What are the ways that you get support for the work you do? Do you have a supportive boss or colleagues? Do you belong to a professional organisation? Do you speak to family and friends?
I’m a solopreneur, so some of those things aren’t readily available to me. Especially as I am sometimes travelling as I work.
What I do- and what you might also find useful- is to have cafe sessions.
My wife and I do this, alternating between us. If we can, we have them at roughly monthly intervals (meaning that we each get one every two months).
What happens is this:
When it is my turn, I get to choose a cafe that I’d like to visit. In the photo above I’m at a cafe from my most recent session, enjoying the best cold coffee I’ve ever tasted.
Ideally you want to choose somewhere that will be quiet enough to talk easily; where you can stay for a few hours without annoying the staff; which feels like a treat but not so much that you want to focus on the food rather than your work (ie nothing too fancy); and which you can get to easy enough that it doesn’t encroach on your day or the other person’s day too much.
After we get to the cafe and order food, we begin working while we are waiting for it to arrive. When our food arrives we normally enjoy that first so that we can appreciate it properly and then start work again after that- usually buying further coffee/cake etc to keep us fueled and so that the cafe is happy with us.
If it is my turn, I then start running through a pre-prepared list of things I want to discuss. Examples might include things like:
- Challenges I am facing in my business that I’d like my wife’s opinion on
- Questions I am not sure about which she can help me answer
- Projects I have on the go that I want to share with her because I find them exciting
Some of the time we can’t come to firm conclusions about the things I’m talking about until we have both done further research. A recent example was that I wanted my website to have a certain piece of functionality which I outlined to my wife and then she found what I was looking for after the session.
Much of the time the items on my list are covered quite quickly- it just really helps to explain them out loud to another person.
I find these sessions immensely helpful for 3 other main reasons:
- They allow me to get things off my chest when I find things hard
- They force me, (so as not to waste too much of either of our days) to get to the most important things I need to focus on and the most important issues in each of those areas
- They allow me to get some positive feedback for what I am doing, to be challenged when I need to be and to share with someone I care about the essence of what is going on with my work
Normally our chats take somewhere between 1.5 to 2.5 hours (including having the food) and we try to get up particularly early and have them first thing, if we can.
So, who should you have these sessions with?
I think having them with a partner or close friend is particularly useful- but really it is anyone that you trust. Ideally the person you have these meetings with should have at least a layman’s understanding of the work that you do, so you don’t have to spend too long in the meeting explaining it to them. As my wife and I work on some very similar things but also have distinct skills, we are particularly lucky in this way- if you can find someone who knows your area of work pretty well, it will be even better for you.
I hope that this idea is useful to you. Even if you do have formal support structures in your work environment of a kind that I lack, you still might find it works as an additional way for you to share ideas and tackle problems.