The most unexpected thing about becoming self-employed was how much trouble I had focusing once I was working alone. I wasn’t great at focus before, I admit, but it became a huge challenge without the structure and community of a workplace to go to.
I started thinking I was going crazy or that I’d suddenly gotten “self-employment induced ADD.” I would do housework when I needed to be working, to avoid facing that scattered mind, only to find that the head-spin would get worse and worse. Sound familiar? (C’mon, raise your hand. It’s so common.)
In our push-push culture, we think the cure for focus problems is to push ourselves harder, get more disciplined, learn better time management, etc. Right? But I believe a more effective cure is to get some co-workers… in a way that works for us. We need camaraderie to keep our minds sharp.
I know, introverts like me who love the peace and quiet of working alone will resist this idea, at first. Hear me out.
We are pack animals, just like wolves. The lone wolf success story is a myth. (Click image for source and Creative Commons license.)
It’s a big shift to go from working in a company with co-workers all around you, to working on your own. Even when you’re thrilled by the freedom, the shift away from the workplace community is stressful for anyone. I see it all the time with my clients after leaving a job, and I can honestly tell them and you: You are not alone in that stress.
I’ll explain how I have found my balance between people time and alone time, which has mostly cured my self-employment induced ADD. (I mean, I still need some other focusing tricks but the people connection has been the core solution for me.) Continue reading