Freelance life isn’t always easy. It may seem like working at home is a dream full of pajama pants, Netflix and frequent visits to the fridge, but those of us who’ve been working from home for a while know that, for all the perks, there are plenty of big challenges.
Sure, 66 percent of workers surveyed by FlexJobs believe that working from home is more productive. But when you work alone in the same place where you live, eat and sleep, the isolation can really get to you. Then, when you finally win that client you were working on or complete a big project, there’s nobody around to celebrate your success with you. Working at home can make it easy to forget the importance of taking time to mark significant wins and milestones in your freelance career, which is a fundamental part of positive mental health and long-term success for freelancers. Here are some tips for how to stave off the isolation when you work from home.
1. Treat Yourself
As you work toward an important deadline or turning point in your career, decide how you’re going to treat yourself when you reach it. Perhaps you’ll plan to take a couple hours off to go buy your favorite gelato and eat it in the park, or maybe you’ll book a spa treatment to unwind from all the stress. Whatever it is, make sure you have a plan for how to treat yourself — and follow through with it. Setting up rewards like this will help keep you motivated.
2. Share Your Successes Via Social Media
Share your business wins with your social networks. Online communities can be a very important source of support for those who work from home, especially since you’re not regularly interacting with employees in a shared office space. Not only can you share your wins with your personal networks, but you can tap into like-minded communities of entrepreneurs, freelancers and fellow work-from-homers who share your lifestyle. Sharing your successes online through platforms like LinkedIn is also a good way to showcase your talent to potential new clients.
3. Join a Coworking Space
Sometimes there’s just no substitute for face-to-face interactions. Joining a coworking group or finding a shared space to get some work done is a great way to get a refreshing change of scenery from your home office, meet similar people and share your successes. Many coworking spaces now have flexible options that let you come and go as you please, and facilities range from shared table space to full corporate board rooms.
4. Have Friends Over for a Toast
I find that having friends over to toast a recent success achieves two things: It forces me to clean the inevitable mess I’ve made scrambling to meet a deadline or pouring everything I have into the final stages of a project, and it gives me that much-needed social contact to restore my motivation. And someone almost always leaves a bottle of wine behind — that’s an added bonus.
5. Spend a Few Hours at a Coffee Shop
One of the hardest parts of working at home is spending long hours alone in your house. Break up your day by heading out to a local coffee shop for a bit. Whether you bring your work with you or just sit and take a break with a hot drink and snack, adding this activity to your weekly schedule can help you clear your head and be more productive.
6. Chat Regularly With a Mentor
Having a mentor can help you envision your own path to success as a remote worker. Choose someone who you can meet with either in person or online (via Skype or Google Hangouts) on a weekly basis. Ideally, your mentor should be someone who has taken a similar path through life and can help talk you through some of the biggest challenges you’ll face. Not only will you get some great work advice, but these meetings will break you out of your isolation for an hour or so.
7. Find Local Freelancer Meetups
Do some research to find local freelancer meetups in your area. Attending these events will get you out of the house, and you’ll find yourself networking with like-minded people in your industry who face the same challenges you do as a remote worker. If you can’t find a meetup that fits your niche, why not start your own?
8. Go Out in the Evenings
Your home may be the best place to focus and get your work done, but make sure you’re not spending days on end inside. Make plans with friends that get you out of the house in the evenings. That way, you won’t start to feel the slump of “hibernation” (as I like to call it). Don’t let your entire existence — from working to eating and sleeping — happen at home. Even if it’s a casual walk by yourself, take your evening plans outside.
9. Plan a Weekend Getaway
One of the best ways to celebrate a big win is to plan a mini weekend escape. Book yourself a night at a hotel, check out Airbnb listings in your area or drive up to the cottage for a few days. When you spend all your time living and working in the same place, it’s important to get out and get a new perspective once in a while. Soak up some fresh air, sun, rest and relaxation before embarking on your next project. You’ll come back refreshed and energized.
The most important thing to do when you work alone from home is to make sure you’re not overlooking your milestones. Take the time to properly celebrate your career achievements and reward yourself for all your hard work. Doing so will help you recharge your batteries so you can sustain your independent working lifestyle.