Working from Home: Isolation and Motivation
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Working from Home: Isolation and Motivation

It can be pretty lonely out there when you’re setting up by yourself, particularly if you’re working from home – but there’s no need to feel isolated. Don’t let it get you down or harm your motivation. In this article we see how you can make the most of the freedom but be disciplined as well.

You may think that it will be quite difficult to get started and work by yourself, especially if you are working from home initially. You need to be disciplined and organised, and ‘go to work’ to a room or an area just as you would ‘normally’. Don’t be distracted by other things especially in the early days. Later on you will develop work routines that fit your lifestyle that perhaps aren’t quite the norm, but work for you. If you’ve been used to working in a busy office you may miss the social contact with others and even on the journey to work, but you will get used to it. If necessary create your own ‘office’ environment by occasionally ‘chatting’ to people by email or text, so you don’t feel too isolated. Link up with others doing the same. Go to networking functions for the social aspects too, and to keep up your people skills.

Developing the Discipline of Working by Yourself

  • Get up and dress for work; establish routines
  • Have a separate area or room if you work from home.
  • Have a separate phone line with an answer machine for business if you work from home; you won’t have the kids answering the phone and sounding very unprofessional or the danger of missed messages.
  • Consider having mail sent to a separate address, not your home. You may not want to publicise your home phone number and address. Consider a PO Box. There are alternative ways of dealing with this; perhaps a virtual office is the answer.
  • Don’t get distracted by other jobs that need doing, people calling or dropping by. You may be at home but you are at WORK! People and that includes your partner and kids may not see the difference and just feel that you can drop everything to fetch them from school, do the shopping, or do the housework. YOU are working! You need to show the discipline before they will!
  • Do break from your work and take time off to have a cup of coffee or lunch even if there’s no one there to share it, just as you would in an office. Don’t just have it on your desk. Take a walk.

You will be motivated because if you don’t deliver or do something then there is no business or work. You have to generate it. You won’t get any money and you can’t invoice if you don’t finish that job yourself! Well meaning salaried friends may say ’I don’t know how you can work from home, I couldn’t, there’s too many other things to do’. YOU will as there’s no one else to rely on.

Keeping Motivated

Everyone will have their own particular problems in keeping motivated and their own ways of dealing with them.

Some good approaches include:

  • Be disciplined about separating work and home and social activities; everything tends to merge with friends becoming suppliers and customers and vice versa. Be careful with some of these relationships.
  • Plan: every day, every week, every month.
  • Have a small ‘to do’ list for everyday.
  • Don’t set unrealistic targets; achieve small things that then build up into more major ones.
  • Don’t try and change the world, and more importantly people (including you!) in a day!!
  • If you can’t quite get started on difficult tasks, do something that’s easier to get yourself going. Listen to your body clock; it’s pointless trying to do something challenging when you’re at your lowest ebb, leave it until you feel mentally and physically alert. You will simply get de-motivated by trying.
  • Be organised and meticulous.
  • Build up networks of like-minded folk.

Your problem is more likely to be stopping work, and not just ‘popping into your office and checking the latest emails’, or getting up in the middle of the night to do something that you are worrying about. You will become a real pain to live with; you need to separate work from your home life. And if you are going to separate premises, you’re almost certain to have a computer at home, so the same comments still apply. Put your business phone line on answer machine when you’re not working and similarly, put your personal phone line on answer machine when you are working!

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