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Most people think that working from home is that it offers you the ability to have a better social life, because you can control your own hours and don’t have a long commute to worry about. While these factors are true, I was surprised to learn that when working from home you have to put considerable work into your social life simply don’t have one.
1. Set ground rules
Friends, regardless of how well meaning, tend to assume that if you’re at home then you’re free to hang out with. One of the challenges with working from home is that there is little distinction between work and free time, particularly if you don’t set down any clear guidelines. This means that you may find yourself spending more time with friends than you can afford to, or conversely, not seeing them much at all.
Setting ground rules is a good way of getting past this. For example, I might say that I work six hours each day including Saturday, but not Sunday. The exact hours I work may be a little different each day, but a general approach is to try and work straight through from when I start until about seven hours later, which allows for time for breaks. Other people set specific times of the day that they work, like the mornings and afternoons, and keep other times free.
2. Set aside time to go out
One of the things that you notice about working from home is that you really don’t see a lot of people. Think about working at an office for a moment. Regardless of how antisocial you are, you see people every day. You end up making friends whether you mean to or not, and you may even end up going out with some of the people. The amount of people you associate with on a daily basis probably isn’t something you are very aware of, but you notice it when it stops.
I prefer my own company to that of others most of the time, but even I found that I missed people when I started to work from home. I quickly found that the best approach was to set aside time to go out and stick to this regardless of what else comes up.
The best way for me to do this was to sign up for regular groups, like a scrapbooking club or a sports group, because this means I see the same group of people each time. Plus, the regular nature of the groups stops me from making excuses and not turning up.
3. Maintain networks of friends
Because you don’t see people very often when you are working from home, it can be more difficult to develop friendships. This means that you should maintain friendships whenever you can. Social networks are brilliant for this, particularly as you are online anyway, just make sure you don’t spend too long on Facebook when you are meant to be working.