How To Deal With The Loneliness of Working From Home

Working from home is great, but it can be lonely as hell.
Working from home is great, but it can be lonely as hell.

I asked my Twitter and Facebook people to suggest some topics for the blog. Out of all the responses I got, only one topic had multiple responses, so I thought I’d write about it first.

Here are the responses:

#1. Connecting w/peers &/or dealing w/isolation when working fm home long term.

#2. Being a work from home entrepreneur do you ever get lonely? If so how do you break the cycle?

The Dark Side of Working From Home

Working from home is amazing. You get to make your own schedule, skip the commute and work in your underwear if you feel like it.

But it’s not perfect.

Most people blabber online about the freedom and how good it feels to be in control of your destiny.

But no one talks about the utter loneliness and isolation that comes with it.

So let’s talk about it.

My First Year Working at Home

My first year in affiliate marketing was the most anti-social year of my life.

  • I spent all of my time at home, alone thinking and working.
  • I was in a new city (moved from OK to LA) and didn’t know anyone
  • My relationship fell apart.
  • I didn’t date anyone
  • No dinners
  • No friends in the industry to talk to

When I did get out of the house I went on long walks by myself, listening to music or audio books. But even though I was out of the house, I was still completely alone.

I finally decided to go to an Affiliate Summit West conference in Vegas where I found 4–5 people I could talk to. But they weren’t local, so our conversations usually only happened on Skype.

Slow Improvement

Over time, my social life slowly started to improve. But even all these years later, I still spend a lot of time alone.

But it’s not all bad.

To me, being alone is not a bad thing. Being an introvert and being able to spend a lot of time alone is actually a super power that is shared by most of the top people in the industry.

If you can’t sit down and disappear into your headphones and computer screen for long periods of time – you’re going to have a hard time keeping up with those of us who can. 🙂

That being said, I’m also a believer in some sort of work/life balance. So I do have some ideas for you.

Here are a few tips that might help you find some balance and get some of your social life back.

How To Deal With The Loneliness of Working From Home

  1. Conferences. There are millions of people, all over the world who are also working from home. Going to an industry related conference is a great way to meet them. You’ll get of the house, meet some new people and make some real friends who know exactly what you’re going through. This was the first way I added more people to my social circle. Highly recommended.
  2. Skype friends. If you live in a small town, or in another country and can’t get to a conference you’ll need some Skype friends. Video chatting and instant messaging is a great way to be social without leaving the house. I regularly do 30 minute calls with my Skype friends, talking shop and about our personal lives. Even though I only see these people in real life a few times a year, the Skype convos really do help.
  3. Co-working Spaces. Lately I’ve been considering renting a desk at a co-working space like WeWork. These offices are full of people who don’t feel comfortable working at home. Go by yourself or pull a few other people in to do it with you. Either way, you can get out of the house and be around people when you feel like it. But you don’t have to commit to a five day a week, 9–5 schedule.
  4. Meetups. Conferences have events, speakers and thousands of people. Meetups are much smaller, and usually local. Look online for a Meetup group in your area and get together with them in real life. If there’s no Meetups in your area, start one! All you need is two people to get started. I’m going to do this at some point. If you’re in the Los Angeles area and wanna meetup – get on the list right here.
  5. Forums. Another great way to “virtually socialize” is a forum. In the affiliate marketing world there are three that I have been a member of. STM, Affplaybook and MadSociety. I was a member and moderator of STM and Affplaybook before starting MadSociety. Each of these forums has hundreds, if not thousands of members talking about their work and lives. They also do meetups and conferences in real life all over the world — so everyone can meet face to face. If you’re an affiliate and need a social circle, join one of these forums and find some people in your area to add to your circle of friends.
  6. Hire Someone. One way to hang out with more people while you work from home is to hire them. I’ve had a few personal assistants over the years who worked all day with me in my apartment. This way you have people around, who are focused on helping you get your work done, versus distracting you like most people in an office environment. If you’re making enough cash, hire someone to work with you.
  7. Go On A Trip. If you’re able to work from home on a laptop, you can work from anywhere. Book a trip to see a friend or hang out with your family. Work in the mornings and spend the afternoon having fun. You’re not chained to your home office, so don’t live like you are.
  8. Teach a friend. One problem for affiliates who work from home is none of your friends understand what you do. You can change that by teaching someone how to play the game. If you do it, you’ll have a partner in crime you can hang out with, talk shop, go to conferences and share ideas with. There’s a good chance they hate their office job anyway, and would really appreciate you showing them how to escape.
  9. Subscribe to my Youtube Channel. Okay, so this isn’t a real world solution, but it works. I’ve heard a lot of people say that when they watch my Youtube videos, it’s like hanging out with a friend. I can say the same thing about some of the channels I watch. If you wanna hang out with me on Youtube you can subscribe right here. There are hundreds of people commenting that are probably very similar to you. Get to know them as well.
  10. Make A Social Calendar. Something that works for me is scheduling social time. You probably already have some sort of daily schedule. 8am–11am work, 1–2pm gym, etc. etc. Add a social element to your calendar a few times a week. Schedule it like it’s a business meeting. 1-2 hours with a friend a few times a week can completely change your outlook on life. I’m experimenting with this right now. I’m also considering opening up a public social calendar that will let you see my open times and book an hour to hangout.

Appreciate What You Have

Okay, now you have an arsenal of tools you can use to combat the loneliness. But I couldn’t end this post without talking about one more thing.

How lucky you are.

Yes, working from home can be lonely. But do you remember how working in a office feels? It’s terrible!

  • The 9–5 schedule
  • The daily commute
  • The annoying people who stop at your desk every 10 minutes asking you for a favor?
  • The awful birthday parties with cake and ice cream several times a week?
  • Those pointless Monday morning meetings?
  • That clueless boss who wants you to work this weekend?

There are millions of people around the world who would KILL to be in your position.

But we always want what we don’t have. If you fill your social calendar with two social meetups a day, you’ll probably start wanting to be alone again.

There is a phrase that runs through my mind all the time. It’s kind of a joke, but it’s kind of not. And that is:

The only thing worse than being alone, is being with someone else.

  • The Paladin

    Good post

  • Jim

    Thanks, this is a topic that is not often discussed, because freedom itself is the goal of most, and not what comes after.

    An issue I’ve had with working at home is that after years and years of 9 to 5, working at home left me with no structure. And although I had achieved my dream of freedom, my anxiety levels went through the roof. There was nobody to tell me when to go to work, when to stop working, when to have lunch etc.

    This is what years of working 9 to 5 does to you, it trains you to be in the cage, so when you are released after many years, your instinct is to stay in the cage. It’s a real thing, and I think this might happen to people who retire.

    I learned to make a schedule and stick to it. Work, workout, plan “The One Thing” I must accomplish that day.

    Another corollary to this is that if you are ambitious, like most freed people are, then you find you are working much more than you would at a job. You find yourself starting early and hustling for 12 hours, because you may be a tougher on yourself, and working much more than you did on the job.

    • Malan Darras

      “if you are ambitious, like most freed people are, then you find you are working much more than you would at a job.”

      ^^ true