On Isolation

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You guys know what the best part about freelancing is? Working from home. You know what the worst part is? Working from home. No, seriously. I know you’re all, “Man, it must be awesome to just work at home in your jammies and not have an office or annoying co-workers.” Well, you’re right…sorta. Yeah, it’s nice that my commute consists of my walk downstairs from the bedroom to my office with a stop in the kitchen for coffee and breakfast. It’s nice that I can work at my own pace, listen to my own music, wear what I want, eat what I want, talk to the dog, and spend a whole day without putting up with someone else’s banal stories about their favorite television shows or their uninformed political opinions. What’s not nice is the utter and constant isolation of working at home. I know some people can do it, and that kind of peace and quiet and isolation is nice at times, but too much time alone and I turn into fucking Nell over here. How do I combat that? How do I mitigate freelancer loneliness with needing to get shit done? Well, I’m glad you asked!

See, those days when I’m not spending my day dadding around the dad farm with The Kid, it’s deafeningly quiet in the house. No amount of music and no number of adorable dogs make up for human interaction. Judicious use of Yahoo Messenger, AiM, and GChat help to alleviate some of the problem, but not even the siren call of the instant message can totally replace actual IRL human interaction. Even when it is stay at home dad time, I’m still hanging out with a three-year-old, around other three-year-olds. Now, arguably, The Kid and her cadre of little friends are more mature than I am, but their grasp of language is still a little tenuous which makes for poor conversation and I end up mostly talking about graham crackers and poop. Not that I don’t have adult interaction, The Kid’s friends have parents who are cool and I have the band and my bandmates to assist me in getting into trouble. That’s all after work, though. Sometimes though, when I can’t sit at my desk anymore and I can’t stand the sight of my office or my house or my dog but I still need to get, say, ten-thousand words written, I pack off to a remote office.

Seriously freelancers. Get yourself a remote office. There are a couple of coffee houses and bars I frequent with good coffee, handsome young baristas of the hipster variety with a bunch of steel in their faces and halfway decent ink peeking out of their thrift store chic, and all the free broadband I can use. There’s also a couple of great co-working spaces around town that I’m looking into, which are more formal and probably more conducive to actual work as opposed to people watching and navel gazing. While they can be pretty distracting, especially when there are colleagues or bandmates around drinking their coffee and updating their blogs and gazing at their navels, I find that the simple act of taking a shower, packing a bag, and getting the hell out of the house improves both my mood and my productivity.

See, I tend to get kind of scope locked when I’m in the house too long by my lonesome, especially in winter when I can’t just escape to the garage or roll the bike down to the Stone House for an afternoon refresher. During winter I lose track of time, forget to do my chores, miss meals, stay in my jammies all day, rave at the dog, and generally become the Mountain Man of Hazel Park until The Wife and The Kid get home and civilize me again. It’s exhausting, and it’s honestly bad for my work to be cooped up like that. It leads to all sorts of procrastinating and backsliding and dicking around which leads to larger problems like I discussed over the past week. Getting out for a cuppa and a little socializing while getting work done gets those creative juices that have coagulated in isolation flowing again. Some fresh air and perspective with a double dose of caffeine definitely helps me get my head screwed back on straight and makes me more productive in the long run. Sadly, during my recent work freak-out I became so isolated because I have so many words to write and I can’t leave my desk but I can’t write any of these words and oh look new Borderlands 2 DLC arghablarghablarghargha… that I stopped using IM and nearly stopped leaving the house altogether. That’s what we call unhealthy behavior, kids.

Today though, I’m at a fine coffee house in my favorite city with handsome baristas and smart, creative colleagues and I’m actually getting work done. Feverishly trying to finish this Deathwatch assignment that I’m waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overdue on and doing some actual blogging, which is crazy talk. So, yeah. I’ve run my yap enough about this. Freelancers (and other stay-at-home employees), get yourself a remote office. Even if you live in the back of beyond and the nearest civilization is an hour away, make yourself a space somewhere out of the house where you can work and clear your head and remove yourself from the distractions of your home office. Seriously, it’ll make you happier and more productive and prevent you from, say, growing your beard out and gnawing at your own arm while mumbling about reptillians.

4 thoughts on “On Isolation

  1. This is certainly true. It’s surprising just how on the ball you can get by getting out of the house. Plus, when I stay home I inevitably end up doing all the other things I’d rather do instead. :)

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