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Overcoming a Solitary Work Life

Despite the rewards, sometimes freelancing or running a home-based business can be a lonely job. I do both – I run an online PR firm from home and do freelance business writing on the side. I can spend anywhere from 8 – 16 or so hours per day behind a computer working, without another soul in sight.I like working alone. I get more done (and there’s a neverending supply of work to be done). Yet there are times where I really need some human interaction and miss having colleagues around to shoot the breeze with.Working on your own doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. I’m a big advocate of networking if you want to succeed in business, and you can create a solid social and business network even if, like me, your work is entirely solo and Web-based. Here are some of the things I do personally:

  • I regularly email a few select colleagues that I’ve become friendly with. We can talk about work or industry issues, or even our personal lives.
  • There are a handful I call or Skype from time to time as well. Sometimes there’s just no substitute for actually speaking to another human being.
  • I’m very friendly with a few clients (mostly of the musician variety) who I keep in touch with on a social network for the most part. Again, we’ll talk about work, art, life, or whatever gets us going that day.
  • I blog. Given, blogging is a part of my business model, but if I didn’t blog, I’d go crazy. The interaction I have with new people as well as colleagues I’m familiar with is just priceless. I still find blog conversations to be some of the best and most productive.
  • I do interviews – on both sides. Not too long ago I was turning down every interview request I got (I get them often enough through another blog of mine). I’ve recently opened up and started accepting them, because frankly it’s another chance to network, introduce myself and my thoughts to new people, and learn something from the ideas of others. On the other side, I also try to conduct interviews periodically (mostly for my PR blog or my freelance writing blog).
  • I join forums. I’m a moderator for a large webmaster forum, and I literally can be in there for hours each day in between projects, when my main work is done, etc. I learn a lot, share advice, do business, and simply socialize with like-minded folks.

Are these things really a substitute for more personal interaction? No. But they do help me get through the monotony of some days, occasionally put a smile on my face, and are usually productive in some way. Here are a few other things you may do that I’m not necessarily actively involved with or a fan of:

  • You can force the face-to-face interactions by attending (or giving) seminars, going to conferences, etc.
  • If it makes sense for your business, and you can build a local client base, you can take meetings in person instead of virtually.
  • You can use a wide variety of social networks or microblogging tools like Twitter.

In what other ways do you overcome loneliness or boredom associated with working by yourself?

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