Tricks & tips to save your sanity
Many people think that starting and running your own business is the best of most worlds. It sounds like the best life: making money while working in your small office perhaps located in your basement or that small extra bedroom. You know you can take a break at any time, including a wine break any time you want because sometimes, it’s just that kind of a day.
While it’s not my thing, you could be doing all of this while wearing your pajamas because you get to work in comfort and flexibility. Yes, it’s about Living the Dream and as Martha Stewart would say, “that’s a good thing!”
Being an entrepreneur for a while now, I’ve been enjoying working on my own schedule from home for a few years. No more bosses, no 90-minute morning commute (and the same coming home), no more clocking in and out, just me, myself and I. If I don't get up and work, I'm not going to get paid. I can work from anywhere and whenever I want.
Solopreneurs get lonely
All this flexibility is so freeing but we also know that where there’s a good thing there are always drawbacks. This freedom also removes a lot of the normal comforts of a regular workday spent at the office: no casual Fridays, no office gossip, no water cooler around which to congregate, no casual after work drinks, nor the sense of solidarity with a range of colleagues.
There are other costs for this freedom and for a lot of solopreneurs, that cost involves having to get comfortable spending hours, and hours and okay, days by yourself.
All of this can be isolating and sometimes even depressing. Here are a few tips to help keep these negative feelings at bay so you can get past those “dark days” and get back some of that sense of community as you grow.
#1. Consider using a shared workspace
Co-working spaces are becoming extremely popular and you’ll find many like-minded entrepreneurs and freelancers. These rentable spaces offer a familiar work environment and include all those things you’ll need like printers, photocopiers and more. Check for availability in your area.
#2. Get regular exercise
With no commute to speak of, or often no reason to leave the house, you can be tempted to stay in your pajamas, or perhaps bring your laptop to bed. Daily exercise will help you feel better, have positive effects on your health and helps to keep you feeling like you got something done. Find something that takes you outdoors and away from your desk.
You probably have a favourite activity that you can devote a minimum 30-minutes a day. You’ll feel refreshed and focused when you get to back business. You won’t be sorry.
#3. Keep regular hours (including lunch breaks)
We’ve all been there. Does this sound familiar? You wake up early, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and get to work without looking back up for the next 8 hours or so - especially if you work alone at home, without other employees to point out the lunch hour.
Or, it’s just as easy to start in the early afternoon and work until past midnight. This is a productive schedule for some people, but it can be disastrous for others, and even more isolating for people working alone.
To set up a workday routine that works for you, wake up early and set a regular time to sit down at your desk and take a real lunch break when time allows. Find a local place nearby where you can access fresh lunch options, or make something fresh, hot and nutritious in your own kitchen. If you can, try to stop working by a reasonable hour, say around 6 pm.
You don’t want to feel like you’ve wasted a day on just work alone. Find a schedule that works for you.
#4. Take a class
Find a morning or lunch time class you can take doing something you enjoy or where you’ll learn something valuable. This gives you an opportunity to chat with your instructor and other attendees while helping to fill your “people contact quota” for the day. It’ll also help get your mind off work for an hour or so before getting back to what you need to get done.
#5. Schedule early meetings
If there’s anything that will get you out of bed and functioning in the morning, it’s having to attend video conferences or business calls early in the morning. By scheduling all your meetings, video conferences and business calls as early as you can you give yourself an interactive wake up call. You’ll get started with an energizing activity that will motivate you for the rest of the day.
Starting your day exchanging ideas, doing general housekeeping updates and connecting with new potential business prospects will kick start a productive day at work!
#6. Networking events
Admit it, some of us are not that fond of networking. Sorry, that’s just the way it goes (can I get a yeah from our introvert friends?) You can take the sting out of networking by taking the time to find at least three networking groups where you feel comfortable and connected, as well as building relationships that support both sides. Just do it!
You can also keep loneliness at bay by adding these three elements into your schedule:
Collaboration: Find partners where you can combine skills to grow your businesses, together or as a group. Working collaboratively will get you out of your comfort zone and push you forward.
Community: Building community will not only provide opportunities to share, it will bring personal satisfaction and personal growth.
Finally, there’s consistency. By taking care of this aspect of your day, the rest of the elements noted above will be taken care of.
Being a solopreneur can be a lonely experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are things you can do to alleviate that loneliness and hopefully at least a couple of these tips will be work for you. Which one of these tips do you think you’ll add to your schedule in the next 30 days and what would mean you’d successfully taken steps to reduce your solopreneur loneliness?