even years) without taking a break, you’re at risk of burnout and putting yourself in very real danger of hating the pursuit that seemed so appealing in the beginning due to isolation.
The biggest piece of advice you need is to remember yourself as an individual and not just a professional. It may seem like wasted time when you want to spend every moment on driving profits forward, but taking time to socialize is a huge part of being a well-rounded individual.
If you’ve been pushing nonstop for a long time and still don’t have time to socialize, something needs to change. Maybe your processes could become more efficient, or maybe you’re looking in the wrong places for clients. It may be worth your time to find resources on how best to approach potential clients or pitch your work.
Whatever the case may be, you should eventually reach a point where you aren’t having to put in hours upon hours finding new work. Taking time to improve your technique and approach is a valuable part of the beginning phase to freelancing, and shouldn’t be neglected.
Make a Change
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, your problem may be the opposite with the same result. If you find yourself with endless work and don’t take any time off from it, a change is in order.
More time obviously means more money, but at what cost? If you’re raking in the big bucks but don’t have any time to enjoy the people you value, you need to make room in your life for socialization. Burnout is inevitable when you push full steam ahead without cultivating meaningful relationships.
Try raising your threshold for how much a job needs to pay to be worth your time, or decreasing your commitments by 5-10 percent. Even freeing up two or three hours a week to spend with other people can make a remarkable difference in your outlook and satisfaction with life and your career.
If you’re grinding constantly to make ends meet because the work you get doesn’t pay enough to work fewer hours, set a goal to send out a certain number of queries every week for higher-paying gigs.
Even if you feel like the opportunities you’re reaching for are out of your league, persistence pays off and eventually you will land a higher-paying client. As this occurs, start phasing out your lower-paying clients or notify them that your rates have changed. Gradually, your work will pay better for your time and you will be able to spend more time interacting non-professionally with other people.
Getting Out There
Okay, so you’ve found the time to socialize, but what activities can you engage in without investing more time than you have? Below are a few ideas to get you started.
Join Freelance Communities to Interact with Others in Your Field
This is a great way to fulfill your need for human contact with one caveat. Within a community of freelancers, it’s tempting to network instead of socializing. While networking is an important part of freelancing, don’t fall into the trap of only making professional connections instead of friendly acquaintances.
If your group is local, try to meet in locations conducive to socialization and not work.
Go Grab a Bite to Eat
This sounds silly, but when you’re crunched for time, heading out of the house or office for a few minutes is better than eating at your desk!
If the venue isn’t busy, it’s usually pretty easy to strike up a conversation with a bored server. Even if you only have half an hour, a little person-to-person contact while you’re eating a meal can be a nice change.
Work From a Coffee Shop or Library
This won’t work all the time, but if you have a slower-than-average day of work, it might be worth your time to find a venue with free wireless internet and work from there for a while.
Often, others doing the same thing will be happy to interact with someone in between periods of focus.
Resume an Old Hobby or Strike Up a New One
Many hobby-focused groups exist on social networking sites and on sites like Meetup. It may be worth your time to get involved with something that interests you and make friends in that setting. Cooking enthusiasts, hikers, crafters, poets, and more have thriving communities welcoming to new members.
The amount of time spent alone can be disheartening to new and seasoned freelancers alike, but with some effort a balance can be struck that preserves your happiness as an individual without taking away from your career.
Now tell me – what sort of things do you do to avoid isolation and burnout?