Isolation When Working From Home

I just received my copy of the new book Out of Office: How to Work from Home, Telecommute, or Workshift Successfully  by Simon Salt. I purchased this book not just because it interested me but also because I’m quoted in it!

work from home book

Isolation

My quote is on page 62, in the section on “isolation” when working from home. I shared:

“The single biggest challenge for me has been that there is isolation when working alone at home. This is how I work best and tends to be what I prefer. However, it gets to a point where you are spending way too much time alone and this is not only a negative thing socially but also ends up being bad for your work because you just don’t get the creativity and stimulation that you need to be pushing yourself forward in the job.”

What To Do About It

The author goes on to write in paragraph form about ways to deal with this issue when working from home. He incorporates some of the ideas that I shared with him as well as some thoughts of his own.

Here’s what I’d shared (that isn’t in the book specifically in this way):

  • Get involved in collaborative projects. I seek out short-term projects that I can do in collaboration with others. These often aren’t the most lucrative in terms of payment but they are creaively fulfilling and intellectually stimulating. These can be online or in-person projects and both seem to work equally well even though with online projects I’m still working from home.
  • Attend networking events. This is a great way to meet people from a variety of different backgrounds and be challenged to think in new ways about my work. Conferences and small business classes offer something comparable.
  • Actively engage in an out-of-home social life. This links to another problem I’ve had which is that I tend to be something of a workaholic who doesn’t take enough downtime since work is always there at home to be done. Making sure that I’m social out of the house gives me downtime and ends theisolation so that I can be fresh for work the next day.

My Experience

Finally, I added (also not quoted):

“I have tried co-work spaces, working at coffee shops, etc. and that never really works for me. When I am working on my own projects I really need to be at home, in my space, in my routine, doing my thing. By adding in additional projects and activities I’m able to meet my own social/intellectual needs without sacrificing my work.”

The Book

Salt’s book is a practical guide for working from home. It’s especially for people who haven’t done this before or who are fairly new to it as it provides a pretty step-by-step description of the ups and downs. I haven’t read through it all yet, just flipped through it, but it looks like there are also a few gems that us longtime stay-at-home-workers can also enjoy. I appreciate that he took the time to consult a lot of us about our own real life experiences and I think that this is especially adds to the book.

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Taking My Own Good Advice

I’ve been writing a whole lot lately about how hard it is to work from home. I’ve been thinking about productivity and how to make it better in the home office. I’ve been wondering if multi-tasking helps or hinders these goals. And I’ve been putting together tips for increasing home office productivity. All of these things are based on my own experiences working from home for so many years.

But the truth is that I don’t always do what I recommend that others should do. And yes, my productivity probably falters because of it. Some of the things that I do wrong when it comes to working from home:

  • I turn on the TV at lunchtime. It’s supposed to be a quick distraction but usually I get sucked in and leave it on for several hours in the background while I try to do my work which tends to mean that I’m only half paying attention to what I need to be working on.
  • I check my social networking sites and IM throughout the day. This means that I’m regularly getting distracted by non-work conversations during my work hours.
  • I often work from bed. I don’t have a good work space in my house and I frequently spend hours working from my bed even though I don’t think this is healthy for the mind or body.

However, there’s a lot I do right which is why I can make things work as a full-time freelancers. Things I’ve gotten down include:

  • Scheduling. I’ve learned to create a schedule that works for me and I’ve learned how to adapt that schedule as needed when other things come up.
  • Setting boundaries. When I don’t want to be bothered during working hours I have no problem letting people know that.
  • Getting up and dressed. Even though I work from bed a lot, I always get up first and shower and put on clothes that are nice and make the bed before getting back into it.

Learning to work well from home takes time. I’m getting there.

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Tips for Home Office Design

I am someone who works from home but I don’t exactly have a home office. Instead, I have little office spaces within each of my rooms. I have a desk in my bedroom and a laptop on my bed most of the day. I have a second desk with a PC on it in the living room. And I have an art space in the spare bedroom where I work on more creative projects.

Despite the fact that this scattered approach to home office design is something that works for me, I do think that there are some major benefits to creating your own single home office space. The major benefit of that is that you have one specific place in the house where you work which seems to make it easier to separate work life in home life.

In my opinion, there are three things you need for great home office design. First, you need to make sure that the area that you choose for your home office is well lit, preferably with natural sunlight. Second, you need to make sure that you create storage space and can keep the place free of clutter. And third, you need some furniture or art that makes it personal and comfortable for enjoying your work.

Despite the fact that my home office is littered around different parts of my home, I do have all three of these areas covered. My desks and my art space both get sunlight. I’m unusually good about picking up the clutter in my home so I feel organized while I work. And every room has art and fresh flowers and other creature comforts. So I’ve found a design that works for me. Have you?

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