I love writing. I love even more that I get paid to write.
It’s pretty awesome.
As a mom of two young kids, having the ability to work from home and fit writing in around their schedules is great. It’s one of the big reasons I pursued this work.
I’ve worked from home at least a few hours a week for the last ten years, however, starting in 2016, pretty much ALL of my work was happening from home.
20, 30, sometimes 40 hours a week, spent at home (or, at Starbucks, kids’ lessons, at appointments…you get the idea. I wasn’t at work.).
While this sounds great (and generally, it is), what this also means is that I’m spending A LOT of time on my own. Away from people.
Sometimes, it’s really nice not to work with other people.
I don’t have to worry about my hair or make-up.
I don’t have to be in a pleasant mood all the time.
I can listen to music when I want, eat food at my desk, and not worry that my work habits may be bothering someone (other than my kids).
However…as an extrovert, there are some drawbacks to working from home as a freelance writer:
- I don’t get to interact with others (aside from kids) for the majority of the day.
- There are no impromptu social outings like “let’s grab lunch” or “want to stop for a drink on the way home?” (I miss that!!).
- I get more easily distracted (often on social media), because it gives me a sense of what’s going on outside my four walls.
- There aren’t people to bounce ideas off of or to get their input on projects.
- I communicate less clearly with others. When I focus so much on the written word (and, when a lot of my speaking is with a 5 year-old and a 2 year-old), I’m not as clear with people when it comes time to actually interact.
- I’m grumpier sometimes because I’m not meeting a fundamental need to connect with others. And, as an extrovert, that need is stronger for me than it might be for others.
For extroverts, it can feel strange to be on your own at work.
I’ve mentioned that I only have my kids to talk to for a big part of the day, but it does give me people to talk to. Some extroverts who work from home won’t have anyone to connect or chat with. That can be a big change from a traditional work environment.
If you’re an extrovert, you might be less productive on your own. In a traditional setting, even without people hovering over you, there’s a collective sense of “we’re here to work”- you can’t recreate that at home.
So, how can extroverts handle the unique realities of the freelancer lifestyle?
- Attend conferences, classes, or other ways of connecting with other professionals. Though these events may not happen often, it’s nice to look forward to them, and you may develop professional relationships where you can check in and connect with the people you meet on a more regular basis.
- Take meetings on the phone. Sometimes this does feel like a pain because scheduling can be tricky, but I love it when someone wants to have a phone meeting. It’s so nice to hear someone’s voice, and allows me to “use my words.”
- Consider a coworking space to allow you to interact with others. Not only are you around others, but you may meet people to collaborate with.
- Be a part of a mastermind group. Many of these interactions happen asynchonrously online (think, Facebook groups), so add in synchronous, live communication, like check-ins over FaceTime: this allows you to get more of your social-fix and build your business.
- Find ways to interact within the work you do. If you work with companies that use chat programs like Slack, take advantage for some interaction. Don’t be all weird, or try to chat non-stop, but use it to connect with others. I’ve actually made a good friend through DMs on Slack- our conversations started about work-related tasks, but over time we’ve become friends and found we have a lot in common both personally and professionally.
- Be social when you’re not working. Plan outings with friends, but also go to the gym (or for walks), to the grocery store- wherever. Take advantage of some of the mundane tasks as times to interact.
- Find an accountability partner. Team up with another freelancer, commit to what tasks you’ll get done, and then check in with each other along the way. This could be a weekly call, daily texts, or whatever works best for the two of you. Whatever you pick, you’re interacting.
Shifting to a freelance writing career and working from home has been a great experience with many positives. One challenge I didn’t anticipate stemmed from being an extrovert and enjoying being around people both personally and professionally.
For extroverts, we shouldn’t overlook the importance of socializing and connecting with others. Use these tips and continue to check in with yourself as you continue on with your freelance writing career!