The Not-So-Lonely World of Freelancing

One of the reasons I deferred working for myself is because I want to work with other people. Not just have people in the room and chat with them, but build together, solve problems, launch from one another’s ideas. This is what makes me better at my job!

I assumed if I were self-employed, I would lose the thrill of collaborating with others. I was so wrong. My job revolves around coming together with others, sharing ideas, knowledge, and skills to make something better.

The writer puts forth an idea, then the editor launches from there and takes the idea further, spotlighting strengths and beauty, bringing the weaknesses to light, and suggesting new directions in which to take the writing. The writer then takes this new perspective and brings the project to completion. We may not be sitting around a conference table guzzling stale coffee, but that right there is what I call collaboration!

Just as iron sharpens iron, so two people work together with their strength to create something powerful, refining one another in the process.

Are afraid of loneliness during freelancing? Or maybe are you motivated to freelance, but only because you assume you can work by yourself?

Collaboration is definitely a benefit, but being social can have its drawbacks for both extroverts and introverts

An extroverted freelancer may tell himself he concentrates better in a busy coffeeshop, but being around people for reasons that aren’t directly related to his business can be costly distractions and compromise his focus. Extroverts can better manage their work social-time by setting the following boundaries: 

  • Make meetings short. Schedule an appointment soon afterward. Ideally, you would schedule time to reflect on the meeting, make an action plan and begin or continue work. Not only does this help manage your social time, but it also acts as a buffer as you come down off the social high and before setting to other tasks.  (Note this is the exact verbiage of the first suggestion for introverts.)
  • Come prepared to the coffee shop workplace or to meetings with specific task items. If you aren’t accomplishing the tasks on your list, you need to reconsider the purpose for your work social-time before reducing the list or extending the time.
  • Close yourself off to people when working by wearing earbuds (even if they aren’t on), filling your table with work and occupying chairs at your table with your bag. And try not to look around. Looking up from your work invites friendly chats. 
  • If you are distracted by social media, even media related to your work but not pertinent, remove apps, tabs, bookmarks and notifications. Schedule time for such activity–it will make you more productive in social media work and otherwise.  
  • Most importantly, don’t let work social-time fill your social needs. Your cients, coworkers, network are not your friends and they do not fill your soul. Make time for your loved ones. And if a work person also happens to be a close friend, remove yourself from work before spending time with them. Your brain notices the difference. 

If you are introverted, working with people can be exhausting. Collaboration is a huge benefit, but the introverted freelancer must schedule social time wisely by setting the following boundaries:

  • Make meetings short. Schedule an appointment soon afterward. Ideally, you would schedule time to reflect on the meeting, make an action plan and begin or continue work. Not only does this help manage your social time, but it also acts as a buffer as you come down off the social high and before setting to other tasks.  (Note this is the exact verbiage of the first suggestion for extroverts.)
  • Come prepared to meetings with specific task items. If you aren’t accomplishing the tasks on your list, you need to reconsider the purpose for your work social-time before reducing the list or extending the time.
  • Find out how you recharge after interacting with people. Some need a book to read, some are most refreshed after a quiet walk in the woods or at a park, some play video games. Even sitting in your car, listening to music can be the solitude you need to be effective in your work. 
  • You know how to recharge, now make sure you schedule time to recharge as soon after the meeting as possible. Literally, when you make an appointment, schedule 20-30 minutes afterward for regeneration. 
  • Most importantly, don’t take your energy away from those who matter to you. If you spend all weekend recuperating from the social time you had during the week, it can spoil the advantages of freelancing for both you and your loved ones. 

In short, people need people to be successful. But social work-time, whether you are n a extrovert or an introvert, can be a hinderance to productivity, success and happiness as a freelancer. Be intentional about social work-time. 

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