I wasn’t always a professional blogger or freelance writer. There was a time that I knew practically nothing of Internet marketing and making money online, but I like to tell people that I fell into this space and this career “accidentally on purpose” way back in 2006. I met John Chow for the first time not long after getting started and we’ve been friends ever since. You might even remember that time I crashed at his guest house in Bellevue, Washington.
That experience, along with so many others like it, really illustrate how I was drawn into the “freelance lifestyle” (or the “dot com lifestyle,” as John likes to say) in the first place. I am in a position where I can largely set my own hours, choose my own projects, and determine my own fate, all while working from almost anywhere I have a reasonably reliable Internet connection and a laptop in tow. The time and location freedom are truly invaluable. They’re literally life changing.
While I can choose to work from almost anywhere, it probably won’t surprise very many of you to learn that I work from home the overwhelming majority of the time. I imagine the same is also largely true for John too when he’s not partying in Costa Rica and other exotic locations around the world. Working from home has its perks, but it naturally also has its pitfalls… like how you can go stark raving mad with the deafening silence and overwhelming isolation.
We don’t want to turn into Jack Nicholson’s iconic character from The Shining, do we? He does have a very valid point though, even though the movie is almost 40 years old at this point. All work and no play do make Jack a dull boy. And it’s not even about being dull… even if you never go on any sort of murderous rampage after getting a drink at an empty hotel bar from a bartender who is nothing more than a figment of your imagination. But I digress.
Yes, you can set your own hours. Yes, you are free of distractions of coworkers who just “stop by” for a meaningless chat (but you can still definitely distract yourself and procrastinate like there’s no tomorrow). But it can be a very isolating experience and that’s not good for your mental well being.
So, what are some of the steps you can take to overcome this situation and help to retain some semblance of sanity along the way? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Get as much sun as you can. This will depend on where you live and the kind of climate you get, but getting outside for some sun and fresh air can work wonders on your mental wellness. Even positioning your computer next to a window so you can look outside can be very helpful.
- Have a hobby unrelated to work. Sometimes, you just need a mental break. The actual hobby itself doesn’t really matter as much as the fact that it gets you away from work and away from the computer. Your ideas will continue to simmer on the back burners while you hack at wood in your workshop or prune the flowers in the garden.
- Go social. While online interactions with Facebook groups and the like have their merit, there is no replacement for face-to-face time. That’s why Dot Com Pho is so important to me (and it’s where I met John). It’s the same with the Dot Com Meetup in the OC. Find your tribe. Talk to them in person.
- Allow fitness to be a priority. It’s really easy to hole yourself up and hunker down on an important project, because you want to make sure it’s a success and you’re really passionate about that new ebook or YouTube channel or affiliate network. I get it. I’m there all the time. But you need to convince yourself to get out there and move your body. The gym isn’t necessarily for everyone, but you do need to get into physical shape.
- Schedule your breaks. Like the previous tip, I perfectly understand what it’s like to get into a groove, but that’s also how you can work yourself into oblivion and burn yourself out. I like using the Pomodoro technique to give my mind a rest and I’ve been working on establishing a better end of day routine too.
These are just a few ideas to help you get started. What activities or tips do you have for other people who work primarily from home?