Do you work from home and spend most of your working day on your own? Along with many benefits of being home-based, it can also have its downsides. At times it can be a bit lonely, you can start to feel isolated and even demotivated, so how do you stop this from happening?
When you work on your own, the sound of silence can be deafening; it can be hard to get motivated and thoughts of giving up can arise. If this happens to you, don’t fret, it happens to us all at times. We’re not designed to be on our own, we’re social animals and need company and that’s why sometimes the isolation of being home-based can lead to low productivity; the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
I spent over 20 years working for big businesses, surrounded by colleagues and friends, with office banter and always someone available for a coffee and a chat if I needed a break. Now instead of being in a large busy office, I work from my spare room, predominately on my own. I made this change so that I could have a more flexible life-style and to work around my children’s school hours and most of the time it’s great, but I do miss my old work colleagues and the social interactions I once had.
So here are my top tips as to avoid feeling isolated
- Don’t sit in silence – make sure you have background noise of some sort, I tend to have radio 2 quietly babbling away all day, barely loud enough to hear, but the sound of chatter makes me feel like I’m not on my own
- Keep in contact – when you feel like you’ve not spoken to anyone all day, you probably haven’t! Pick up the phone and speak to someone; it can be anyone – someone you’re working with, a friend, your mum; it doesn’t matter who. You just need to make sure you speak to someone at least once a day. Don’t worry if it takes you away from your work for a bit, having a conversation with someone will give you the break you need and will help you be more efficient when you get back to your computer.
- Get out of the house – First and foremost your house is your home and you need to keep it that way. If it’s starting to feel like a prison you need a change of scenery. Most cafés have wifi these days, pick up your laptop and go work somewhere else for a bit. You’ll see new people, experience new things and feel more refreshed when you return home.
- Be active on social media – there are loads of groups on all the social media platforms that have been created to connect like-minded people together. They provide you with interactions, comments and the feeling of being part of a team. It doesn’t have to take up loads of your time, you can be as active or passive as you need to be.
- Walk away from the computer – Make sure you take regular breaks from your screen, the HSE website suggests you take short breaks after about 60 mins of continuous screen use. I know that sounds crazy when you’re so busy, but taking regular breaks helps ward off fatigue, muscle ache and eyestrain, all of which you don’t want, especially if you’re already struggling with motivation!
- Go for regular walks – This isn’t about a fitness regime, but it is about clearing your head and getting oxygen to your lungs. It’s also about giving your brain new stimulus by seeing different things to your four walls. And, you never know, you might bump into someone for an impromptu conversation!
- Join a networking group – Not only is networking great from a marketing point of view, it is also so beneficial to your mental well-being. Being part of a good networking group gives you regular points in a month where you meet up with other small-businesses, here you will share experiences, build relationships and share leads.
- DO NOT TURN ON THE TV! If you’re feeling demotivated and lack-lustre, the last thing you should do is turn on the TV… this will zap the last bit of motivation you have. If you do this, you might as well write the rest of the day off and start again tomorrow!!!
- Remind yourself why – Remember all the brilliant reasons why you made the decision to work from home. There are so many benefits to being home based, get them in your head and focus on them.
- Don’t give up – If you really can’t remember what you’re meant to be doing today, or you can’t be bothered to write that boring document or whatever it is that has stopped you in your tracks. Then start to do something else work related instead, write a blog, do some research, scribble down a to-do list, just do something and then it will all start to come flooding back to you.
I know working on your own can be hard, but it can also provide you with such a rewarding quality of life, if only you can stop feeling isolated.
For me, when the noise of a silent work space gets too much, I find myself grabbing my wellies, putting the dog on the lead and heading off to the fields for a change of scenery. It’s what I did this morning and where the idea for this blog came from!
Remember, feeling isolated comes to us all at times! You just need to find the right way for you to get through it.
At Brilliant Together we provide help and support to many small businesses, providing them with a virtual team, people to bounce ideas off and someone to have that virtual coffee break with.
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