Before I left my full-time office job to go freelance, the thought of working from home all day, every day scared me. The idea of being able to work anywhere was, of course, exciting, but I knew my bank account wouldn’t exactly respond well to me being in a coffee shop or cafe every single day. Realistically, I knew that I would soon be spending a lot of time by myself and I was worried that I would become depressed, lonely, or bored eventually because of the solitude. Ultimately, though, working for myself and from home has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I almost never feel lonely, have a healthier work/life balance, and surprisingly going to a coffee shop still feels like a treat. There are a few habits and mindsets that have made all of the difference for me, though. If you’re struggling with working from home and feeling lonely or you’re thinking about leaving your office soon, here are seven ways to feel less lonely if you work from home.
Get Over Your Phone Call Anxiety
In a perfect world, maybe we would all feel like meeting up with friends every day before or after work. Odds are, though, that probably won’t happen — even if you’re just working in your pajamas from your kitchen table. One of the best things I did when I went freelance was to get over my anxiety about calling people on the phone. Now, I talk to friends and family on the phone regularly. It’s (basically) face-to-face connection without having to reschedule six different times before finding the perfect happy hour slot that works for both your schedules. Plus, it’s perfect for long-distance friendships. Pro tip: Phone calls and long walks are a great combination and provide an excuse to get some fresh air.
Take Stock Of Your Relationships
I used to feel like I had to have a million different friends to be happy — that I had to be in certain social circles and cliques. When I started working from home, a lot of this pressure disappeared, and it forced me to actually take stock of my relationships. I thought long and hard about the friendships that were most dear to me (versus the ones that were vapid or fleeting) and I put effort into those instead of trying to make everyone like me. I now have stronger relationships than ever. Plus,I never feel stressed about how empty or full my social calendar is as long as I’m making time for those particular relationships that matter the most.
Choose One Or Two Days A Week To Work Somewhere Other Than Home
Every Friday, I treat myself to working from my favorite coffee shop instead of my desk at home. I also treat myself to working outside of the house if I have a particularly difficult or overwhelming project ahead of me. Not only does this schedule save me money, but it makes me look forward to work on Fridays, rather than counting down the seconds to the weekend. It also makes more difficult projects seem that much easier—the experience of being outside the house gives me a little boost.
Appreciate The Lack of Social Pressure
Daily social interaction and small talk may disappear when you start working from home, but you know what else disappears? The pressure to make small talk and forced daily social interaction. Whether we fully realize it or not, workplace social dynamics can be exhausting. Having to worry about whether or not your boss’ boss likes you or if you should participate in this week’s office gossip can be stressful. When you work from home, none of that exists in the same way. The pressure is gone. Acknowledging and appreciating this has helped me endlessly with loneliness. All that energy I spent trying to make my coworkers like me is now spent on the things that bring me joy.
Join Freelancing Or Work From Home Groups And Networks
There are dozens of online and IRL groups that bring together freelancers, self-employed people, and anyone who works from home on a daily basis. Connecting and commiserating with people who understand what you’re going through is helpful in any situation — and that includes when you start working from home.
Create Group Chats That You Can Access From Your Computer
Being on your phone throughout the day is distracting, no matter what your job is. Create some online group chats (WhatsApp is great for this, and iMessaging can work, too) with your closest friends that you can access throughout the day in a way that’s not going to take you completely out of whatever you’re working on at any given moment. Being able to send a meme or link to your friend group throughout the day and get their responses can sometimes be exactly the social boost you need.
Give Yourself Ample Time Off
If you’re one of the many people who work from home and for themselves, then it can be tempting to work all the time just because you can. Being in total control of your income is empowering, and it’s easy to understand why the feeling leads those who are self-employed to give themselves very few days off. However, keeping yourself to a normal schedule (whether that be 9 - 5 or 10 - 6 or 7 - 4) as possible and giving yourself intentional time off is key. If not, you run the risk of isolating yourself from your friends and family who may have more traditional work schedules.