Breaking up the boredom of working from home

I work from home because it is what works best for me and my family at the moment. I’m not a natural loner. I like to be with people, I like to learn from other people and I am massively motivated by those around me. Even if sometimes, it’s just the knowledge that someone is watching me (so maybe now isn’t the time to get sucked into the ‘dark playground’* of social media).

When I first started working at home, I was hopeless. I’d be hugely distracted by everything around me. I’d put a wash on. Then another. Then I’d clean out the guinea pigs or do the washing up. Then I’d panic at about 2.30pm when I had half an hour to finish all my work before picking up the kids. I’d end up working late into the night to get my work completed and wake up groggy and irritated with myself.

Over time, I have got much better at working from home. I am more self-motivated. I have put certain boundaries in place so that I don’t get distracted:

  • I have a ‘no housework’ rule during my working hours at home. And actually at quite a lot of other times, too.
  • I’m protective of my time – I don’t arrange ‘pop in coffees’ with friends at all during my working hours. Well, only very, very occasionally.
  • I tend to work from the kitchen table rather than my office (too many lovely books and piles of things which I should/could be reading in there. Plus, it’s a mess, and I can’t actually find my desk at the moment).
  • I have better work planning techniques, and (actually quite effective) list-making strategies which make me focus on what I need to be doing.

The one aspect that I still struggle with about working from home, though, is the lack of contact with other people. If I’m honest, one of the reasons I wanted to work is for the adult company (as well as being able to finish a cup of tea before it gets cold). I get a fair degree of that with my client work, which I absolutely love. But around 60-70% of my time is independent work – either preparing for career counselling clients and events, or working on consultancy projects.

In January this year, I set up the Thames Ditton Jelly co-working group. I discovered the initiative when I was fiddling around on Twitter one day and saw a post from Judy Heminsley, an amazing lady who has built a really interesting business around working from home (www.workfromhomewisdom.com). It sounded straightforward, and I knew the area didn’t have anything similar. I approached Dom at the Red Lion and he was keen to give it a go. I promoted it a bit locally and soon got a small band of local freelancers together who were also looking for that local work connection.

I think it works because it’s not a formal networking scenario. Networking groups are great for some people, but others just don’t feel comfortable with it. This is a really nice way of making some local ‘colleagues’, who you can stay in touch with during the time in between sessions, who understand what you’re doing, who aren’t trying to ‘sell’ you their business but will help you out when they can, as colleagues would. People come from different backgrounds and industries, and that’s what makes it interesting.I also think that there is a real distinction between ‘friends’ and ‘colleagues’. It’s not to say that you can’t be friends with your colleagues, but it’s different. It is a professional relationship, which makes you feel ‘professional': and that is important when you spend so much time at home in your slippers.

At the sessions themselves, although we have a chat and a coffee while we’re tapping away at our laptops, we actually get some really productive work done. It’s motivating, energising and gives a great structure to our working weeks. Collaboration comes naturally, once you have built relationships over time and got to know how other people work and how you could work together.

And when you know that you will get that ‘colleague’ time, it actually makes you enjoy the benefits of working by yourself sometimes, too.

So, if you work from home locally to Thames Ditton, come along and see whether co-working would work from you. No cost, no commitment – turn up when you can make it. Newcomers are always welcome. Email me to be kept up to date with future Jelly events.

If you’re not local to Thames Ditton, but you think it could be a great idea for your own area, look at the Jelly website for details about how to set up your own group. It’s really straightforward and the benefits are huge.

 

* If you’ve not seen it already, this is a fabulous blog about procrastination  – worth a look!

 

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