My words are seen by thousands of readers each day. And even though I have an outlet to share ideas and converse with the world, I still feel alone occasionally. For those of you who also work behind a computer screen, without co-workers nearby, loneliness as a freelancer can be a real struggle.
In fact, according to an article published by Fortune, a lack of connection to a company’s culture, concerns about cash flow and feelings of isolation top current and potential freelancer concerns.
Of course, there are various benefits of social interaction for freelancers, and so I try to get away from my desk and out of the house each day. But hours upon hours of listening to my clicky-clacky keyboard can still be isolating, especially when I’m on deadline and have to park myself at my desk for long stretches of time.
I usually have Pandora or Amazon Music to keep me company, but I also take regular breaks within my home office to revive my creativity and give my eyes a much-needed writing screen diversion. Here are my top five 15-minute break ideas for interjecting some socialization and relaxation into your workday.
1. Network With Other Freelancers
Find others who work in the same (or similar industry) and meet up online. I’m involved in a few Slack communities and Facebook groups where I can see what others are up to, refine ideas and get some great tips. A colleague introduced me to Online Geniuses, an internet marketing community, and I’m excited to check into #Launch, a community for entrepreneurs to get feedback and find people to collaborate with on projects.
Social media is my virtual water cooler. Various platforms, like LinkedIn and Twitter, have allowed me to stay connected to contacts, land new gigs and build up relationships with potential colleagues. They really are virtual game changers for freelancers working from home offices.
2. Play a Game
Yes, I’m telling you to goof off during your workday. Scientific American reminds us that sometimes we need a mental break, especially after tackling a highly focused task. So, play a board game with a friend at the co-working space you frequent. Or, join their lunch-break video game club. Just because you’re not working for the same company doesn’t mean you have to skip out on the social parts of a typical workday.
3. Chat With Friends
I have a few colleagues who are unofficially my accountability partners. We talk about project deadlines, clients we love and where to find the next writing gigs. We keep each other accountable for pressing on and growing our businesses. And when we share our goals with one another, we get to celebrate milestones together, like landing new projects or getting a complex article published. Connecting with someone who does what you do is both professionally reassuring and energizing.
4. Make a Call
Next time you take a quick coffee break, give a friend or family member a call. Keep the chat short, but be sure to give yourself a mental respite and dose of reality beyond your desk. There’s a world of local and global events out there to discuss — so save the work chat for later. Keep the talk positive to boost your mood for the rest of your workday.
5. Change Your Approach
Lately, I’ve been tackling more writing projects that mirror my previous work at a local newspaper — encouraging me to chat with sources on the phone. Even though it’s still part of my workday, the idle chatter before digging into an interview is refreshing. Consider swapping out your usual follow-up emails with phone calls. It’s a great option for anyone in sales who wants to see how a customer is faring with their products — and, as a bonus, it personalizes your business.
You don’t have to succumb to loneliness as a freelancer. Lighten up! One of the perks of being your own boss is creating your own schedule, which includes taking as many breaks as you need to feel happy, healthy and productive.