Vishal P. Rao
Operating a home-based business may let you set your own schedule, spend more time with your children, and earn more money but it does have its own set of challenges. One of those challenges can be a feeling of loneliness.
Many home-based business workers spend all their time trapped within the confines of their house. They eat in their own kitchen, type email on their own computer, and socialize with their own family once they return from the outside world. At first, this might seem like a welcome change from the stressful interactions in the average workplace, but when continued day after day, it can dramatically affect your mood and your productivity.
Luckily, you can combat those negative feelings and keep your home-based business. Here are a few suggestions:
Establish a Routine. Very often the flexibility of working at home can deteriorate into disorder and chaos, which usually leads to longer hours and less socialization. A well-established routine allows you to get your work done and have time to mingle. For example, you could set office hours from 8 am to 5 pm. Once you finish working each evening, you'll be free to unwind and interact with people for the rest of the night without the distraction of your business. Plus, you'll be forced to use those time management skills which were so essential when you working for someone else.
Take a walk with a spouse, friend, or dog. If you visit any workplace, you are bound to find people walking on their lunch breaks. They don't just do this for the calorie-burning benefits, however. It's also a good way to release stress and to enjoy the company of other people. You can do the same thing, but you may need to schedule your outings so they are convenient for your “walking buddy.” Of course, if you opt to take your favorite canine companion along, he or she will be available whenever the need to wander strikes.
Join a health club. Exercise is an excellent stress reliever, plus it fights against two other common work-at-home problems: over-indulgence in food and sedentary lifestyles. But exercising on a stationary bike or treadmill in your bedroom won't be enough to fight that feeling of isolation. A health club, on the other hand, is a perfect answer because it provides lots of exercise opportunities and a chance to meet new people. Sure, club memberships can be pricey but your health and well-being are worth it.
Get a hobby.
One of the bad things about owning a home-based business is that you probably turned your hobby into your livelihood which often takes a lot of the fun out of it, so now you need a new hobby. The best choice would be something that required you to get involved with other people, such as team sports. However, most solitary activities can also be used for socializing. For example, if you like to read, you could join a weekly book club.
Go to the movies.
Chances are those people you love who spend 8-10 hours a day in the outside world probably want to rent a DVD, microwave some popcorn, and watch a film in the comfort of their living rooms instead of venturing out into the dark, crowded, and sticky-floored world of theaters. You, however, should resist the urge. Watching a movie in public with a group of people around is the ultimate socialization experience. Even though you don't know everyone in the theater, you are connected for those two hours (or however long the movie runs). Of course, if you can take your spouse, your friends, your children, or even your parents along, you definitely should. But if they'd rather stay home and vegetate on the couch, you can always go alone.
Buy a laptop computer.
Owning a home-based business doesn't mean you are never allowed to leave your house. Of course, you don't want to miss out on valuable work, but you also don't want to a prisoner in your home office. If you buy a laptop, you can have the best of both worlds. You'll stay connected to your work and you can actually go out into the world. You can work while you sip coffee, relax at the park, or sit on your front porch. All of which will give you a much-needed chance to reconnect with the rest of the world.
Get a part-time job.
You probably started your own home-based business to escape the rat race so you might be hesitant about getting back out there. Even ten hours a week is enough to keep you sane, but should not be enough to drive you crazy. One freelance writer I know who works out of her home also teaches a five hour weekly writing course to college students in order to rejuvenate after hours of isolation. The class lets her be social, do something she enjoys, and earn a reliable stream of additional income. The effects of a part-time could be equally beneficial for you.
As you may have noticed, all of these ideas have one thing in common: they force you to leave your home. The reason is that the only way to feel like you're not isolated, is to not isolate yourself. Taking a few minutes each day to talk to your working friends on the phone, to stroll through nature, or to spend quality time with your family is all it really takes to keep your productive and happy.
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