Don’t get me wrong: all in all, working from home can be a pretty sweet gig.
You get to make your own hours, never get out of your yoga pants, and sleep in if that’s your thing (maybe even while your partner and your kids go to work and school).
However, let’s make no bones about it: there’s a dark side to all this.
Entrepreneurial isolation and loneliness are a big deal that not enough of us are talking about — which is exactly why I want to talk about it right now.
Yes, there are a lot of perks to working from home – and for those, I’m very grateful. At the same time, spending so much time solo can also lead to debilitating anxiety, the walls closing in on you, massive procrastination, self-doubt, bad hair and more.
And between the two of us? I’m not sure it’s entirely healthy to live in isolation like that. Whether we’re introverts or extroverts, humans are social creatures. I say this as an introvert, and as someone who had to spend years basically laying down in bed, so I’ve spent more time in complete isolation than the average bear.
I’ve experienced the dark places too much time by yourself can lead to, and it’s not pretty, healthy, in service to your highest potential or productive. If you’ve ever realised you’ve been in your pyjamas for three days in a row, it’s important to take action STAT and guard yourself against the consequences of entrepreneurial isolation.
These days there’s a bunch of things I do to starve off going crazy working from home. What are those things? I’m glad you asked. Let me walk you through ‘em right now:
7 Ways To Avoid Going Crazy While Working From Home:
Tip #1: Get an accountability buddy, and bookend either your week or your days with them
By “bookend” I mean have a check in with this person LIVE (with a quick call or text message, for example) at the beginning of the week, to set targets, brainstorm, review what’s been completed, and more and more. Then, you check in together again at the end of the week, and you share honestly how you’ve been going.
When you know that someone is waiting to hear from you, it can make a world of difference — not to mention lighting a massive fire under your arse to actually get stuff done.
Setting up this special ‘accountability buddy’ relationship with someone is something I’ve done a number of times in the past. Any time I’ve had those daily check-ins with accountability buddies, my days feel much more fun and productive, and I’ll suddenly feel less alone, as well. I really recommend it!
If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “Yes, that’s a stellar idea, but how do I find an accountability buddy?”
Easy: Reach out to someone who seems cool in one of the online communities that you are in. For example, one of my most favourite accountability buddies, Rikke (hey lady, if you’re reading this, I’m thinking of you!), came about because we were in an online program together and she reached out to me.
Give it a go – accountability buddies can change the whole game.
Tip #2: Attend in-person events as much as possible (yep, even if you’re an introvert!)
Look, I’d definitely classify myself as an introvert. I LOVE/NEED time alone to recharge BUT I’ve learnt that too much alone time doesn’t serve my wellbeing or fuel my happiness.
That’s why attending in-person events is important when it comes to keeping the crazy at bay. Having a reason to get dressed up, and connecting with like-minded people live in the flesh, can be a huge motivator, mood lifter, and surprisingly game-changing.
If you’re like me, many of your (very supportive!) friends from school and family don’t understand the work you do. When you have a chance to connect with people that do GET IT at a live event, it can be such a relief. Even if you’re nervous/scared shitless, go for it! I promise the effort to put a bra on and leave the house will be worth it!
Tip #3: Get dressed
This is something I’ll talk more about in another post soon, but I think it’s really important to have some markers in your day about when you’re starting work and when you’re stopping work, particularly when you work and live in the same place.
An important one of those markers for me is… getting dressed.
I know it can be tempting to stay in your PJ’s – especially when your to-do list is a mile long and you don’t have plans to see anyone that day. However, taking the time to have a shower, actually putting on some clothes that you feel great in, putting some makeup on (if that’s your thing – it is for me), and brushing your hair before you switch on your MacBook can really change the energy of your whole day.
When I make the effort to get dressed before work, I’m more focused, happier and feel more like the got-it-together boss lady I want to be.
Tip #4: Exercise out of the house every day
Don’t worry: I don’t necessarily mean run a marathon (unless of course, that’s your thing) (btw, if it IS your thing, I’m super impressed!).
No matter how much work you’ve got on, please don’t fall into the trap of sitting on your arse all day long. Head to the gym – even for just 30 minutes. Or go to a yoga class. Or a hip-hop class or a barre class. Go for a hike. Go for a swim in the ocean. Whatever you do, schedule time for exercise into your calendar as a priority, be disciplined about it and make it happen every day.
Believe me: I understand what a massive pain in the butt the idea of making time for exercise erry bloody day can seem out the outset. But seriously, gift yourself daily exercise for just seven days, and you’ll feel a huge shift. For me, exercising puts the challenges I’m facing, and problems I’m chewing over, completely into perspective. My most creative and elegant ideas or solutions will often present themselves while I’m away from the computer exercising.
Tip #5: Mix up where you work
Look this may seem obvious but, if you’re lucky enough to have an office at home (like me!) that doesn’t mean you should force yourself to just always work from that space.
Working alone doesn’t mean you always need to work in isolation. I love heading to my local library or my local café for a couple of hours work most days. Other cool ideas: try a coworking space, or set up a little working date with your business bestie and create your own version of a co-working space at a local café. If you have a location independent business, take advantage it.
Working from home doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you literally have to work from home every single day. So mix up it up!
Tip #6: Brainstorm with a coach or with your mastermind buddies
This is particularly important if you feel like you’ve lost your spark, or you’ve stagnated or stuck. Brainstorming with a business bestie, or with your mastermind crew, or your coach, or someone else you can trust in the industry is my #1 way to keep progressing, reconnect with your creative spark, and stay sane.
Your partner, or your family, or your roommate, aren’t necessarily your best sounding board. It’s unlikely they are going to understand the ins and outs of your job, or the pressures of your day, or even the vision you have for your business. For example, my forever guy Rod is fabulous and all… but he’s not my ideal client, my coach, my accountant or my business partner — so there’s no point in me expecting him to have the answers I need.
If you are looking for inspiration and work from home, reach out to your coach, your mastermind crew, or your business besties rather than trying to figure it out alone, firing questions at your family and partner, or procrastinating by watching YouTube videos.
Tip #7: Stop working 12-hour days
Is there a lot to do when you’re running a business? Absolutely. I bet your to-do list is, like mine, out the wazoo, and you always have plenty you could be cracking on with 24/7.
I feel you, but research indicates that after a certain amount of time, we’re just not going to be any more productive (some experts estimate we only have about 5 hours of actual productivity per day). Interestingly enough, researchers argue that our productivity reduces exponentially the longer we work.
You’re a creative, after all! Boundaries around your work days are a must if you want to be at the top of your game.
If you want to really support other people, you need to make sure that you are fueling yourself. Having a full life outside of work – whatever that means to you – is key to nourishing your creativity, ability to nurture others, and feeling well and happy.
If you fill your entire life with work – especially when you work from home, you will go nuts. I would know, I’ve tried it, and I can guarantee the outcome is not good.
One more BONUS Tip #8: Invite a new friend to lunch
I know it might feel like a stretch, but doing this regularly is a powerful elixir against the gone-crazy-working-from-home vibes.
Met someone who seems cool and works from home in the same city as you? I challenge you to get in touch and invite them out to lunch. Worst case they say no, or you spend an awkward hour smiling and nodding and never have to see them again. Best case you meet your new best friend. If you like each other, why not get together and have lunch every month?
You don’t need to spend time with people you don’t like, but having lunch with someone is a fairly small time commitment in terms of meeting someone who could potentially become your best friend.
Imagine: You guys could grow your businesses together and have the best time ever for the next few years, and it could all start because you’re brave enough to send someone an email inviting them out to lunch. Why not take a deep breath and do it today?
Now, I’m putting the spotlight on YOU lady!
If you’re new to this whole “working from home” thing, how has it been for you so far? Has anything surprised you, or have you got any tricks up your sleeve for beating back working from home cabin fever?
And if you’re a veteran to the no-office life… what are some of your favourite strategies for handling going a little kooky when you work from home?
Share your nuggets of wisdom in the comments below – I can’t wait to read them!