How to avoid cabin fever when working from home

How to avoid cabin fever when working from home

More and more people are latching onto the “working from home” craze for many reasons. During the past few years, the dated idea that any job that claims you can work from home is a get rich quick scam has lessened, and more & more of us are jumping on the bandwagon, & enjoying the many advantages & benefits that working from your kitchen can bring. Forums such as The Money Shed have opened up a world of opportunity by allowing people to share & discuss various home working options, as well as  weigh up the pros & cons. It can give you a world of flexibility – maybe you’re a mum who struggles to find childcare outside of school hours, or maybe you’re caring for a relative & can only work unsociable hours. It can also do wonders for your mental & physical health – no commuting, no angry boss with demanding deadlines, the ability to set your own pace & extra time to go to the gym/on walks are just a few of the benefits.

However, as well as all the advantages working from home brings, there’s always the disadvantages that make you think twice before handing in your notice. You have to have a LOT of self-discipline – there’s a lot of distractions at home such as the TV or radio, which can reduce the quality of your work. There’s also the pressure you put on yourself to work endlessly – maybe you feel the need to prove a point that you are able to work from home, as well as carrying out normal day-to-day activities such as the housework/ironing/childcare. One of the biggest disadvantages of working from home is “cabin fever”.

To put it simply, cabin fever is the boredom/irritability/general sense of being trapped from being stuck at home all day. Your home is your place of work as well as your resting place where you relax & unwind. When you’re a homeworker, this work/life balance goes to pot. You seem to be stuck in the house 24/7 staring the same four walls. Your house becomes more of a mess because you’re always in it, so you spend more time cleaning it which leads to you spending even more time in the house. It’s a vicious circle. The key to prevent this is to set up a dedicated place to work. Even if your house is small & you don’t have a spare room to convert into an office, you could always set up a little corner of your living room that you can call your office. Make it feel like a space you want to work in. You have to teach yourself that once you have finished work for the day & are out of that space (or the door is shut if you’re lucky enough to have a spare room), you leave the work behind until the next day. If you can, set working times are also a big help, and a “work uniform”. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you should lounge around in your pajamas all day – actually getting dressed as if you would for a “normal” job can help to create a more formal atmosphere in your workspace, which in turn will most likely lead to improved productivity.

Another problem of cabin fever is the lack of social interaction. Even the most introverted of people will go a little stir-crazy sometimes if they don’t have any human contact. Homeworkers struggle with this as they are on their own all day, but there are ways to integrate social interaction within your working day. Make time to go for a walk every day, join the gym, or pop to your friend’s house for a cuppa  – you are your own boss, so why not start your day at 10am, and use an hour before that to interact with others. A lot of people I know also use social media & Skype to chat online.

Make time for yourself at least once a week, maybe more. You have to have something to look forward to. Workers with jobs in the outside world may look forward to drinks with work colleagues on a Friday night after their shift at the office. Homeworkers should also make the time to fit in activities they enjoy – be it a shopping trip, a date night or even a trip to the park with the dog & kids. Regular breaks from work will do wonders for your mental health.

Structure should play a key part in avoiding cabin fever. It’s in our nature to become lazy if we don’t have some kind of structure – unfortunately when we work from home structure tends to go out of the window. This is where self-discipline needs to kick in. Choose the hours you work and stick to them.  Make a “to-do” list daily. I tend to find that if I have a list of jobs to do, I work through them & tick them off as I go. I don’t do anything other than work during my set hours – I leave the dishes/hoovering/ironing until after work. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment knowing I am putting my dedicated work time to good use, which in turn, makes me happy. Don’t use your work time to do online shopping/play bingo/trawl Twitter – that can be done in your relaxation time.

Finally, chat with like-minded people. The Money Shed is a fantastic platform to discuss any issues/fears/tips you may have, and as as bonus, you’ll probably make some friends along the way, as well as have a good laugh. Remember, we’re all in the same virtual boat 🙂

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