What Nobody Tells You About Working Alone
Working in silo was once the preserve of writers, locked away tapping on their keyboards for hours on end. However, with developments in technology and communication, mixed with the ongoing transition of how we view ‘work’, there are now millions of people in the UK working alone whether employed or on a freelance basis. Forbes reported that between 2009 and 2017, there was a 25% rise in the number of us swapping our 9-5 for the freelance life. Combining this with the number of people working remotely underemployment and the acceleration in start-up businesses, working alone is now a daily occurrence for almost 6 million of us in the UK.
Granted, it sounds perfect, the chance to make your own schedule, finally work on something that makes you happy and even stay in your pants all day if you want to! But it doesn’t quite work like that. You’ll quickly find that you need to be in the right frame of mind to operate productively. So have a shower, get dressed and eat your breakfast before heading to your workspace for the day. An amazing book for creatives surrounding motivation and mentality towards work is ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, who provides tips on preparing yourself for the day ahead in order to be as productive as possible.
So, for anyone out there struggling to motivate yourself, or about to begin the voyage of solo occupation…
Here are my 6 top tips to working alone, learned from experience, and shared in the hope that they will be useful to you:
1 – Your environment is incredibly important if you’re working from home. A tip? Remove everything non-work related from your view to help you get into the zone. Noticing that you’ve left washing on the radiators, and it’s probably dry right now, will keep taking your mind elsewhere when you really need to focus. And switching between such tasks can produce a 40% decrease in productivity, according to Dr David Meyer – so removing these distractions is a must-do.
2 – You will quickly become responsible for everyone’s parcels in your street. Once the postman knows you are there, and they will know, you will have to sign for everybody’s deliveries. Consider it as a welcome break from your desk, and it will remind you to stop working when your neighbours start ringing your doorbell to collect after they’ve got home from work (plus if you’re anything like me, it’s also a good opportunity to guess what they’re having delivered).
Including breaks, whether it be the postman, a 5 minute walk or a stretch away from your computer or other workspace is paramount for the flow, productivity and motivation throughout your day. Research shows that regular ‘movement breaks’ decrease your likelihood of both physical and emotional health problems – including heart disease, diabetes and depression. Additionally, time apart from your work prevents decision fatigue, improves creativity, restores motivation in particular with long-term goals and helps to consolidate memories, therefore improving your learning ability.
3 – You will talk to yourself, having no one around to run your ideas by can be difficult. So find yourself a network of like-minded people to regularly speak with. Using tools like LinkedIn or Facebook will help you to find groups of people within your industry, working from home and sharing their thoughts online. Reach out and connect, you never know what might come from it.
4 – Alternatively, find some networking opportunities locally. Getting out at least once a week to meet other business owners will give you a chance to talk through any plans you are making. Plus, you could be meeting your next customers or suppliers this way too. I would recommend events such as Simply Networking and G Meets, set up by Grant Thornton which are free events and a great opportunity to meet other small businesses in your area. These are Liverpool specific, however checking in on Eventbrite, Meetup and Twitter will provide knowledge on events going on around the country, near to you and in your industry.
5 – If you decide that working from home isn’t for you, you could always look at joining a co-working space. This is much cheaper than hiring your own office space and you’ll have a group of colleagues to bounce ideas off during coffee breaks and at lunchtime. Some offer business mentoring opportunities and most will organise events that will aid alone working and self employment. If you’re looking for to co-work in the Liverpool area, there are incredible spaces all over the city. Two articles that spell out your options can be found on by heading to ‘Co-working in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle’ and ‘Co-Working Hotspots in Liverpool’.
6 – Set yourself clear deadlines! You are effectively your own boss now which means you will need to motivate yourself to complete tasks, by your own deadlines. Start your day with a list of 3 objectives, ticking off each job as you complete it. It has emerged that ‘The Rule of Three’ approach to your to-do list is one of the most effective. By having just three tasks to focus on each day helps your mind to stay centred and accomplish more by decluttering from reactive tasks, such as checking emails and scrolling through social media.
Oh, and always start with the task you like the least!
So to all the home office workers and freelancers, it isn’t exactly easy street but there are huge benefits to working from home. You’ll never have to take a day off to get the boiler fixed and you could plan your work around events like the World Cup! In addition to this, it allows you to create a lifestyle where you can manage your own time, often be your own boss working on something you’re passionate about and constantly think of, and implement, your own creative ideas. I hope these tips from my own experience help you in accessing your motivation and unlocks a world of working remotely that provides the lifestyle you envisioned.