One of the great advantages to working remotely is that you can hang out in your pajamas. In fact, most days I work in yoga pants and a tank top with my hair pulled back in a bun that resembles a bird’s nest. I use the time that I save when I skip the shower, make up, and accessorizing to take my dogs for a walk or read. It is a much more pleasant way to start the day than my old routine of waking before the sun, rushing to get ready and prepare both my breakfast and lunch to eat on the road. The problem is, humans are not designed to live in isolation. After a day or two I begin to crave contact with the outside world.
As I was researching the effects of isolation for my upcoming book Being a Rock Star Remote Worker: How to Shine From Afar, I learned that lonely people have higher blood pressure, are vulnerable to infections, and often experience issues with sleep patterns and logical reasoning. In fact, it is common for someone who is lonely to have negative responses in their immune system.
I was recently listening to an old podcast from NPR about the Birdmen of Beijing. Raising birds is a popular pastime for old men in China. In Beijing, every morning the city parks become a-twitter with men and their birds as they gather to spend the morning together. It seems that both the birds and their humans need contact with the outside world to be healthy and thrive. The chatting and card playing stimulates the men’s minds. The birds get fresh air and sunshine while tweeting to one another from their cages hanging in the trees.
One man in the podcast explained it like this; “To put it simply, to take care of a bird is to take care of yourself,” he says. “Walking your bird is also taking yourself for a stroll. It’s like going to work, every morning at eight o’clock, rain or shine. The routine of raising a bird is just like that.”
So what about you? Are you finding ways to battle the isolation of being a remote worker? Where can you find birds of a feather to flock with? Sharing your ideas and your pain points with others can help unlock the creativity needed to move forward with a project. This week, find a way to be around other people.
Don’t just tweet from your phone, but get out there and interact. Phone a friend or a colleague and suggest a lunch date, join a local networking group, or simply work from the library or a local cafe. But remember, humans can only work at optimal levels for about 90 minutes before they need a break, so be sure to close your laptop once in awhile and strike up a conversation with someone close by.
There is plenty to talk about this week. The Clooney twins were born, SpaceX launched its eleventh resupply mission to the International Space Station, and Apple made a slew of announcements at its annual developer’s conference. I’m sure you can find something to talk about for a few minutes to battle isolation, get the creative juices flowing, and get back to work refreshed and ready to tackle the problems of the day.