I’ve been working from a home office for over 15 years. During my corporate career I was one of those renegades who had to use an old clunky dial up modem so I could replicate my office at home. When I started my own business, I knew I would be 100 times more productive by just walking 10 steps to my in-home office. But after a while I found myself feeling the blues kick in after too much isolation.
Working from home is a double-edge sword. Yes, you can be more productive and you’ll save a ton of time by not commuting to an office. But on the flip side, most human beings are not designed for a lot of solitude. We are creatures who crave connection and human interaction. Working alone in your home can cause “isolation blues” and really mess up your mojo. Many “work at home” entrepreneurs get depressed, lose their motivation or fall into a poor mindset. Think about it. If all you have is the conversations in your head, and you are facing challenges, you can certainly talk yourself into a bleak state!
After my first two years in business, I began to notice that after I spent time with other like-minded business owners, I would have brilliant ideas and lots of new opportunities. I knew I needed a strategy to consistently stay connected even though I was working from home. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Reach out and connect with others.
I get my best inspiration when I have deep, profound conversations with others. Two days a week I’m talking with clients – but I’m still in service mode so I don’t always feel as inspired as I do when I connect with my peers. That’s where connection calls come in. At least once a week, I try to have a connection call with a peer. Often this is where collaboration ideas kick in. Sometimes it’s just an opportunity to touch base. But I always leave these conversations feeling more energized.
My strategy to keep up with this practice is I set up a reminder on my iPhone so every day I’m reminded to reach out and call at least one person.
2. Leave the house.
Because I do a lot of writing and content creation, I can go for an entire day without talking to a single person. After a few days, I’m stir crazy and I need to get out of the house to be around people. Whether its going to the grocery store, spending an hour in a coffee shop or simply going for a walk with my dog, getting out of the house gives me a boost of energy and I’m ready to get back to work.
Try to find a reason to leave your house at least once a day. It will do your mind a lot of good, if for no other reason than you’ll have to get out of your pajamas. =-)
3. In person or video calls.
Sometimes an audio connection just isn’t enough to break through the isolation haze. When it comes to working with groups or teams, isolation can unfortunately produce a disconnect that causes people to “hide out” or fall behind. Using video chat or livestream technology like Zoom.us helps people feel more connected and they are more likely to produce better results. Many of the interviews I do are now on skype or Zoom as a viewer who can see the faces of the host and their guest will feel more connected that audio alone. I also find that offering in person strategy days helps me strengthen my connection with clients. If you have a virtual team, try meeting on Skype or Zoom to deepen your connection with them.
4. Schedule play dates.
One of my favorite ways to break through isolation is to schedule time with my friends. There’s nothing like a deep, powerful conversation with a good friend to elevate my vibration and feel inspired again. Don’t wait for someone to schedule time with you though. People are busy and often don’t slow down to schedule connection time with others. Take the lead and plan to meet for cocktails or a nice dinner. Or get really bold and invite a few friends for a fun activity like wine tasting.
Whatever you do, set an intention to meet up with a friend at least once a month to stay inspired and energized.
5. Attend live events.
Something happens when I spend a few days in a retreat or event – I leave with a renewed vow to play bigger and achieve all my dreams. I’m pretty picky about which events I attend these days so I look for events where the content is designed for transformational leaders and authentic connection. When I’m in that room I set my intention to cultivate meaningful relationships and provide value to as many people as I can. Because I often speak at these types of events, its essential that I also invest in at least one or two events just for me each year.
Whether you commit to attending your local chamber mixer or fly across the nation to attend a live workshop, make a commitment to get out there and mix with others.
Since I was in my late 20’s I’ve been in masterminds. A mastermind is a unique way in which you learn with and support peers with similar aspirations. In my current mastermind with other leaders we discuss issues and situations that most people struggle with alone. By taking off the mask of “I have to have it all together” and sharing the tough challenges every leader faces, isolation is replaced with a deep sense of belonging.
If you don’t have a mastermind, consider joining a coaching group (like MoneyDNA Mastery) or hire a mentor to help create this type of support.
Now, what’s going to be your strategy to beat the blues of working in isolation? Don’t just think about it. Do it. Plan it in your calendar and follow through. You’ll find that the quality of your work improves along with your mood. Have fun my friend.