Working from home was slowly killing me. I remember sitting in front of my computer, music playing softly in the background, and feeling numb.
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I was lonely, bored, and confused as to why I couldn’t couldn’t shake these feelings.
Nothing was stopping me from going to a coffee shop and working or making plans to meet up with friends after work.
But there I sat, with a million things on my to-do list, no motivation, and literally feeling like sitting there all day…doing nothing.
I wouldn’t even call it depression because when I was engaged in a project I really enjoyed or working with someone else in person I loved my job and what I was doing.
When my relationship started to suffer, I knew I had to do something to get out of this rut or I was going to have to quit my job, and when the CEO asked why I was quitting, I wouldn’t have a good answer.a
Contrary to what some lifestyle entrepreneurs will tell you, leaving your job because you are depressed is NOT a good reason to quit.
It’s more important to figure out why you are feeling this way, battle back, and then make a logical decision when you can see beyond the doom and gloom of working from home.
Deep down I wanted to get out of the rut and wanted to be productive. After 6 months of trying to dig myself out, I finally found a working solution for myself and I need to share what I have learned.
My hope is one of these tips will help you dig yourself out and make you more productive and feeling less isolated.
1. Morning’s Are My Time
I used to sleep in and justify it as a perk of working from home. If I needed to be online by 9:30 I would wake up at 9:00 am.
I had to get real with myself and realize that was part of my problem. I had no time for reflection, personal growth, or doing any of the things I wanted, I just woke up and started working.
Now, I wake up at 6:30 every morning, pour myself some coffee and read a book. I try and read a book a month.
After I read a bit I journal what I am struggling with, what I am proud of, and what I am thankful for.
I have found that this is the best time to write (for me personally) because my mind is engaged, I have just read something thought-provoking, and it feels amazing to have these accomplishments under my belt before I start work.
If I have extra time I listen to a podcast or watch some online tutorials.
I even go so far as to plan out my mornings in Google Calendar. I plan out how long it will take me to read a book, which podcast to listen to, etc.
I don’t always follow it to the letter, but getting an email every morning reminding me of my commitment to self-improvements gets me going and lets me know what I should be doing.
By 9:30 I have accomplished a ton of important personal growth tasks.
More importantly, I LOVE waking up and getting into my routine.
2. Meet Ups
I always drag my feet going to social gatherings.
Not because I don’t like them but committing to them, driving in traffic, trying to find parking, and meeting complete strangers gives me anxiety.
I always try to get out of it.
I made a promise to myself that I would go to 1 meetup a month for 6 months.
I find a meetup on meetup.com that interests me and I go. It’s really as simple as that.
Sometimes I meet really cool people (who also work from home) and other times I just enjoy being in the company of others and listening to a speaker give a talk.
Either way, it gets me out of the house, forces me to think about what others are working on, and opens up the possibility of networking with like-minded individuals.
3. Get In The Car And Drive
When things get bad and my productivity falls off completely, I have the luxury of driving to a co-worker’s house.
The thing is he is a couple towns away (about 120 miles round trip).
But we work really well together and get a lot done.
I try and drive to his place once a month (sometimes more) to have days that re-energize me and remind me what a productive day is supposed to feel like.
I realize not everyone has this ability. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for it.
Find a mentor, a person in a similar work situation and meet up once a month to work together.
You will be surprised how fast 8 hours goes by when you are jamming on all of your projects.
4. Embrace The Feeling & Write About It
This last one is really interesting to me. I would sit in the house all day thinking about how miserable I was, then someone would say something like “you seem off, is everything okay?”.
I wouldn’t even know how to explain my feelings.
To solve this issue I started writing down what I was feeling, researching what experts thought, and reflecting on how all of this made me feel.
I started to notice that my feeling of isolation was because I wasn’t creating anything. The more I create (either for my company or personal projects) the happier I was and the easier it was for me to be productive.
Writing my feelings and thoughts, especially when I was having a bad day, showed me how closely my happiness is tied to solving problems and engaging in learning new skills and technology.
Now when someone asks why I seem off, I am much more in tune with my feelings and have a better guess as to why they are picking up on that.
I generally can answer along the lines of, it’s slow at work and my productivity is suffering.
In closing, what are you doing to get over your feelings of isolation?
I pulled myself out of the rut. But I’m not out of the woods yet. I will always have those feelings of isolation and boredom while working from home.
I know what it feels like to hate working from home. You feel like a prisoner, and for no good reason.
So what are you going to do about it?
My big breakthrough came when I started to structure my mornings around me and doing things that I wanted to do and learn about things that I wanted to learn.
When you feel accomplished first thing in the morning you feel GREAT.
If you feel alone at work, embrace it.
Understand why you are having those feelings.
- Would you feel alone if you were in a public place and working?
- Would you feel alone if you had a regular meeting with a coworker during the week to look forward to?
- Would you feel alone if you joined an online group of freelancers to discuss productivity?
- Would you feel alone if you started a blog and started attracting a following of people in the same place in life as you?
If you answered yes to any of these and you aren’t currently doing them on a regular basis, that is where I would start.
Get out of the house, read more, take time to work on yourself.
You got this.