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When you are freelancing or starting a small business and looking to keep costs down, working from home is the obvious solution. Research and plenty of anecdotes from successful home workers show that productivity can increase dramatically away from the distractions and interruptions of the workplace.
There’s also a downside, though, and that’s the risk of becoming lonely and isolated, with its knock-on effect on self-confidence and motivation. I’ve spoken to so many home workers who have experienced the notorious mid-afternoon slump when without the company of colleagues. A dip in energy is quickly followed by a downward spiral of self-doubt. Not a nice place to be, so how is best to avoid it?
The best way is to make strong connections with other people and the outside world your top priority when planning your working from home schedule. Keep it at the forefront of everything you do, in every way you can think of:
Surfing the net can be a painless way of starting work. Contributing to forums is a good way to make contact with fellow freelancers, help them out with the benefit of your experience, and ask your own questions (and they might become valuable business contacts).
First thing in the morning, after lunch and whenever you feel your motivation slipping. Talking to a fellow human being can give you a vital shot of energy that gets you going or provide you with an inspiration that hooks you effortlessly into work.
Even if it’s only to go and buy a pint of milk. You’ll feel better in lots of ways, according to a delegate at one of my recent talks who enjoys the physical exercise, the fresh air, encounters with neighbours, and the sight of the traffic she is no longer stuck in!
Making the most of any opportunity to get out into the world beyond the four walls of your home office can do wonders for your creativity and enthusiasm. Do some window shopping after a meeting, take your laptop or notebook to a cafe, or arrange to meet a friend for lunch when you’re out on business.
The purpose of co-working is simply to work with other home workers and freelancers, not to pitch your business, so it has a uniquely relaxed and collaborative atmosphere. People inevitably talk about what they do and share advice and experience, so you’ll pick up tips as well as new contacts.
One of the biggest advantages of working from home is that, unlike your office-bound associates who have to be in the building during the working day, you have the freedom to choose where you work. And working from home doesn’t mean you always have to work at home.
Judy Heminsley is the founder of Work from Home Wisdom.