Working from home: How to Beat Isolation & Cabin Fever


Guest blog from Dynamis House

While working from home helps you significantly reduce your overhead and avoid the dreaded commute, it does raise the spectre of becoming isolated and contracting cabin fever.

To help you minimise the chances of feeling lonely or delirious, here are some useful tips, produced with the help of Judy Heminsley, who has run a successful cleaning business from home for the past 20 years and penned a guide called “Work from Home”.

1. Begin your day with phone calls

Judy recommends making contact with the outside world as soon as you start work: “You will feel part of a larger community and more motivated to achieve throughout the day,” she insists, adding: “Whenever possible, diary your calls for first thing in the morning.”

2. Leave the house at least once a day

No matter how much work you’ve got on, every day you should at the very least go for a walk. Otherwise the four walls will close in on you. There’s no such thing as having too much work to take a break; it’s a false economy, because your productivity will actually be boosted by the happy chemical – endorphins – that exercise will produce. And no one can possibly concentrate 100% for eight hours straight anyway.

“Absorbing different sights and sounds will pay dividends when you’re back at work,” adds Heminsley.

3. Capitalise on your daily contact with people

You don’t even necessarily have to leave the house to interact with other human beings (although, as aforementioned, you should leave the house anyway). “Whether it’s the postman, your neighbours or other mums at the school gates, they can become a lifeline if you’re working alone in your ‘office’,” says Heminsley. “Chatting to others can shed light on obstacles when sitting alone at your desk is getting you nowhere.”

4. Mix business and pleasure

Not part of the nine to five culture, you don’t have a boss checking on you and needn’t adhere to a rigid 12pm-1pm or 1pm-2pm lunch hour. So why not exploit your flexibility and indulge yourself with some bonus leisure time occasionally?

OK, so as a self-employed person you’re only harming your own income by substituting work for an afternoon down the pub. However, if you take two hours out of your working day to go window shopping, take a long lunch or whatever, you can simply make up the lost time by working two hours later than usual.

And because you don’t lose an hour or two to commuting, you may well be at home, ready for your evening, at about the same time as office workers who were strictly restricted to a one-hour lunch break.

You may as well time your cinema trip or coffee with a friend to coincide with that point – and it happens to us all – when you’ve hit the wall, you have a mental blank and you simply can’t concentrate anymore. Why sit frustrated and miserable at your desk achieving nothing, when you could be out enjoying yourself and achieving nothing?

5. Find a trusted colleague/mentor to confide in

Whether it’s a colleague or, if you work solo, a friend or business contact with whom you connect, it’s invaluable to have a reliable outlet to confide in. “It might be a peer, a boss or somebody you admire and respect. Choose with care and they will be worth their weight in gold,” says Heminsley.

6. Join a professional group

It’s imperative to keep abreast of developments in your sector. A great way to do this is to join a group that meets occasionally to discuss the latest news and issues and perhaps sends you a monthly newsletter.

Heminsley says you should overcome any apprehensive feelings easily enough. “If you feel shy about being the new boy or girl, remember that everyone feels the same way initially and may even be more nervous than you are!”

As well as keeping you in the loop in terms of your industry, being a part of such a group also lends another social dimension to your professional life. And, as you may have noticed, socializing, along with getting out of your home/’office’, underpin all six of the points above.

Whatever you do, if you work from home alone, the two most important things to keep cabin fever and isolation at bay are: get out and about and make sure you interact with other human beings!

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