I woke up this morning (after a wonderful and sunny week away in beautiful Devon with friends and family) to a dull, grey and windy (almost Autumnal) day. Yuck.
Working from home can be absolutely brilliant. It has been a great fit for my business and my family but it's no secret that home working can also be very isolating and often lonely. There's no office based banter. No conversations by the water cooler. No secret santa. Just you, the radio and your desk.
Home working is certainly not for everyone but it CAN be a great fit for many people. This being said, and having talked to many other home workers, almost everyone can have some days where they feel isolated and alone.
This is perfectly normal but there are ways you can combat it...
These pieces of advice are perfect for helping to avoid any home working loneliness
Set your work area - This is HUGE. A turned on computer sitting in your 'non-work' space is hugely distracting. You just can't get away from it and getting away from it is really, really important. I'm not saying you can't sit down of an evening to get some work done but I am saying you need to have a set place to do that. Otherwise you will find yourself sitting at your computer 'just because it's there' when you should be spending time not working. Really important to have that time too.
Set your hours - If you can you really should set your work and non-work hours. This will give you the chance to escape from your desk and do something which is not work related. Very important for your mental well being. Again, i'm not saying you can't work outside these hours, if you were in a job and your work wasn't finished 9 times out of ten you'd stay late or come in early. That's fine to do when home working too but the temptation when home working is you're never done with it. You really need to set your boundaries and give yourself a break
Get away from your desk - during your 'downtime hours' try and make sure you get away from your desk. It's so easy when you're working away with no distractions to totally fly past lunch or a coffee break. You wouldn't do that (generally) in an office environment so don't do it at home. Your brain and your body need a break. I like to take my lunch into the garden for twenty minutes or into another room and read my book.
Get some fresh air / take some exercise - This one is another big deal. Get yourself out of the house and get some fresh air. This is a big thing for your mental health. Change of scenery, fresh air and a chance to not be stuck to the desk. I have a friend who swims for an hour every day during their lunch. I get to walk every day to go on the school run which helps to break up the day. I also like to find time to exercise of an evening once my husband is home. Fresh air and exercise is brilliant for your overall mental health and, if you are feeling a little low or isolated, a burst of exercise, fresh air and the subsequent released endorphins will do wonders for you.
Pick up the phone - If possible rather than sending an email I will pick up the phone. Contact and interaction with another person really helps to combat any loneliness. It's not the same as replying to an email and will make you feel connected with other people
Make a meeting - If you can meet people instead of emailing or phoning then try and do that where you can. I personally set myself an hour for a meeting otherwise the temptation is to spend longer with the person as you are enjoying the contact but this is not productive
Skype - Make the most of technology. Skype and others like it are brilliant for keeping in touch and a great tool for homeworkers. I use it to sit in on meetings and catch up with clients face to face. Brilliant to help break up the day and interact with people. Also important not to be 'faceless' to your clients.
Embrace social media - Loads and loads of self-employed home workers are active users of social media. Not only is it great for networking and learning but it is also great for staying connected with the outside world. Short interactions with other users throughout the day help you feel in touch with others and stop you feeling isolated.
Join Groups - whether networking groups such as the popular 4N or other sites such as Meet Up you can always find other people in the same situation as you which will also help to get you out and about but also help you to build your business and contacts at the same time.
Find like minded people - Whether you find them online through social media or through joining a group finding others who are in the same boat as you is key. You can use them a confidantes, sounding boards and, of course, friendship. You will have a great deal in common so use it!
Find self employed co-workers - There are all sorts of schemes now which allow home workers and self employed people to actually work together and share a workspace. Websites such as UK Jelly are perfect for this! Their website claims 'Our aim – to bring home workers, freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs together in a relaxed, informal, working environment to maximise creativity and minimise the isolation that being your own boss can bring!'
I'd say that is pretty much the ideal solution to banish those home working blues!
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