7 ways to keep your sanity when you work from home
I love working from home, and I am very fortunate to have a beautiful workspace where I can work uninterrupted. Working from home has so many benefits … the flexibility to set your own schedule, the 30-second commute, the ability to get all the washing done. But it can also be very lonely, especially if you don’t have a lot of team or client interaction on a day-to-day basis.
Humans are social beings, and it’s not healthy for us to spend a lot of time on our own – yes, even if you’re an introvert! After being separated from each other during the pandemic lockdowns, we are craving connection more than ever, although many of us may be finding it harder to do so.
Isolation is also not good for your business.
A healthy business requires strategic decision-making, innovation, the energy and focus to deliver on our promises to our customers, and plenty of confidence to put ourselves out there.
Being on our own all the time can easily undermine all of these. We can start to overthink and second-guess our decisions. We become easily distracted by ‘bright shiny objects’ and get lost down social media rabbit holes. We start comparing ourselves to others and lose our confidence. Our creative wells dry up and we start running out of ideas.
If we’re not careful, we can burn out. Which is REALLY bad for business!
Overcoming isolation when working from home
Here are some ways I’ve discovered, over my many years of working from home, that keep me connected with the world and that may help you and your home-based business stay healthy and productive over the long haul.
1. Working in community spaces
If you have a laptop or notebook, your local library, café, park or shopping mall can be the perfect place to feel connected with the world. Even if you need your reliable internet, private meeting space or super-sized monitor to do your main work tasks, a couple of hours away from your desk a week will give you the opportunity to plan, generate new ideas, do your admin or prepare marketing content – all very important tasks for your business. In fact, a change of scene can be MORE productive for some of these tasks.
Choose somewhere that has a good ‘vibe’ for you to work in … light and airy architecture, a warm cosy fire, a view out onto a park, or a buzzy productive hum. Whatever makes you feel good and ready to get on with the task at hand.
2. Community co-working
Formal co-working spaces can be a great solution for soloists, but they’re not what I mean here. What I am talking about is getting together with a group of other home-based workers to work together. It can be at someone’s home or office, in a café, a library or other community space. There are even groups that co-work online if that feels more your style.
To get the most from your time together, spend a little time at the beginning to get to know your co-workers and what you are planning to get done so you can keep each other accountable.
In my experience, the best tasks for these sessions (especially IRL) are ones that you can do easily without requiring your full focus. Some days you WILL get chatting, and that may be exactly what you needed!
3. Accountability buddies
While having a business coach or mentor can be an incredibly effective way to keep you moving forward with your business, it’s a big investment in time and money. Sometimes, all you require is someone to keep you accountable.
Having an accountability buddy to check in with regularly (weekly, fortnightly or monthly), share your To Do list, bounce ideas around with and celebrate your achievements is a great way to get stuff done.
Zoom is fine, coffee catch-ups are better!
A bit like a business partnership, but without the stress and paperwork – collaborations can open up your business to projects and opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to tackle on your own AND enjoy the benefits of companionship, creative input and accountability that comes with having collaborative partner.
Trust is very important to the success of these relationships, so ensure you have mutual respect for each other’s skills and knowledge, clear (and preferably documented) boundaries, good systems and excellent communication.
5. Artist dates
Just as we need to fill our energy wells with rest, healthy food and exercise, we also need to fill our creative wells. This is especially important if you work in a creative field.
In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests taking regular Artist Dates, where you take some time out to explore and experience something new as a way to nurture your own creativity. It doesn’t have to be ‘art’ as such, although visiting a gallery is an excellent artist date. Things like window-shopping at boutique stores or markets, enjoying live music, theatre or sport, noticing small details in a familiar (or unfamiliar place), or getting out into nature are other options.
Julia recommends doing this alone, but I disagree. Spending quality time with a friend or your family allows you to experience things in new ways. For a start, you’ll have something interesting to talk about. They will notice details that you missed. You may have different opinions that help open you up to new ideas. You build memories together and deepen your relationship. What’s not to love!?
Helping others is a fabulous way to feel connected and inspired, so consider volunteering for a cause you care about.
It can be very difficult for organisations, schools and community groups to recruit volunteers during normal work hours, so those of us with flexibility are greatly appreciated.
Follow your curiosity … is there a particular industry or field that you’d like to explore? Or a particular community you’re attracted to and want to be more involved with? Volunteering is about generosity, but it’s not without benefits for you. You’ll make new friends, have some fun and possibly learn useful new skills that you can take back into your business.
7. Pop on a podcast
Really can’t get away from your desk? Listening to a podcast can help you feel less alone. Do a search or ask around, and create a playlist of your favourites or ones to explore further. Then when you need some ‘company’, choose one that suits your day’s mood and the tasks on your to-do list … do you need some general banter, some familiar voices, some deep and intelligent conversation or to learn something new?
There are many small business owners sharing their wisdom and connection through podcasts, so this is also a perfect way to support your peers, especially if you review and share their work.
One final word …
Just because you run a solo business does not mean you are meant to do this alone. Make sure you stay connected to others through a supportive small business community. Be active in networking groups – there are plenty, both online and IRL!
And if you are really struggling with isolation, please reach out and connect with someone – a friend, a fellow business owner you trust, a coach or a mental health professional. We are here to support you.
This article was originally published on Flying Solo – Australia’s Micro Business Community.
It’s been quite a journey to arrive here… and yet this is probably where I’ve always been heading. Sharing my experience, skills and knowledge to help reimagine work, life and leadership, and bring greater humanity and community into our working lives.
With over 25 years’ experience as a marketing professional – many in my own business – combined with a life-long curiosity and passion for positive psychology, leadership development and personal growth, I have explored ways we can achieve a more “wholehearted” version of success based on four principles – Purpose, Prosperity, Connection and Joy.
Using these as a foundation, I believe we can reshape our world into one that is more sustainable, loving, kind and connected.
Are you ready to join me?