Work From Home Survival Guide
Mar 06, 2019
It was a random Tuesday morning around 10am. I had taken a personal day from my teaching job and was out running errands. Between stops I decided to run into my favorite coffee shop and grab a quick drink.
As I stood in line I looked around the room at the people sitting at the tables. There was a table of older gentlemen dressed in polo shirts and khakis that were probably headed to the golf course after their coffee stop. There was a college student with headphone and a laptop most likely finishing up an assignment (and browsing social media). And then, there were the women....
One was sitting in an oversized chair with her laptop out and notebooks on the table beside her. There was the table of 3 women chatting. They were dressed in yoga pants and cute tops that probably hadn't seen a gym that day. And then there were two women sitting in the corner deep in conversation.
All of these women were about my age, and as I stood there all I could think about was how BADLY I wanted that to be my daily life. I wanted to spend my days working quietly in a coffeeshop corner or having lunch with my friends as we chatted about kids, life and business. I had this picture perfect vision of what life would be like working for myself and working from home.
Fast forward a year and here I sit "living the dream" as a work from home business owner. And let me just say....it's pretty far from what I envisioned. As I type this I am sitting on my couch, in sweat pants and an oversized sweatshirt. My hair sees more dry shampoo than actual shampoo most weeks and my face hasn't felt the brush of make-up in a while.
I'm not going to lie....I don't hate it, and will take it over my 9-5 job any day! But it definitely isn't the self-employed life I imagined.
Most days I work around my daughter's nap schedule, send emails while sitting in the school pick up line and have maxed out my grandparent babysitting quota each month. There are definite perks to working from home (freedom to get up when you want, flexible work schedules, work in yoga pants and...oh yeah, do what I love!).
However, there are weeks when I look up and realize I haven't spoken to another adult (aside from my husband) in days, and I find myself wondering when was the last time I put on real clothes. So I started wondering what the secret was to working from home without going crazy and I started changing some of my daily & weekly routines.
I figured if I was starting to feel trapped in the loneliness of working from home, some of you might be feeling the same way too. So I have come up with a list of some of the ways I have found to break the monotony and solitude of working from home.
- Find a network-There are tons of online networking groups that offer a fun and easy way to meet other business owners and entrepreneurs like yourself. Some of them are online only, while others offer monthly or weekly meetings. I joined the Rising Tide Society a while back and have attended several of their Tuesday Together meetings. Getting out and meeting new people isn't always easy - especially when it required actually putting on real pants - but it can be a game changer for your business. Not only does it help you network and cross market your services, but it allows you to get out of your comfort zone.
- Go for walks -This one might seem overly simple, but let me tell you....it works. When the weather is nice I try and go for a walk at least once a day -outside (not on a treadmill). It's kind of a win-win for me because my daughter loves her stroller and being outside. She gets to be outdoors and is happy & I get to take a mental break from the day. Some days I put on music or a podcast and somedays I just enjoy the silence. They aren't always long walks. Somedays it's only 10-15min and other days we walk for 30-45min. This spring I plan to find a few nature trails or parks explore. There is something really calming about being outdoors and in nature that help me re-focus and re-energize.
- Join a Gym -One of the things I envisioned for my work-from-home life was daily trips to the gym...and I started off strong. I had a routine of getting up, going to the gym for an hour, then getting to work. But after a few weeks I found myself skipping the gym and using that extra hour to get more things done. So the gym membership started collecting dust. I noticed an almost immediate change in how I felt each day and my mood changed. One of my goals for this year is to re-commit to going to the gym a few times each week. Some people enjoy taking fitness classes (pilates, yoga, crossfit) which are great for getting more personal interaction and meeting new people, while others prefer the solitude of putting in some headphone and sweating it out. No matter your preference I suggest you find something that works for you!
- Find a Co-working space -One of the things I missed most when I left my teaching job was the daily interaction with co-workers. I loved that at anytime of day I could walk down the hall and chat with my friends. Working from home can feel pretty lonely at times. Even with social media and all the ways we can "connect" online, there are times you just need some social interaction in the real world.If you are like me and your dog is tired of hearing about your latest business idea, or the UPS guy leaves your packages and runs off before you can stop him to chat....then maybe it's time to look into a co-working space. Most cities offer work spaces you can rent on a monthly basis that allows you to get out of your house and work among other professionals. Some places also offer conference rooms, mailboxes and meeting space so you can have a professional setting to meet with clients or have team meetings. If there isn't a co-working space in your area, you could always find a couple professionals in your area that are also looking for a place to work, and rent a studio space together.
- Find your business bestie -A few years ago my husband came home and told me that we were going to dinner with an old friend of his that had moved back to town. I wan't exactly excited about going since it meant dealing with a cranky toddler and small talk with his wife who was "also into photography". What I didn't realize at the time was that I was meeting my new business bestie. Over the next few years we would spend countless hours sharing our hopes, dreams, failures and successes together. Having someone who is in the same boat as you can really push you to keep going when you don't want to, or help you get excited about the good things in your business.
- Disconnect-This is one of my favorite things to do! I spend most of my days on social media, writing blog posts on my laptop or editing photos in the office. So when it all starts to feel like too much I disconnect. I put the technology away and just relax. When you work from home it's hard to separate your business from your home life. You don't have an official ned to your work day so it's easy to let your work take over all hours of your life. Being intentional about shutting down and taking a break can keep you from burning out and becoming obsessive about your business and forgetting about the other aspects of your life!
Even though working from home isn't always easy, I would bet that most of us would choose it over a 9-5 job any day. If you start feeling lost or lonely head over the Girl Means Business Facebook group and join us in a virtual community that are all in the same boat. We lift each other up and encourage each other in the crazy entrepreneurial journey.