This month the topic is loneliness when working from home. If you Google this phrase you will find a myriad of articles, blogs, websites that deal with this very issue. Please do a bit of research if this is a problem in your life, you will find a lot of helpful advice. This is an extremely common problem and one that afflicts many of us self-employed at home workers. As many more of us are now working from home, loneliness is having a greater impact on a larger proportion of society, which thankfully means there is a lot of meaningful advice to be found on this topic.
In a way I'm lucky because transcribing interviews means that I get to listen to people speaking all day which can satisfy the need to hear others and tend to make one feel a bit less lonely but let's face it, it's not the same as having a conversation with somebody, no matter how inane some of those office conversations could be.
The advantages of working from home are plentiful, no office politics, no commuting and getting stuck in traffic or dealing with public transport nightmares. Much higher productivity. The ability to construct your day the way you wish. Flexible hours. Reaping the rewards for your own hard work. Greater job satisfaction. And the list goes on. I don't like to harp on too much about how much I actually love working from home and for myself as I don't want to make others feel envious. I always downplay this aspect of my life when speaking to friends that are still doing the office grind.
When I began this venture of starting my audio transcription service, I had my own reservations. Many of my old colleagues and friends felt home working would not suit me due to my friendly nature. I am ultimately a pretty social person and one of my strengths is definitely my people skills. However, I am also an only child and so do not have massive issues with spending long stretches of time by myself, generally am happy in my own company and like to get things done in my own way.
But occasionally I find myself facing one of the two main reasons more people don't work for themselves from home (Uncertainty being the first, will I have enough clients, will they pay me on time etc, but this is a whole other blog topic) The second, loneliness. And when it hits, sometimes you find yourself unaware until suddenly you are actually feeling quite withdrawn and depressed. To combat this I have implemented a number of strategies. These are strategies that work for me, however, as I recently discovered it is really easy to let these slip and find yourself meandering all alone with your self confidence shot as you stumble down Lonely Avenue.
1) Get some exercise. Be it fitness classes, going to the gym, swimming, going for a walk, whatever gets you out of the house for an hour several times a week. It gets the positive endorphins going, it gives you some sort of social contact and helps the mind and body. I found it was easy to neglect this when I was busy but for the last six months I have been scheduling in my diary a time and what exercise I intend to do several days a week. This is a promise to yourself. Yes you can juggle it around if needs must but try to stick to it like you would with any other appointment. You will thank yourself.
2) Make time to meet with friends for a coffee or lunch at least once a week during your working day. Again, this is something I neglected and still do from time to time when I'm feeling the pressure of deadlines. But it is imperative to get out and see people, talk about normal things like books, television, films and be away from your home. I often felt guilty and frivolous making these plans but I now schedule them in as a matter of necessity. You are not good to anyone if you are grumpy, down and burnt out.
3) Do not use self-service check-outs. If I'm at the grocery store, I always check my stuff out with a human. It gives me a good excuse to talk about things like the weather and if provides that needed human contact. Well...also I hate those self-service check-outs, they stress me out to the max. So this might be a tip that only serves me well but give it a try.
4) Give yourself a working schedule, stick to it and finish work on time so that you can spend meaningful time with friends or family. I always try to be at my desk by 8am at the latest so that I can get a good chunk of my work done before getting out of the house for that much-needed break. If you start work late, or you waste time during your working day on social media etc, the day will drag on far too long and you will pay the price by working too late and feeling resentful.
5) Schedule yourself a fun weekday off every month or two, write it in your diary, stick to it. Enjoy your life. This is the ultimate bonus of working for yourself. You can do this. Take a Friday off, hop on a train, be with people, see new things, laugh.
6) Communicate with others. Clients may be helpful here if you need to communicate with them throughout the day, instead of just being totally businesslike you can talk about the weather, holidays or some current event going on (have I mentioned the WEATHER again?! Clearly I've acclimatised to life in England). You do not have to totally be shut down within yourself. I will admit this area can be a bit fraught with danger if you have the tendency to over share. This happens (Okay I'm North American, so this happens to me A LOT!) And admittedly I have ruminated on many a 'Over Share Moment' and palmed my face, but ultimately we all need real life connection to feel happy , alive and less lonely. As one of my clients who is older, wiser, and has been in this working at home lark for many years said to me, 'Just be yourself'. The most simplistic advice, but advice that applies to every facet of our lives if we are to live an authentic fulfilled life. So I'm going with it.
Now who wants to hear my opinion on the state of the world at the moment?
Next month...SEO and splashing the cash was it worth it?