The benefits of communities for freelancers: Building good habits

If I had a pound for every article or book I’ve read to help me build better habits as a freelancer… well, I still wouldn’t be a millionaire because most “productivity hacks” don’t acknowledge one of the biggest barriers to freelancer productivity: isolation.

They often make productive, successful freelancers sound like self-sufficient islands, all-knowing with perfect self-discipline, without the help of anyone else. I talk with other freelance folks every day, so I know I’m not alone in struggling with procrastination, lack of motivation and finding a balance between work and personal life when you’re going it solo.

But what are we missing if it doesn’t come naturally?

Important note before we go further: it’s not your fault. Some people may thrive in more isolated working environments, but it’s certainly not unusual if you find you’ve lost your focus and drive tapping away by yourself every day.

70% of us report that feeling disconnected or isolated as a result of being self-employed causes us extra stress or anxiety, so it’s no wonder we might be lacking some oomph!

The solution: finding your people.

A notion that I loved from reading Atomic Habits, as well as something I’ve seen play out in the communities I’ve helped build and run: “surround yourself with a culture you desire and people you admire to build good habits”.

It’s easy to get caught up in productivity ‘hacks’ and well-intentioned advice about habit-building, and while there are some brilliant, evidence-based approaches to give you a jumpstart, my own experience and speaking to other freelancers tell me that the right people are where you’re more likely to find your fuel and stay consistent.

How does joining a community help build habits as a freelancer?

Reflecting on your week and wins

With my co-host Emma Cragg, I run the Leapers Accountability Pod, a monthly accountability group for freelancers. Everyone starts the week by setting intentions. At the end of the week, we dial in, have some quiet reflection time, and then bring in the weekend by sharing what we’ve achieved, and what we’ve learned to take into next week and celebrating our little wins. It keeps us accountable, but also gets us thinking about how our actions this week set us up for next week so that we’re more likely to do it again. Pat on the back for us!

Finding rhythm with recurring events

Remember being a kid and going to after-school clubs? Apart from getting to delay homework and hang out with your friends outside of class, they gave our weeks a rhythm and broke up the monotony of school. It’s not much different being a grown-up freelancer and looking forward to recurring events. They could be more low-key, reflection sessions like we do in Leapers Pods, or full in-person occasions, like Othership networking events.

If you’re a freelance-focused business and you’d like to read more on the value of recurring events for your community, I wrote a whole piece on it right here.

Discovering it’s ‘not just you’

Is it just me?” is a source of anxiety for a lot of freelancers when it comes to procrastination and low motivation. Keeping it bottled up can leave you feeling low and isolated, which in turn leads to more procrastination and low motivation (speaking from experience here!). Breaking out of this vicious cycle could be as simple as sharing how you’re feeling, and hearing back that you’re not the only one.

Where do you find a freelance community?

I recently hosted a session with Freelance Business Community about harnessing community power, and we came up with the following ways we found our communities, and where you can start your search: Facebook or LinkedIn groups, networking groups and events, course cohorts, Meetup, Eventbrite, Twitter, coworking spaces…

BUT if you’d like a cheatsheet of places you can dive straight into, here’s a bumper list to get you going…

  • Freelance Business Community
  • Leapers
  • The Marketing Meetup
  • Othership
  • Freelancer Magazine
  • Enterprise Nation
  • Being Freelance Community
  • Freelance Heroes
  • Doing It For The Kids



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