Loneliness – Dealing with the feeling of loneliness as a stay at home worker.

Starting Up A Business As A Stay At Home Dad. Part 8

I started this blog a few weeks ago, in the PRE-CORONAVIRUS days; do you remember those days? I started writing about the issues around the loneliness that can affect the work from home, and now it looks like LOTS more of you may be working from home for a while.

If so, this one is for you. If you’re not used to being on your own for long periods of time during the day let’s look at the best ways I’ve found over the years for dealing with it.

Importantly this is NOT a manual on how to survive virus epidemics or prevent infection etc, just some tips that have helped me.

1. Use technology to stay in touch and reduce loneliness

Hopefully, you will still be communicating with people, just maybe not in the same way as you’re used to. I’ve noticed that people who are very used to an office environment have to think twice before choosing to use Teams, SkypeWhatsApp or Zoom for their meetings. Maybe they don’t need to, but if you’re working from home the platforms mentioned above are great. We’ll discuss these in a different post some time. Do yourself a favour, install these apps on your phone on your PC by all means but don’t let them control your life. They can be great for informal chats as well as formal business chats. Depending on your colleagues/clients/friends sometimes a well-placed appropriate meme or emoji can put a smile on someone’s face and make a human connection.

We’re going to write a piece very shortly about how to tame your phone. Let YOU call the shots for a change 🙂

2. Get a dog, they’re great company

cute dog

A couple of years ago our daughter Lilia started asking if we could have a dog, she is totally crazy about them. Granny gave her a book with hundreds of photos of dogs in and she literally knows most of the breeds there are about.

I’d been brought up with dogs all my life but had had absolutely no ambition to own one until now. I LOVED having dogs as friends when I was a kid and it was suddenly something I really wanted for Lil to experience.  It wasn’t initially for me, it was for her and thankfully my wife was up for it too.  The decision had been made and we found our rescue mutt Gracie from a Cyrus adoption charity.

It took me a while after Gracie appeared to realize that I had been a bit lonely before she took up residence. She really is good company and although buying a mutt is a serious commitment. As a family, we’re so glad we made that decision. On a personal level, as a stay-at-home worker, being able to talk to someone during the day, even though she doesn’t always answer back, has really helped me stay sane.

The loneliness of working from home only really started to hit me when Lilia spent more time away from me than with me. At first, it was great to be able to give loads of time and effort to build the business up. With a laptop, you can work in a cafe, a library and they’re all good options. Which then raises the question about hardware and what you need to run that business successfully.

3. Tooling up – buying the right computer.

I generally find myself upgrading once a year, and in many ways, my purchase decisions are based upon the premise that there are business developments around the corner that I just don’t know about yet. I don’t know EXACTLY where the business is heading, because things happen, like Coronavirus that can throw things out. Or you find you’re suddenly running a massive database or something that you hadn’t allowed for. This happened to me 2 years ago, I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro and it was a great piece of hardware IMHO, but 4 months down the road I was running some big databases and the Surface Pro just wasn’t up to the job. Sadly, after a year of struggling, I passed it on to my wife Rose who thinks it’s great also. It does everything she needs as a Postgrad student, running Microsoft Office and web apps.

I meanwhile went and brought a ‘workhorse’ machine to run big software, and they don’t come better values than the PC Specialists . Their laptops are quite big, but they’re powerful and an excellent price. Check them out.

As time moved on, so did my requirements again. This week I purchased the Surface Pro 7 you see above. The spec on this machine is as low as I would want to go for my requirements. The only component I saved money on was the size of the SSD card. If I’m every storing more than 256GB of data on my SSD then I’ve got a problem. There are lots of features I really like about this machine, one of them being the lightness of weight so I can easily carry it around with me and visit friends and family on foot and still work from anywhere.

The i7 processor matched with a decent enough SSD to mean Windows and apps load nice and fast. I hate waiting for computers, its part of the reason why I specialize in making them run as fast as they can to do a job, we call it Automation of Microsoft Office. As I no longer run large databases and have automated many processes in a much more efficient way, I no longer need the ‘workhorse’ as much.  

4. Cloud it or Lose It

When working from home, you may not have the luxury of being to access the remote networked storage of a larger business. Your own business files are important, you put in the hours, so you need to do everything you can to keep your hard work safe. Store files and documents in the cloud and if you lose or get your laptop stolen/broken you won’t lose your business. You get loads of cloud storage when you get a subscription for Office 365. If you haven’t got one you should think about it.. PLEASE PLEASE don’t buy a ‘cheap’ version from eBay or such like, buy it from Microsoft and you know it will actually work and be legal.

The other advantage of using cloud storage is that you can log in anywhere and access your files and there are sharing capabilities too. This can be useful if you are visiting clients but don’t want to bring your laptop with you.

Therefore my main tips for working from home are:

  • Use tech to stay in touch with your friends and networks
  • Consider getting a dog (or use services like ‘Borrow my dog’)
  • Invest in the right laptop to enable you to take your work/business anywhere
  • Make sure your (digital) work/business is safe and backed up

If you read my previous articles or know anything about my business, you will know that one of my main motivations is efficiency. Being able to balance work and family life by doing things in the quickest yet most reliable way possible. This is why buying the Surface Tablet was also appealing for me as it has a Pen to accompany it…

I’m going to write about this in my next blog post. See you then I hope.