Isolation as a Major Cause of Solopreneur Burnout, and What To Do About It

 I'm told that human beings are social animal and need a fair amount of interaction with others to stay in good psychological balance. As an introvert, I can't really confirm that. LOL!  Nonetheless, for those of use who are solopreneurs,  isolation is one of the big causes of burnout.

 

Whether you are a psychotherapist /coach/ intuitive reader who can't have balanced give and take in your business relationships due to the priority of keeping the focus on your clients, or a website designer running a one-person business that often puts in more facetime with a computer than a client, many solopreneurs I know have few others who can understand their work and share their miseries.

 

Work life, therefore, can sometimes feel like being imprisioned in the isolation necessary to get the job done.

 

Lots of problems can arise from isolation, among them:

 

  • time management and productivity issues

  • feeling pressured to do everything all at once

  • feeling guilty about what's not getting done

  • constant anxiety about forgetting something important

  • suffering a lack of meaningful and mutual connection via work

 

So what can we do about feeling crushingly isolated without changing careers or giving up a home office?

 

 

1. Set Firm Work Hours

 

Probably because so many solopreneurs struggle to get clients, we tend to take work calls and agree to meet with clients at almost all hours, 7 days a week.  This can give the illusion of not being isolated, but it will also make you chained to your clients' whims and schedules. It's a fast track to burnout.  So set hours that work best for you and don't worry -- clients will adapt. They will even some to see you are in high demand and align with your open office hours. 

 

 

2. Work With Not Against Your Personal Energy

 

If you aren't a morning person, there is no need to start work at 8 am. If you're on the West Coast like I am but have or want clients in different time zones, don't let them talk you into scheduling calls convenient to their time zone. More can be accomplished by email that you might think. And a 7 pm evening chat for them is still only 4 pm for you. Frame your work time around the hours you are most productive, most conscious, and feel most energized.

 

 

3. Schedule Life Errands for Your Time Off

 

Working for yourself, and especially working from home, makes it tempting to throw in a load of laundry between client appointments, or rush out for groceries when a client cancels. I urge you not to do that. Save those chores for hours that are outside of your set work time.  There is plenty of business tasks to do during the quiet hours of the work day -- like creating a new marketing brochure or researching for a new blog. 

 

 

4. Politely Refuse Difficult Clients

 

Unless you are a therapist specializing in borderline personality cases,  solopreneurs are NEVER obligated to work with clients who present themselves as demanding, abusive, manipulative, scatterbrained, unreliable, litigious, or otherwise difficult from the initial contact. No psychotherapist is required to work with someone who you intuitively sense will not be compliant or serious about the work, or drops hints of being emotional manipulative or litigious from the get-go. 

 

Coaches, intuitive readers, and website designers will learn to recognize these types of clients over time, and should refer them to mental health counseling. Doing so will save you a lot of time, money, and stress.

 

Tell these clients -- sorry, I don't have the skills  / training / license for what you are needing. Then refer them to a locator directory for the right kind of help.

 

 

5. Join a Private Social Media Group of Like-Experts

 

We all need a place where we can ask questions, get and give help, vent, and share our business challenges. Such groups may be hard to find in your local community or have meeting hours that don't work for your energy or work schedule. Online groups are perfect for breaking the feeling of isolation, and if composed of international members, will have people active online whenever you are.

 

 

6.  Take Frequent Long Weekends

 

As a solopreneur, you don't have a boss to approve requests for time off. This is one of the best perks we get, so make good use of it. I recommend 4 day weekends once a month, in addition to whatever national holidays others get. And take at least 2 weeks off in the summer and winter. The harder you work the more you need and deserve this kind of time off to recharge your spirit and reconnect with friends and family.

 

 

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​I ​​do two basic things when I work with people:

I bring 40 years of experience and training​ to bear on the projects or situations at hand, and

I strive to problem solve with the best of my expertise in order to satisfy the client's needs.

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