Self-employment is the ultimate step in independence – you get to work where you want, when you want and you structure your own day. The flip side of that however is that without a team of colleagues, working on your own can feel a bit isolating.
As productive as you can be working solo, sometimes it’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts and begin to go a little stir crazy with no company. To keep cabin fever at bay, we’ve come up with our top 7 tips for combatting loneliness.
1. Find an Online Community
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are absolutely bursting to the seams with small businesses and entrepreneurs. Yes, a lot of businesses have skipped the ‘social’ element of these platforms and simply use them as an advertising space, but plenty of others have a founder behind the keyboard who is in the same boat as you.
Some of my favourite free groups on Facebook are the Soulful PR Facebook Community & the Business Owners Conversation Club.
On Instagram I've found an amazing community of business owners at all stages from launch ideas to running successful enterprises. Watching their Instagram stories is a great way to get an insight into their daily lives.
Twitter is admittedly something I peak and trough with, but I’ve found the weekly #BristolBizHour on a Thursday night is a great way to connect with other businesses in the cities. Most places have them, just search online.
2. Find a Coworking Space
This year I joined the Entrepreneurial Spark business accelerator programme. As part of this, we have access to the co-working hub in the centre of Bristol, offering hot desks, wi-fi and printing. Not only is it great to have access to facilities like these, but you’ll be surrounded by inspiring entrepreneurs.
Co-working spaces are popping up all over the country now in all shapes and sizes. Prices vary according to space and location, but you usually have the option of booking month by month, either for occasional hot desk access or for a full time desk.
3. Make More of an Effort Outside of Your Business
When you get up in the morning, immediately start work, carry on all day and find yourself dipping into your emails after dark, the days can begin to blur into one. It’s vital that you define clear ‘work’ and ‘play’ time and make the effort to maximise your social life outside of office hours.
When we don’t socialise in an office with colleagues anymore, we could easily find ourselves going for days without speaking to anyone other than our partner. Use your down time to see friends, head to the gym or just grab a coffee out of the house.
4. Get Yourself a Furry Friend
One of the huge bonuses of leaving my corporate job at Christmas was that we could finally get a dog! We’d wanted one for so long but both worked such long hours out of the house that we never thought it would be fair.
Whilst they can definitely eat into some of your productivity (particularly during the house training phase!) it’s been so therapeutic to have ‘someone’ else in the house with me during long days. It also makes me feel a little less crazy talking to myself…
5. Take Your Meetings Outside
If you’re in the kind of business where you might be interacting with clients, suppliers or anyone else, take any excuse to get out of your home office for meetings and sessions. Face to face is a far more personal way of doing business and is a great way to break up your day.
Even if it’s not practical to leave completely, try taking a call by Skype. Allowing those you’re doing business with to see your face always makes you come across as far more trust worthy and relatable.
6. Leave the House First Thing in the Morning
Another huge bonus of leaving my job was being able to drop the 45minute commute at rush hour. Although regaining that time in my day has been a godsend, having that morning routine did help me to mentally structure my day.
Instead of just sitting in traffic, use the time to get yourself moving before your working day begins. Take the dog for a walk (see point 4!), do a morning workout or just go for a stroll yourself – it doesn’t have to be inefficient time, pop your headphones in and use the opportunity to catch up on a podcast.
There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of the day and realising you’ve walked no further than the kitchen and bathroom – by getting out of the house first thing you can be smug that you’ve done your body a favour already whilst getting your mind into the right headspace for a day at the computer.
7. Head to Events
Business and networking events and conferences come in all shapes and sizes; from morning coffee meet ups to full mini-breaks away. However much you think you can’t spare the time away from your desk, these events are worth the time ten-fold.
Not only will it get you out of the house, you’ll get to meet new people and build up relationships with others in your field. Hearing the stories and experiences of those who are building a business from their passion can ensure that you don’t feel quite so alone in those challenges you’re facing every day.
The Selfish Start Up Co. events include plenty of elements of wellbeing too so you’ll be wringing out those tired bodies that have been working all hours under the sun and allowing your mind to switch off for a while.
The events rarely stop there either, you’ll often make great connections who you can follow up with and see again in the future, allowing you to continue to build an amazing network of business relationships.