When it’s good you seem to have a conveyer belt of ideas and a lot of time the work is interesting so not really conscious of being isolated. But when the ideas start to dry up as do the commissions and self-confidence means working alone starts to suddenly feel a lonely place.
Looking back on it now I realise that the slow periods I experienced as a home freelancer in Prague, the boredom, frustration and the lack of seeing people during the day was not great for my overall psyche and well-being. Suffering boredom and frustration at work is not unique but as a home freelancer I felt that it was exacerbated by the greater isolation. I also certainly felt that it affected my relationship with my then girlfriend.
The isolation and slow periods mean that I was more reliant for interaction the moment she got home from work. Also if you have a bad day at the office you can leave that behind you when you get home but it’s different for a home freelancer because your home is also your office.
Working as a home freelancer in Rome brought with it different challenges. Trying to be stay focused in sweltering summer heat in a flat with no air conditioning felt almost unbearable and futile at times. While home working in Berlin brought with it another potential curse of the freelancer life, that of distractions.
In London, Prague and Rome weekdays were easier to negotiate without the feeling of missing out. In Berlin you really feel that you are in the midst of a 24-hr party city and that means possible distractions. Living in shared flats in Berlin you are more acutely aware that everyone is out and possibly having the time of their life and you are not.
But this is only one form of distractions a home freelancer can experience. Others include girlfriends and flatmates hovering around and interrupting your thought process and work focus to spending time surfing the web and watching another episode of the Sopranos or The Wire. Even the benefits of a relaxed environment can be a double edge sword as home freelancing can make you so relaxed that it can be hard to be fully industrious at times.
So what is my personal analysis after a number of years as a home freelancer? The combination of isolation, distractions and even being over relaxed maybe need to be addressed, to sustain a good level of productivity and personal wellbeing.
Solutions? Thinking logically a coworking space could be the answer to my problems particularly if the recent Deskmag 3rd Global Coworking Survey is any indication. 71% of respondents said their creativity had increased since joining, and 62% said their standard of work had improved. Countering the common claim that coworking spaces can be distracting, 68% said they were able to focus better, as compared to 12% who said the opposite. While 64% said they could better complete tasks on time.
Probably the most cogent finding from the survey, highlighted by Deskmag before, ‘it is less important if you work from home, but rather how often you do. 90% of members that work in coworking spaces still sometimes work from home, but in most cases, it's not their main workspace anymore. As a result, they are able to focus better and feel much less isolated.’
I kinda like those stats. Time for a change maybe?