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How to combat isolation when working from home

About veenadigitalstreet

Hello! I am Veena, a  digital marketer, settled in Melbourne, Australia. 'Global nomad' that's how I describe me. I work with small businesses, ad agencies and mumreprenuers. After having lived in 3 culturally different countries: India, Dubai and now Australia, I really believe life is an exploration. Keep exploring. A mum to an energetic 9 year old, I swear by Melbourne coffee and treks. A WAHM's life is exciting on a daily basis. Join my FB page to get latest updates on my exciting biz and personal life. https://www..com/Veenasdigitalstreet/

The struggles of solitude when working from home are real. Here's five handy tips from an expert.

To most, the freelance lifestyle may seem so alluring. No morning traffic, being your own boss, working in your pyjamas or without pants, deciding your own schedule, and not tightly bound by a 9-5 time frame.

The isolating laptop life.

The isolating laptop life

As a work-at-home mum (WAHM), my friends who are still trapped in their 9-5 lives often tell me how envious they are of my laptop lifestyle. Agreed, my remote work has tremendous benefits - the biggest being the freedom it comes with. However, there’s also a huge drawback: the loneliness and isolation of working alone.

When I started working from home five years ago, I was excited, I could schedule my work hours around my family and had no boss to answer to. After one year or so, the loneliness started hitting me. I was missing the camaraderie of my ex-colleagues, the joy of dressing up. I was in my pyjamas all day, except occasionally when I had to step out for a meeting. In my attempt to build my freelance business, I was spending more time on my work desk and Facebook groups.

My only adult interaction was limited to my son’s caretaker in kindy, or the occasional mums I would bump into during pick-up. Though my business was growing, I was feeling lonelier and isolated. I felt cut off from the outside world - as if I was leading a hermit’s life.

The only difference was that as a digital marketer, I was in a virtual jungle. I remember telling this to a friend and she thought I was a little crazy. ‘You don’t know what I’d do to be in your shoes?’ she said.  Was I being ungrateful? Was I really going crazy? Why am I feeling envious when she tells me about another office meet-up after work on a Friday night? Such conflicting thoughts crossed my mind. For a while I was even embarrassed to talk about my solitude and isolation to others.

In my heart of hearts, I knew there was a problem. I was doing well as far as my freelance business was concerned, but somewhere I was not enjoying this success. I needed to get out of this feeling of just communicating with people in Facebook groups (whom I hadn’t met) or exchanging emails with my clients.

I knew I had to act before this became a big issue. I was left with a nagging question: was it only me, or did others who worked on their own also feel the same?

Thus, began my journey of connecting with others in the same ship.

Here are my tips for combatting isolation as a solopreneur, WAHM or freelancer:

  • Get some group exercise: This is the first thing I did, joined a local group yoga class. In my laptop life, working around my family’s schedule, I would not step out to exercise. It was all so convenient and comfortable to stay cooped up indoors, especially during the cold winter months. I joined a yoga class twice in a week, and started meeting other adults. Consciously, I moved out of my sedentary lifestyle and this helped me not in just in my physical, but also mental, fitness
  • Work outside home: Working from your couch or desk and looking at the same stuff around you can get really boring after a while. So working from the local café or library is not such a bad idea. I personally find working from a café distracting and prefer to work in the library. This also gives me the option to browse books when I want to take a break.
  • Join your local freelancers' meet-up group: Not only does this help in networking with others, but these people share your mind set. Other freelancers understand what it is to work by yourself and support you. The bonus is that you make some valuable s. As you build new relationships, it makes you feel so much better
  • Stick to a schedule: This one is big. The flexibility of working around your time can be the biggest obstacle, too. While trying to grow your business or meet deadlines, you may end up working more than 18 hours a day. This eventually leads to burn-out and a lot of frustration. As someone with erratic work hours, it has been tough for me to stick to a schedule most days. But on the days I do, I am most productive.
  • Reach out to old colleagues and friends:  While pursuing my new role as a WAHM, I completely cut myself off from most of my friends and ex-colleagues. I reached out to them again. We formed a group, wherein we catch up once a month for drinks. It helps me connect with the real world.
  • The struggles of working alone are real. Best is to accept them and find a way out.

    But now, it’s time to take a shower and step out for a coffee. So, how do you fight your battle when working in isolation?

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