My commute was up the stairs. My workday was self-directed, flexible, and light on responsibility. Most people would call it the ideal job. For me, working at home for a magazine was a long slow descent into depression, anxiety, and claustrophobia. The rest of the magazine staff was in New York, and a week at a time would pass without a call from my co-workers. E-mails simply served to exchange files. I was alone for eight or nine hours a day for more than a year and it drove me insane. I am a social creature. I generate energy from being around people. But that period in my life was years ago, before CrimeSpace, Facebook, Twitter, and list servs.
Now I’m working at home again as a novelist and freelance editor. So far, I’m loving it. But it is different this time. I’m connected to people through the Internet, and I’m able to set my own hours and take breaks when I want. But I worry about what it will be like for me six months or a year from now. I want this career phase to work out long term. So here’s my strategy for staying sane while working at home:
- Make time to reach out to people on the Internet periodically throughout the day.
- Have lunch with real-live person once a week.
- Conduct interviews in person even if they can be done by phone.
- Schedule regular social activities (such as weekly bowling with my brothers).
- Join a writers group and meet periodically (I haven’t done this yet, but it’s on my list).
- Open Pandora, click my funk station and dance for five minutes at least twice a day. Dancing is so joyful, it wards off depression.
I assume that most of the people I interact with throughout the day also work at home. So tell me, how do you keep from getting cabin fever?