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Let Beethoven Rock Your Isolation Blues

There’s no isolation like silence.
By Mark Landsbaum

Do you ever find yourself talking to yourself, simply for lack of companionship? Does a knock at the door startle you, accustomed as you’ve become to your tomb, er, that is, your home office?

If you’re exhibiting such symptoms, you’ve got the “I work out of my home and I really love it, really I do, isolation blues.”

There’s nothing like too much of a good thing to drive you up the wall. It’s great to work at home, but for the home office-bound, there’s also no shortage of walls. What to do?

When considering solutions, there are the usual suspects: Lunch with clients. Lunch with suppliers. Lunch with Mom. Meetings out of the office. Workshops out of the office. Just standing outside of the office.

But come on now, we can do better than that. Think outside the box. Recharge your batteries by embracing the unlikely. Be brave. Go where no home office entrepreneur has gone before.

Go to the beach. Or the park. Or the mall. Or the bus terminal. The point of these admittedly radical solutions is to escape your four-walled prison and plop down amid a swarm of humanity. It’s true enough in such venues that, even equipped with your laptop computer, you may not be as productive – if you’ll be productive at all. But that’s not really the point, is it? You’re already productive.

What you need is to cure your isolation. So, surround yourself with folks. Take an occasional respite in a public place. Enjoy people watching. Engage in casual conversation with utter strangers. Remind yourself that you’re part of a community, even if they are strangers. Odds are, not all of them will remain strangers.

There’s no better way to break out of a rut than completely changing the scenery. Don’t just do a meeting out of the office. Do it up special. Some unlikely locales can provide just the change needed from your drab everydayness. Many hotel chains have revamped their lobbies to encourage informal business meetings. Some of the higher-end hostelries can be a genuine treat, in a high-tea sort of way. Indulge.

You don’t always have to flee to escape. Forcing contact with actual live human beings is effective too. You may over-rely on e-mail for your lifeline to clients and suppliers. Break the mold. Be bold. Pick up the telephone.

Between low-cost Internet-based phone services and gazillions of free cell phone minutes, you can afford it. Make a vow today to actually speak audible words to one client or contractor every day. It’ll reduce your reliance on your own voice for confirmation that you remain among the living.

A few more tips:

  • Visit a neighbor. It’s permitted. The boss won’t care, since you’re the boss.

  • Walk – don’t drive – to the supermarket. Since your exercise generally consists of bending to tie your shoes, the walk will do you good. And you’ll actually see people.

  • Pump up the volume. There’s no isolation like silence. Turn up Beethoven just short of window rattling. Hey, maybe a neighbor will knock on your door to complain. Two birds with one stone!

 

Mark Landsbaum is an award-winning writer and author who can be heard mumbling aloud to no one in particular in his home office, where he’s plied his trade since 1995.