Working from home: 10 ways to stop feeling isolated and stay motivated
Feeling lonely and isolated can be a real problem for virtual workers or “solo-preneurs” (as they like to call us in the US).
The one-person businesses like virtual assistants, graphic designers, digital marketers and copywriters feel more pressure than most. Mainly because they charge by the hour so have a constant, nagging feeling that hours spent away is money lost.
When you start a business from home you thrive on your new sense of freedom and flexibility but working alone, putting in the hours and being chained to a computer can lead to feeling isolated.
You start to miss the office banter, there’s no one to bounce ideas off and most people you deal with are your customers; small business owners so you don’t like to call them because they’re busy too.
It’s a catch-22, you’re the one doing the work, planning the work and taking care of your own admin. There’s a lot to do in a virtual business and you can many waking hours doing it.
The problem when you’re feeling isolated and lonely you’re more susceptible to distractions, like browsing Facebook and Googling random ideas. Anyway, we’ll leave distractions aside for now and cover those in another article.
To combat isolation and avoid distractions build in some regular activities. Drop the guilt and find things which will benefit you, your business and get you back out into the world and away from your home office.
I also work on my own a lot and I know exactly how you feel… I have my desk in the spare bedroom which is convert loft. It’s lovely with feature chimney breasts combining giving me a staged area for white-board and cork boards. However I see no-one or animals each time I’m up there, if I’m lucky I get blue sky, however being based in Cheshire, it’s been more grey recently, oh and the occasional flock of birds in flight.
So what have I done, well I don’t want to spoil the rest of the article, but I use the telephone, the friendships I’ve made from networking, online meetings, like Zoom, weekly catch up calls and forum to keep feeling like I’m not “stuck in a loft seeing no-one each day”.
10 ways to combat isolation
There’s no better way to start the day than a breakfast networking event. It’s great for virtual workers. Breakfast networking is great because if you choose the right group, you can be back in your office by 10:30am.
Go to the library
When was the last time you went to your local library? It’s not just about books you know. Why not go grab yourself a desk in the library and the chances are you’ll meet someone doing exactly the same as you.
Go down the pub
If you don’t fancy the quietness of the library, try the coffee shop, local café or pub. I was in mine the other day, got chatting to another business owner and invited him along to my networking group.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking but it really doesn’t need to take up that much time. Nip along to your local business centre, chamber of commerce or charity office. Even if you can offer an hour a week, you time, skills and knowledge will be appreciated and it’s very satisfying to help someone else.
List of people to call
Get to know three of four people and see if you can agree to buddy up as a “phone a friend” type of arrangement. In other words, if you’re feeling isolated, lack motivation or need to rant, you can just pick up the phone.
Speak to your customers
Why not? Building a relationship with your customers is really important. So, pick up the phone, ask how everything is working, if they’re happy with your service or even did they get your invoice.
Everyone in business needs to make time for training. In this digital age things move so quickly that we need to keep on top on new technology, new ideas and keep our skills fresh. Look for workshops and courses in your local area.
Talk or seminar
Attend a talk or seminar. Choose something that interests you, it doesn’t have to be business-related. In my local pub there’s a great event on Monday evenings called SciBar where we get to hear from scientists, astronomers and other clever people.
Local interest groups
Walking, rambling, painting, drawing, there’s all sorts of activities out there you can choose. Don’t feel guilty. Doing something like this will give you some ooomph in your day and also time to think and as always, it’s the people you meet which may lead to new business.
Get a Dog
My favourite. Nothing gets you away from your home office like having a dog. So many advantages here: You have company all day, it’s compulsory to have walk and when you’re out with a dog, so many people stop to chat and you’ll never know who you may meet. Perhaps a new customer.
So there you have it, 10 ways to stay motivated, energetic and less isolated when you work on your own..
Whenever I start to feel isolated or a lack of motivation I lean on my networking contacts, and I find that helps me.
- What do you do to stay motivated?
- What would you add to the list?
Jump into the comments section and let me know what’ son your mind.