Guest Post from Renee Crandall Phile
To be honest, my first few weeks of working from home were pretty rough. Not because I didn’t enjoy my work or because it was too overwhelming, but because I was just so incredibly lonely! I missed being around people all the time and without anyone but my pet fish to talk with, I became a little depressed and well…lonely! Working from Home is convenient and fulfilling, but when loneliness creeps in, how do you cope? I quickly reevaluated my typical workdays and came up with some ways to combat the nagging, isolating feeling.
Manage Your Time
Seems like a no brainer, right? Think about how you manage your typical workday. Do you just sit down and begin working on a task and then move onto something else whenever you feel like it, then something else? How do you know when to take a break or do you take breaks at all?
I have noticed that a lack of structure can cause a lonely desperate feeling. A good rule of thumb is to make yourself a schedule of what you are going to work on and when, including when you will take breaks. For example, spend from 10:00-11:00 on writing blog posts, and then take a 20 minute break where you go outside and take a walk around the block while chatting with your friend on the phone and eating a banana (Okay, you don’t have to get that specific, but you know what I mean) Then from 11:20-12:20 work on your editing job and then take a 45-minute break for lunch where you meet your friend at the local coffee shop. By scheduling your work in detail, you are breaking up your day and easing the loneliness.
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Communicate With Others
In today’s society we have an abundance of ways to communicate with others: texting, social media, skyping and of course the telephone. Take advantage of these tools and use them regularly. I am not even a “phone person” but in my first few weeks of working from home I would jump with excitement whenever my phone would ring, even if it was a wrong number or a telemarketer. At least I had a chance to interact with another human! However, now I find myself picking up my phone and calling my mom or my friends whenever I feel like I just really need to hear another voice.
If you need to talk, talk!
Change Your Surroundings
Sometimes if you work in the same room at the same desk day after day, you will begin to feel bored and lonely. The smallest changes in your environment can give you a sense of refreshment. Rearrange your office. Move to another room. Play some music. Light a candle. Think of ways that you can change your surroundings and break up the monotony. Another way you can change your surroundings is to literally go somewhere else to work. The local library is not even a half-mile from my house so I like to go down there and work. Coffee shops are another good place to go. On any given day there are at least two other freelancers with their laptops, sipping on lattes at our local coffee shop.
Plan Ways to Socialize After “Work Hours”
Since you work at home, your work hours are probably flexible. However, most of your family and friends may have the typical 9-5-work schedule. Plan events with your loved ones for after work hours. You could go out to eat, go to the gym, go for a walk, just get together and play games, anything that you enjoy doing. If you know that you will have a social release later, you probably won’t tend to be lonely. I have made plans with family and friends just about every other day, even if it is something as simple as meeting at the gym. This gives me something to look forward to and also helps me focus on my work at the time since I know human interaction is coming!
Now my question is to you: Is this a common issue for people who work from home? What do you do to combat loneliness? I would love to hear any suggestions you have!