What do you do when you are stuck in a rut, got the work at home doldrums? The blues?
In order to know what to do, we need to know where you really are and how you got there!
That old saw about “one man’s ceiling being another man’s floor” is so relevant here: one person’s work at home dream is another’s nightmare!
Here’s what I mean. Some people do really well working at home. They LOVE it. They thrive on the independence and solitude. They are energized and creative, self-motivated and are glad to be away from the office water-cooler, and all that brings to mind. They are glad to be away from one coworker’s hacking cough and another’s temper tantrums and still another’s speaker phone.
These folks might find the constant hub-bub of interactions and people and phone and layers of conversations to be distraction or worse, distressing. They find it difficult to work with so much going on. I am one of those people. I was made to work at home!
I’m an introvert. No that doesn’t mean I’m a witchy hermit who eats neighborhood children for breakfast. It doesn’t mean that I’m shy and afraid of people. I’ll get up and do a presentation in front of a crowd, no problem. I just don’t want to do it every day!
It means that I find social stimulation to be tiring. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a good party with the best of them. But then I want to go home and cocoon for a few days to recover! So for me, it’s important to manage my energy!
Employed, my saving grace was an office with a real, honest to goodness door! One that I could close (and sometimes, I did). I could not work well in the open, lofty spaces where everyone is in one big room chattering. I would not take a job like that because I know, it would not agree with me. I doubt that I could get anything accomplished and I would feel too stressed and frazzled.
That being said, I am a human and we are pack animals! Being social is just biology. I am my own boss at home so I need to provide myself with the best support. We’ll look at how introverts and extroverts can support themselves to work at home successfully but first, let’s look at what everyone working at home should be doing!
Work at Home Supports
- Get dressed (yes, we all know about working in your bathrobe …) but you will feel more alive and creative and productive, if you are dressed. Our minds are creatures of habit. We are conditioned to go to sleep in our p.j.’s or at least to relax. It’s not a good energy for productivity!
- Keep regular work hours, with a clear start and finish time.
- Maintain a work-life balance, being present for each and not sacrificing one for the other.
- Maintain family-business boundaries where work-time, office-space is off-limits and treated respectfully.
- Honor your weekends. Make sure that your time off is special. Do something!
- Read non-business books on the weekend!
There’s nothing more depressing than feeling like you live in your job and can’t get away from it. You will begin to resent it. You will have no creativity left.
If you keep regular hours, everyone knows when you are working and when you are not and YOU know when you are working! Your brain will get into a work habit and produce well for you but not if you never give it a break!
If you don’t maintain hours and boundaries, you’ll find yourself getting caught up in other non-work activities and then having to work into the evening to make up lost time. Soon it feels that you do nothing but work. Give yourself real time off just like the rest of the world.
Oddly, looking at the suggestions on what to do to make your work at home experience fun and still productive and successful are similar for introverts and extroverts. How can that be? Different focus! We want to push the introverts out and get them to socialize so that they don’t become stagnant. We want to push the extroverts (well, they don’t need pushing) we want to show them how to build that social time into their day to use to their advantage.
The Introvert Working at Home
If you are an introvert working at home, what can you do to keep your work at home experience fun and productive and you from becoming a crabby hermit? What can you do to still be part of the team at the office, to feel included and appreciated?
- Before you start working, call your office in and talk to the team. Spend a few minutes chit-chatting as you would at the coffee-maker and then get to business. If you don’t have a team, have an accountability partner with whom you can chat for 15 minutes in the morning.
- Take a walk for part of your lunch hour. Get outside, get some air, chat with a neighbor.
- Meet coworkers for lunch once per week and make an effort to stop into the office when people are around and do not give into the temptation to drop by when you know no one will be there!
- Meet with friends for lunch.
- Mid-day business networking groups and lunches.
- After-work business networking groups – the ones you used to say you could’t get off earlier enough to get to? Yeah, those. Go once a month. Get yourself out to meet some people, talk business, fill that well!
The Extrovert Working at Home
Now what about those other folks? People who are extroverted thrive on the interaction of others? My husband would be fine going out and socializing every single day. He thrives on it. He gets energized. [I get drained.] Where I do well at home, he probably wouldn’t – a day or so here or there is fine, but long term, he would do better with people.
Extroverts find it difficult if not impossible to to work at home. It’s too quiet, too isolated, there’s no one to bounce ideas off, there’s no gossip or drama about who moved or worse ate someone else’s lunch. They feel disconnected and alone. It not only makes it difficult to work and cuts down on productivity, it is also not healthy! It can even lead to depression.
Yes, unhealthy. For extroverts, spending too much time alone is as bad as smoking cigarettes or not getting any exercise!
If you are an extrovert working at home, what can you do to give your favorite employee (you) what is needed to make this a successful, fun and productive experience?
- We know you’re dressed, so start out your morning at the coffee shop. Have a little chit-chat with fellow home-workers in the same boat. You will see them there!
- Work there for a hour or so. The buzz and bustle should help you focus.
- Alternate work with phone calls. Break up your day with work and then call in and talk to the team and a different person from the team every day. Spend a few minutes chit-chatting as you would at the coffee-maker and then get to business.
- Go work at the library for a bit. It’s quiet but there are other people around.
- Take a walk for part of your lunch hour or run an errand — you remember all the things you used to be able to accomplish in a one-hour lunch?
- Meet with your team (if you don’t have one fine/create a mastermind group and meet face-to-face to brainstorm.
- Go to a business networking lunch at least once per month and meet clients or coworkers for lunch once per week. Deliberately plan business/social events into your calendar.
Working Around Your Family At Home
Of course, all the above advice was assuming that you are working at home in a quiet place, all alone. For many, that is not the case at all! For some the problem is that they are working at home, and it is noisy and boisterous and chaotic because the kids are home. Then what?
For the introvert, they are distracted from the noise and chaos and too much going on and feeling drained and not productive. The extrovert is also distracted by all the goings on and wants to join in and feels left out!
Find ways to work around the family. Get up earlier. Work at home when they are out. Go out to the coffee shop or library when they are home. Do what you can to make your work time, WORK time and productive.
Some of the time, work at home and have it quiet time for the kids so that they learn what work is all about and to respect it and your office. If you do this, make your work time productive, then you will have more time that you can spend with the kids having fun! If you stick to that and give them that time, they will cooperate with your work schedule!
Lastly, this is important for all of us working at home. Be kind to yourself!
I received an email from a business woman whom I admire. She had a bad day or two or a week maybe. She had to take herself in hand and give herself a talking to! The result was a wonderful reminder to us all.
Many of us working at home are working our own businesses. Many of us have a lot of creative work to do and we are wearing many hats. If we were going to a job and had a bad day, we would still get paid. There would be others to help and to pick up slack. But at home we are on our own.
So “if the bee stings and the dog bites” as the old song went, and we are not productive, nothing gets done and we don’t get paid! We feel that pressure. We berate ourselves for every unproductive second.
Remember, we will all have days like that. Remember, we can’t keep giving and giving, producing and producing and breathing out and breathing out without breathing in!
So you had an unproductive day. Do not give in to the temptation to punish yourself and to power through by working through the night.
And when you do have a bad day, give yourself some time and space. Be the boss you want to see! Take the time that you need and come back tomorrow fresh!
Fill the well. Be sure you are protecting your free time so that you are replenishing yourself and your poor old brain! Here are some good reads to read in short spurts as breaks throughout the day to keep yourself inspired!
I’d love to hear how your work at home experience is working for you! What have you found to beat the work at home blues?
Patt Timlin – Marketer, Blogger, Entrepreneur at Patt Timlin Online.
Patt Timlin is a marketing expert set on sharing her expertise with other online marketers to help them achieve the dream of working online. She is secretly pleased with the surge in content marketing as revenge of the English majors! Entrepreneur, blogger, guide, helper – Patt loves the online world and loves to share it!
Patt is the author of: Patt Blogs
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