I am relatively new to the whole working-from-home scene so I’m still learning the ropes, but one of the things that has really caught me off guard was how lonely it can be when you work from home. It’s getting better now, but for the first few months I really felt out of touch and separated from my friends and family. If you are like me, you absolutely love the freedom that comes with working from home, and you wouldn’t give it up for the world. However, being lonely is no fun, either. Since going back to the cubicle maze is not an option, here are 10 things that you can do to overcome your loneliness when you work from home.
1. Instant Messaging
Get MSN or AIM, or whatever instant messenger most of your friends are using. I’m a shameless MSN addict. Instant messaging is one of the best ways to keep in touch when you can’t leave your desk. You don’t get bogged down on long phone conversations, and if you want to stay connected but you can’t be interrupted, you can set your status to busy or away.
2. Meet Contacts in Person
When I worked in cubicle-world, I almost never met up with my contacts in person, especially if they worked for the same company. Now that I work from home, however, I have been making a point of meeting with my contacts in person, either for a coffee or at their office. Meeting your contacts in person has two benefits: 1) it gets you out of the house, and 2) you get to spend time talking to someone face to face.
3. Work Outside Your House
You’ve all seen them; the contented-looking people at Starbucks happily typing away on their MacBooks and drinking their lattes. Working out of the house is great, if you can do it. Plus, it has the added benefit of being a pretty good cure for loneliness.
4. Schedule Coffee Breaks for Yourself
When I worked at a office, I always took my coffee breaks. They were a great way to relax, plus I got to hang out with my friends and chat for a few minutes. You can do the same thing at home, even if you can’t leave the house. Schedule a couple of 15 minute breaks in your day, and force yourself to take them. On your breaks, call a friend, or send some personal emails, or keep in touch some other way. It only takes 1/2 hour out of your day and it will go a long way towards making you less lonely.
5. Yabba Dabba Doo!
Being a work-at-home parent is no insurance against being a workaholic parent. If you wouldn’t work 3 hours past quitting time for a company, then don’t start doing it when you work for yourself. Schedule a quitting time for each day, and stick to it. There is a huge temptation to work “after hours” when you work for yourself, but remember that it is important to maintain a healthy balance. When your work day is over, you should be leaving your home office like you’re Fred Flintstone.
6. Have Lunches Out
At least once a week, try to have a non-work lunch outside your house, preferably on a Friday. This is a great way to get out of the house and connect with your friends. Try not to talk shop.
7. Include Your Family and Friends
If you can, it is great to include your family and friends in your home business. I have a couple of friends who I call regularly for help with business issues. This can be a great way to cure loneliness, plus it can also be great for your business. If you do this, remember to include time for “non-business” fun too, or your friends may start billing you for consulting services.
8. Don’t Do Housework
“Hi my name is Scott and I do housework to procrastinate when I should be writing.” We all do it. Nothing is more satisfying than avoiding a pile of work by spending 2 hours cleaning the bathroom. Well, I have another reason why you should avoid this trap. If you spend time doing housework when you should be working, the work will still need to be done, and you will end up having to use time that you could be spending with your family and friends. Just say no to housework. [Note from Wendy - careful about the other trap too: working too much to avoid housework, like me!! ]
9. Be More Social
When you work from home, your friends (especially work friends) will have a tendency to forget you. This isn’t intentional; it is just because you are not around them all the time so you just slip their mind. This means that you will need to take the initiative more often. If you feel left out by your friends, call them up and invite them out for a coffee.
10. Take “You” Days
Every week or so, take a day or a half-day, and do something for yourself. Go to the Zoo. Spend the day shopping. The idea is to relax and spend some time in the real world with real people for a while. Reward yourself. After all, having the ability to take time for yourself is one of the main reasons that you chose to work from home, isn’t it?
—– Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to Wendy for having me on as a guest blogger.
Scott Davis blogs at FindingYourMarbles.com, a site dedicated to providing good, informative, and friendly advice for people who suffer from mental illness to help them deal with the day-to-day issues in their lives.