Whether you’re working alone for the first time or have spent years flying solo, some working days can feel lonely. We’ve put together a list of five of our tried-and-tested ways to combat loneliness and protect your mental wellbeing when working alone.
Getting rid of annoying colleagues and office politics can feel pretty blissful when you’re first working alone. Finally, you think, you can grow your franchise or business without the incessant drone of the office chatterbox. But as the weeks and months stretch on, you might start to feel isolated and find yourself thinking about ways to combat loneliness during your working day. You’re not the only one feeling like this either – the Self-Employment Review found that almost 30% of entrepreneurs cited loneliness as a problem for them.
You’re probably craving a bit of company during your solo working days – you might even miss your intensely annoying former colleague, if things are really dire. But you’re in luck. There are plenty of easy ways to combat loneliness as you start a home-based franchise or solo venture. Here are five of our easiest and most effective options.
1. Give your workspace a makeover
Often, our home office set up can be a bit dingy, particularly if you’re temporarily working from home or you’re just starting out. You could be spending all your days looking at a magnolia wall or staring out at a brick wall from your window. That’s enough to drive anyone to despair. Aside from being unappealing, a bland workspace can genuinely impact your mental wellbeing. The Guardian reported that ‘ultra-minimalist’ workspaces can make us miserable, comparing them to zoo cages that offer no mental stimulation.
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Your set-up may just need a tweak to make you feel less lonely. Plants have been shown to improve happiness by 15%, according to a study by Exeter University’s psychologists, so introduce a bit of greenery into your office. You could also place pictures of family and friends all around your working area – invest in a collage photo frame or create your own arrangement to remind you of all of the great people you have in your life.
Alternatively, find a print, painting or photograph that makes you happy and hang it where you can always see it. You could also invest in nice desk accessories, or put a few ornaments around to brighten your surroundings. If you working area is in a dark corner of the house, lamps that simulate natural sunlight will brighten things up, literally and figuratively. As your mood lifts generally, you might find that your feelings of loneliness do too.
2. Silence isn’t golden
One common reason for loneliness in entrepreneurs is the lack of conversation across their days. You often don’t realise how many little interactions you have throughout the day – from saying hello to bus drivers to the casual chit-chat with desk mates to the small talk you make in a cafe as you pick up a lunchtime treat. When you’re sat at home, alone, with only the tick of the clock for company, loneliness can quickly creep in even for introverts.
A simple fix is turning the radio on or creating a playlist of your favourite tunes. The presence of another voice will stop the days feeling quite so lonely and help your mood stay high too. You could also try podcasts, if you prefer conversation to music, as it can recreate the positive atmosphere of being among people. Check out our top 11 podcasts to help you master the art of working from home for more inspiration.
Alternatively, schedule in a lunchtime call with a family member, friend or partner to break up the day. You could also take a midday break to watch an episode of your favourite TV show or listen to a funny audio book to give you a dose of laughter.
If you’re struggling to connect with others, use apps like Meetup and Facebook to find like-minded people in your area. You could also use online forums like Reddit, whether you’re looking for business-related talk or not, to give you a virtual break from isolation.
3. Turn to fellow entrepreneurs
Sometimes, loneliness can be driven by a feeling that nobody really understands what you’re going through. You might be surrounded by friends and family, but if they’ve never been a franchisee or business owner they won’t truly understand how tough it can be. If you’re craving more meaningful interactions, it’s important to build a strong business support network that you can always turn to. We’ve got plenty of advice on how to do that, so check out the article for more information.
And remember, if you’re part of a franchise you will always have a support network to turn to. Make the most of networking opportunities and conferences and recharge your social batteries during these events with your fellow franchisees. Your franchisor probably has plenty of their own wisdom to share about combating loneliness, so make sure you pick their brains for more ideas.
4. Change the scenery
You may love the peace of solitude, and the independence and freedom you’re enjoying as a franchisee suit your personality and working style much better. However, the physical isolation that comes with working alone can be harder to adjust to. Sometimes, just hearing other people going about their days can make you feel less lonely.
The easiest fix is to take your laptop out into the garden, or to take breaks away from your computer outside. Simply hearing kids playing, cars driving past and the sounds of DIY projects will get you out of your work bubble and remind you other human beings do exist. If you can, try and get out for a walk in your neighbourhood at lunchtime. A friendly smile from a neighbour, or a quick interaction with the staff at your local café or shop, might do wonders for your mental state.
You could also try and work in communal spaces like:
- Coffee shops
- Your local library
- Community centres
If you feel like a solely work-focused space could improve your mental wellbeing, look into renting a desk in a communal office or hot-desking space. You’ll be able to chat with other entrepreneurs over the kettle, while enjoying a productive environment where you can smash your daily to-do list. This option can be pricey, but it’s a worthwhile investment if it improves your mental state.
At the time of writing, these solutions are temporarily not an option, but they’re worth trying as long-term loneliness busters. For the time being, you could work with a friend in their garden for the afternoon, or tackle more mobile tasks (like calls and answering quick emails) during a socially distanced picnic in the park.
5. Break up your day
One of the biggest benefits about becoming a business owner, whether you’re running a home-based franchise or another venture that can be operated remotely, is the flexibility. You set your own working hours, so there’s nothing stopping you popping out for a coffee with a friend or relative or heading to the gym. However, lots of entrepreneurs feel that they’re too busy for such luxuries during the working day.
The damaging ‘grind mentality’ is prevalent in so many people who work from home, as it can be difficult to separate work from home when you don’t have an office or external workspace. You can work on into the night without a commute to round off your working day, and may even use work as a way to escape from your loneliness. It’s not a healthy approach to working alone and will leave you feeling burnt out before long.
Taking time for yourself isn’t lazy or unproductive. In fact, many of us experience a post-lunch slump in productivity, find ourselves faffing around and ultimately end up working longer hours. If you allow yourself a structured period to do something for yourself, like a lunchtime workout class or quick trip to the shops, you’ll get much-needed human interaction and will return to your desk feeling more positive and productive.
>> Read more:
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- 3 key traits of a successful franchisee
- Five Tips for Boosting Your Self-Confidence as a Business Owner
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On your own but not alone
Hopefully, these tips have given you some ideas about how you can alleviate your loneliness. Remember, it’s a very common problem and nothing to be ashamed about. Making just a few simple adjustments to your environment and routine can really boost your mood and help you feel more connected to the world. They’ll make you a better business owner or franchisee and all-round happier in the long run. If you’re looking for a new challenge that comes with a supportive network built-in, check out our UK franchise directory.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©