"No man is an island" - John Donne's famous poem reminds us that human connection is essential to our survival. It certainly doesn't always feel that way when you work in an office and have to deal with the politics, the thinly-veiled put-downs, and the feeling that people are talking about you behind your back. In those times, it can feel like other people are bad for your mental health, and remote working would be far more pleasant.
The biggest challenge remote workers face is that it can be an isolating experience, and it can be hard to stay motivated when there are no other people around you. You can do whatever you want whenever you want without anyone asking if you plan on getting any work done today. These obstacles can be overcome if you have a plan. Let's see what you can do to not become part of the loneliness epidemic and increase productivity.
Tips to avoid loneliness when working from home
1. Work outside the house occasionally
There are lots of places with wi-fi, so why not plan a day working outside the home now and again? If you head to your local library, you will find other people doing the same. Working remotely doesn't have to mean shutting yourself away. In fact, you could bounce from location to location throughout the week if you wouldn't find it too much of a distraction.
When you spend time around other people, it will make you feel less alone, or it might remind you why you prefer to work at home in the first place! Either way, it will take away your feelings of loneliness.
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2. Set yourself goals
Loneliness tends to kick in during remote work when you stop to think for too long. You need to keep busy and make the best use of your personal hours. This way, the working day will go by quickly, and there will be little room for reflection on your solitude. A good work-life balance is crucial, and in order to do this, you need to stay focused while at work, so you feel you've earned time doing what you enjoy.
It is good for your emotional health to feel like you have accomplished something. It doesn't even have to be something massive; just make sure you are making progress. Fighting feelings of loneliness is not about waiting until they arrive. It's about being proactive and trying to keep those feelings at bay. Working towards goals is one of the best ways to do this.
3. Go outside during your lunch break
Freelancers need time to eat as well, but this could be a chance to have a change of scenery and some fresh air. Being enclosed by the same four walls all the time increases feelings of loneliness. By going outside for a walk or just sitting outside to eat, you can feel connected to other people just by reminding yourself that they are there!
Sometimes it might be lousy weather, or maybe you're just exhausted. You might not always feel like going outside, but a bit of indoor exercise is always a possibility. You don't have to do a 30-minute HIIT workout—anything at all will help you feel motivated.
4. Make plans after work
Sometimes just knowing you will meet up with friends or family members later on will help you get through the working day without feeling lonely. If you don't feel like going out, why not organize a meet-up via Zoom so remote attendees can talk without leaving their homes? When you work remotely, there are ways like these to make socializing more straightforward without significant effort.
Feeling part of a bigger community will reduce feelings of isolation. You may enjoy your own company, but too much of it will make anyone start to feel lonely. Even occasional phone calls to friends or relatives count as social interaction.
5. Consider joining an online community
Work-from-home loneliness can be minimized by joining online communities—whether they be for casual chat or industry-related discussions. Not only can you make new friends who can relate to the freelancing lifestyle, but you can also grow your network, leading to more clients and/or collaborators for future projects. It’s a win-win.
Any remote worker is just as prone to loneliness as the next, so why not be the one who bridges the gap? Remote workers feel less lonely when they are reminded that they are not alone, even if they work in isolation.
You can find industry-related communities on places like Reddit and Facebook, where you can join in on active discussions or even start your own threads. And if you feel comfortable enough, you can even start a video or audio call to share ideas with the friends you make by joining these communities.
5 Tips on how to stay motivated when working remotely
1. Create a working environment in your home
Set aside a room in your home where you will go to work. Keep it separate from where you eat, sleep, and relax. This way, you will be able to switch on more easily when it's time for work on a day-to-day basis. Freelancers need reminding sometimes that they're still at work, and the best way is to create a working environment. Keep everything work-related in this one space.
It can bring you joy if your workspace is set up with plants, artwork on the walls, or even personalized mouse pads and coasters that represent one of your interests. If you can relax in your working environment (while still feeling like it's a workspace), then you will produce your best output. Make your office a safe space that feels comforting to you yet a place where you can stay focused.
2. Dress for work
Other freelancers may tell you that one of the joys of working from home is not having to change out of your pajamas and staying in bed. This isn't always conducive to the right mindset. When ready to start your working day, get dressed and smarten up your appearance as if you're heading out to work, then enjoy the fact that you can get on with your tasks without having to leave home.
3. Organize your day
We've all been there; as freelancers sit in front of computer screens, the temptation is often to have a quick look on social media. The difficulty with this is three hours later when you're still engaged in a lively Facebook debate, and your work remains 0% complete. This is why you need a plan for the day. Set aside time to scroll Facebook or whatever you do to switch off, but set a timeframe so you can still ensure your work gets done.
4. Give yourself breaks
Nobody can give the same level of attention and focus to a task after 4 hours that they could after 4 minutes. Not unless you take occasional breaks to refresh your mind and stretch your legs. You can have a fairly flexible schedule and take some time out when you can feel your concentration waning, or you can plan breaks throughout the day. Either way, it is essential to spend some time away from your desk so you can come back to a task with renewed enthusiasm.
5. Reward yourself
A great way to maintain focus and motivate yourself to finish a task is with an incentive. Maybe you can have a slice of cake and a cup of coffee when you complete a task. Maybe you can finish for the day if you get an important task done. Whatever will motivate you to get your work done, set yourself rewards.
Just a simple act of self-care can be a great motivator. Taking breaks and giving yourself rewards will make burnout less likely, and you will find your productivity has increased dramatically. We all laugh at dogs behaving a certain way because they know they will get a treat, but it just highlights what a motivating factor can do. How much more likely are you to give your all to a task if you know there will be a reward?
So remember, if you want to overcome freelancer loneliness, you need to be proactive. Video conferencing software can help you socialize even when you don't feel like leaving home, but getting out of the house helps from time to time too. You need to stay connected even though you have chosen the freelancing life. There is nothing worse than feeling isolated.
Here are a few tips to remember:
- Put plans in place to make the working day pass quicker, but make sure you will end the working day feeling accomplished so you can enjoy your leisure time.
- Create a working environment that will help you stay focused and prepare as if you are going out to work (but without the stress of a daily commute to follow).
- Set yourself rewards for completing tasks and make plans for after work so you can keep your mind occupied afterward.
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