OK, so you’ve gotten your career off the ground. You’ve consulted with a lawyer who has helped get your legal ducks in a row. Your list of clients is good and growing. Your finances are in order. All is well with your new life.
You’re lonely. Like, really lonely. You’re happy to be working on your own terms, but you didn’t foresee just how much you would miss human interaction. After all, you did have a couple of cool co-workers that were fun to vent to and grab lunch with. Now, even ordering coffee is enough to thrill you. What’s a lonely freelancer to do?
When you’re first embarking on the freelance journey, you’re worrying about the big stuff: finances, clients, workflow, contracts, portfolio. But once the dust settles and you’re in a good professional spot, you’ll notice something missing — and that’s human beings. Look at it this way — if you didn’t start feeling a little lonely, we might accuse you of being a robot.
Still, realizing loneliness can be a consequence of a going freelance doesn’t really make it any easier.
You know you used it too often when you had a 9–5, so even your friends with real jobs will probably welcome the distraction. It’s good to decompress every once and a while, and even just chatting with a friend for 15 minutes can help.
Schedule casual lunches and in-person meetings whenever possible. Ask your fellow freelance friends to grab a long lunch every Friday — even better if you can make it a regular group meetup.
If you’re already short on space at home, co-working spaces are not only all the rage these days, but are a great way to meet fellow creative types. It’s an extra expense, but can really pay dividends in terms of: a.) socialization, b.) inspiration, and c.) productivity. Don’t know where to start? We also have a few ideas. Travel a lot? Our friends at Copass give you access to coworking spaces all around the world.
Coworking not your thing? Cafe’s! The ole’ standby. Coffee shops offer the holy trifecta that every freelancer needs: caffeine, creative types, and breakfast sandwiches. The hum of caffeinated people, along with free wi-fi, is a great way to get your juices flowing while still feeling close to other humans.
However, while we at Domino frequent our fair share of coffee shops to get work done, it’s very important to not be “that guy.” You know, the person who cruises in first thing in the morning, only orders one small cup of coffee and hogs a table for the rest of the day.
So break things up a bit: Pick one coffee shop for your creative work, one for days when you just need to fire off emails and another when you need to focus on more ‘boring’ stuff, like billing and admin work. Having more than one ‘go-to’ coffee shop is also good for socialization — you’ll meet more people by not staying in one spot. But please people, remember to follow the ‘one drink for every 2–3 hours’ rule!
Libraries — they’re not just good for books, y’know! They’re also a reliable source of dust. If you don’t already, you should start thinking of libraries as “quiet lil’ inspiration hubs.” When you start to feel a little drained, just get head to your neighborhood library and walk around. You’re bound to find your next favorite book or magazine, which can help you with push through a creativity block or professional rut.
See what meetups for freelancers or people in your field exist near you. “Dribbble meetups and Creative Mornings are really good tools to meet talented people in the same situation as all freelancers,” said Julien Celin, a freelance video editor. Not to mention, meetups are a great way to not only meet new people while ALSO networking. Win/win!
Even if you have a really great handle on your social life, working by yourself can still drive you a little stir crazy every once in awhile. When that mid-afternoon slump hits, get moving! Go for a run, hit the gym, heck even just clean your space. You know exercise releases endorphins, so even just a 20 minute ‘moving around’ break can help clear your head. And a perk of hitting the gym in the middle of the afternoon — you can scope out other people with unconventional jobs. Why is that old man trying to shuffle snow in the middle of summer?
These are just a few suggestions to stay connected in your new working environment. The key here is to find stuff that makes you feel good. It may take a few weeks of trying out new spaces and habits before you settle a nice, non-lonely, groove. And don’t forget Domino’s Slack channel is always here for you.
This article was originally contributed by Mattie Quinn, who is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.