Tips To Overcome The Isolation Of Working From Home

March 15, 2017

Working from home has many appealing qualities.  Loungewear all day!  No spending money on parking, food, or coffee!  Flexibility in your schedule!  But, there are plenty of tradeoffs that are not for everyone.  It can be lonely as hell.  There’s temptation all around on those low productivity days (Netflix! YouTube! HGTV!).  And as much as you can be unmotivated, it’s also incredible easy to overwork yourself.  There’s no office to leave, or boss to ignore after hours.  Boo to self discipline.

I’ve worked from home for 6 years now.  Which, is a bit strange for someone who thrives in a workplace (and in life, really) by feeding off other people’s energy.  It has definitely been tough at times.  There have been stretches where the isolation takes over, and it’s a challenge to feel social.  Looking back, I wish there were a few things I’d implemented from the beginning to attempt to avoid those uninspired times.  Read on below for a few tips I’d pass on to anyone who is or is going to work from home!

Set Clear Work Hours

It took me a couple years to figure this out.  I was in a perpetual student-like state of guilt, in that I felt like I could/should be working – always!  Realistically, you have to allow yourself to unplug at times (I type, at 1 in the morning…) and do your best to stay within a slightly regimented timeframe.  Sure, there will be weekend work and some later nights, but I think that’s the case for so many people in their careers.  Any sort of routine that you can put in place from the beginning is awesome.

Create An Inspired Work Environment

Have a shower, get dressed, and feel the part.  Implement anything that will get those creative juices flowing!  I like to put on my Saje Diffuser and a playlist or podcast to get me in the right mindset.  If your home is messy, tidy up for a few minutes before you even open up the computer.  Sitting amongst clutter will only weigh on you and slow you down.  And hey, if you have a ton of work to do, then escape to an area where you can forget about the mess for a few hours.  Not that my house is always neat, but putting in a few minutes to clean while my morning coffee is brewing, saves me any regret later on!

Learn To Say No

Ahh the classic curse of a hard worker/people pleaser, is that you struggle to turn away events, a meeting, or a casual hangout.  After years of entrepreneurship, I will tell you right now that learning to say no is one of the most valuable tools.  In the sense of my career, it has helped me edit out any collaborations that aren’t well aligned.  When it comes to being a one woman show, it has helped me learn how to balance my daytime social life.  When I started working from home, everyone assumed I was available during the day (okay, that is often still the case).  And it’s really tough for me to say no, because let’s face it, a catchup coffee date > emails.  We all know that avoiding work during the day means working well into the night though, and that it’s not exactly the most quality hangout when you’re stressing and your mind is elsewhere.  Which is a long winded way to say that I highly recommend separating your social life from work hours as often as possible.  What has been effective lately, is I’ve started picking one day every second week, where I can dedicate a half day to a social hangout with one of my many friends with a baby.  Love spending a Friday afternoon to my mat leave pals  and getting some baby snuggles in!

Get Up Every Hour

The amount I pay in chiropractic bills now, I tell ya! I just spent the last 4 years sitting criss cross apple sauce on the couch while working on my laptop and not getting up for hours on end.  Didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but skipping meals, not drinking enough water, and not moving enough has taken a SERIOUS toll on my health.  If you’re looking to kick the habit, my fitbit has been a really great tool to remind me to stand up hourly (it’s shocking how quickly 60 minutes can fly by when you’re deep into the internet) or a simple phone timer is great too.  I try to get up to get water, stretch, do a little dance, or a mini yoga session.  I love the short sequences that Yoga With Adriene does!

And Get The Heck Outside

Similarly, you have to get outside.  I cannot stress this enough!  If I’m working from home and not feeling totally motivated, I begin noticing everything that needs to be done around the house.  I start redecorating our entire place in my head and googling furniture pieces – ahh!  Work at a coffee shop once or twice a week, even if it’s just for a few hours.  Go for a walk.  When we first got Reggie, I had convinced myself that there wasn’t enough time in my day to dedicate to walking him, but guess what?  Somehow, I made time and I can now be outside with him for a few hours of the day.  After a years of solely working from home, I discovered the magic of co-working spaces.  Paying a small fee to get into an office setting and with other people was worth every darn penny!  Sometimes you need to invest in yourself to see any return later on!  I now have a longer term setup with a shared studio/office space with 4 other people and it seriously saves me.  I’m not there 5 days a week or anything, but it’s a great productive space that’s available for me when needed.

Seek Mentorship/Brainstorm Time

Sometimes, you just have to bounce some ideas off someone!  Think about how vital meetings are for any company and what not having any sort of input from others could lead to for you.  Joining a networking group, finding a mentor in your field, or even just a business minded person to speak with can be vital.  I feel so lucky to have Alex to run ideas by, as well as Adam and many friends who will listen to me go on about crazy concepts, and provide guidance when needed.  Getting in your own head about things can be the basis of isolation, I absolutely think that being open (to a point, of course) about your business is going to help keep you on the right track.

Everyone is different, but enjoy the flexibility of that home work life while giving yourself some structure. Taking an actual lunch break away from the computer and stepping away at the end of the day are essential for your health.  No matter what, you are going to do great things from your home office, I just know it!  Hope you found this helpful and if there’s anything I missed from this list, let me know!

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  • vera March 15, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    This is such a great, thank you for sharing!

    Blonde in Cashmere

    • Alicia March 22, 2017 at 11:30 am

      So glad you enjoyed it xo

  • Erin March 15, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    It’s amazing how much I relied on working in cafes to give me some people time… free public wifi is not a common thing in Germany, so this isn’t possible anymore and I really miss it!

    I had a freelancer friend that swore by putting on his shoes before getting to work. No shoes = leisure time. I thought this was hilarious, because I used to slip off my shoes under my desk at work all the time! Ha. I really agree with your point about getting dressed properly, it makes such a difference.

    • Alicia March 22, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Isn’t it crazy? Sometimes even just the interaction with the barista is refreshing lol. Shoes! That’s so funny, what an interesting experiment. I think it’s really cool to see you guys in Germany, even though I’m sure it’s tough at times. Shaking up location and familiarity is huge, proud of you guys for going for it! Hope you’re enjoying it xo

  • Jill Lansky March 16, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Working from home can be so hard! These are great tips… I miss you guys!

    Big love from TO


    • Alicia March 22, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Miss you too! I want to visit you in TO soon xoxo