I have one week of sanity left. Or rather, I fear I might have one week of sanity left.
Next week, I go full-time with this freelancing malarkey. For the first time in 27 years (aside from brief maternity leave), I – who have more often had 2 or 3 jobs than 1 – won’t be employed by anybody.
The nature of my work has always brought me into contact with LOTS of people. Presently, I’m at my ‘employed work’ for at least part of 4 out of 5 working days.
What will it be like, then, when I’m working from my home office full-time? Will I be – gulp – LONELY?
Biting the Bullet
In case you’re wondering why I’ve made the move when I sound a bit concerned about it, there are several reasons.
Finances: My current employment is so poorly paid that the new Living Wage limit just gave me a wage rise. You’ll guess from the opening paragraph and a bit of maths that I’m no spring chicken and I have a raft of qualifications, including a first BA Hons in English Literature. So, minimum wage? Ouch. My husband supported me while I worked part-time, raised the children and got a degree – so now they’re grown-up, it’s time for me to contribute more financially.
Am I desperate for money? Not at all. I have plenty of freelancing work and we’re comfortable financially, but my son will be off to university next year and in this age of abolished maintenance grants, that’s not going to be cheap.
Flexibility: For personal reasons, I need a bit more flexibility. In my current role, if I need to take time off for any reason, someone who would normally be enjoying a day off has to cover me.
Fun: I’m having less of it than I used to at work, employed in a field with ever-changing goalposts. Time for a change.
That’s all very well, but… I’m going to miss people. Contact. Sharing a laugh and passing the time of day with colleagues, people involved in my work and people on the way to and from work (it’s a village. Everyone says hello).
My Manifesto Against Misery
So, how will I tackle the lack of human contact?
Firstly, you can put the violins away for now. Currently, my daughter’s work schedule means she’ll be around on Thursdays and Fridays (the downside of this is that those days are her ‘weekend’, but not her friends’ weekend. She wants someone to chill with. I refer you to my other articles on the Distraction of Unoccupied Family Members). Also, at the moment, my husband usually works from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He’s often in video conferences with colleagues, though, so we only socialise at lunch time or the odd coffee break (often arranged by making the universal ‘Coffee?’ hand signal/mime off camera).
But that still means I’m only seeing family, and that I’m by myself on Mondays and Wednesdays. It all sounds a bit insular and uninspiring.
That’s why I’ve written myself a Manifesto Against Misery (yes, I know – I would have called it something else, but I’m an alliteration addict and couldn’t think of a suitable word to go with loneliness).
- I will ensure that I interact with at least one freelancing buddy on social media every day.
- On either Monday or Wednesday, I will spend at least part of the day working somewhere else. Inconveniently, these are the two days my local library is closed, so it’s going to have to be somewhere I have to do that pesky handing-over-money-for-coffee thing.
- I will look out for opportunities to join and/or socialise with freelancing or professional groups.
- Once a week, I will try to have coffee or lunch with a friend.
- If I find myself going nuts or other family members change their work schedule and are never at home, I’ll look at working further afield at the library in town or a co-working space.
I’m open to any other suggestions – so, if you work from home, what strategies do you use to stave off loneliness and keep yourself sane?