How to Avoid A Mental Breakdown From Working At Home

How to Avoid A Mental Breakdown From Working At Home

Do you remember what happened to Jack Torrance when he tried to ‘work from home’ in The Shining?

Jack thought a little peace and quiet would be nice. What better way to finish his writing than to migrate to a remote hotel with nothing but time and his rocking shadow to fill the void? Unfortunately, that particular ‘home’ turned out to be harbouring some sinister spirits.

Believe it or not, Internet Marketers and Jack Torrance have something in common. No, not haunted mansions. But rather, we have to deal with the psychological effect of isolation. We have to win the battle that goes on inside our heads.

Disconnecting from the world and working from home is some people’s idea of paradise. Well, if you’re not careful, it could turn in to your idea of Hell. And before you know it…

Here's Johnny

Well shit, Sherlock. I guess that 9-5 doesn’t look so bad, after all.

We Are All Creatures of Habit

From the age of about 5, we are indoctrinated with a system of routines. A system that – for many people – lasts all the way through to retirement.

There are 8760 hours in a year, and not many people have the power and responsibility to decide how they spend every last one of them.

I’ve spoken to many Internet Marketers like myself, and a recurring theme is the difficulty in striking a work-life-play balance.

Even though I had less freedom, I look back on my stint working for a London agency as one of the easiest times of my life. The days and weeks were laid out for me. You turn up at 9am, leave the office at 6pm, and whatever hours left in the day are yours to spunk however you see fit. There was a beautiful simplicity to life, albeit a restricting schedule that often left me chewing a large Mocha to get through the mornings.

I won’t lie. Working from home will always be my preferred arrangement. But it comes at the price of isolation. Do you ever feel that the rest of the world is racing on by without you?

The effect was magnified during my 8 months living in Thailand. There were periods of mild depression where I felt so isolated from other 24 year olds that I lost complete direction and control over my life. I came back to London thinking it would reignite me somehow. I was excited just to be able to communicate in English with whoever was serving me coffee. It was a luxury. But now having settled back in to the suburbs, the same restlessness has returned with a vengeance.

I come from the small town of Ruislip in North West London. It’s a nice town, but it rarely sets my pulse racing. The last time I got excited was when Boris Johnson rolled up outside Budgens seeking London Mayoral votes. You know you’ve got problems when the presence of Boris makes your day.

Despite being just 40 minutes from the hub of Central London, life here is slow. It’s really slow. There are times where I forget that human life exists outside my window, until I hear the trundle of a granny mowing down the street on her scooter. Then I realise, Jesus Christ, if she doesn’t slow down, some poor sod is about to get his arse extinguished by her four wheeled killing machine. That’s when I feel alive.

From my home office window, on a particularly exciting day, I may glimpse next-door’s cat getting in to a fight with a pigeon. But that’s about it. There are times where for all of the freedom and comfort that comes from working at home, I do question my future sanity. I’m 24 years old and most of my conversation throughout the day comes from two extremely lively dogs barking at me for food. Is this really all there is to Internet Marketing?

I think a lot of want-to-be-work-at-homers underestimate how quickly total freedom can spiral in to a blur of inactivity. There are times where ‘rudderless ship’ has summed me up perfectly.

Working from home creates a huge vacancy of time. Pretending that such a void can be filled with work, television and coffee is quite possibly one of the biggest lifestyle fuck-ups you can make.

Everybody needs to feel alive socially, and much of the natural gravitation behind that pursuit is stripped away when you decide to work from home. You have to make the effort, on a personal level, to ensure that your sense of camaraderie and belonging doesn’t dissipate from the moment you leave the office for the final time. Working at home is not the answer to anybody’s true sense of paradise. It’s just a contributing factor.

When you have more hours at your disposal than everybody else, you need to find more ways to pass the idle time. You need hobbies and social routines. Activities that snap you away from your screen and inject purpose beyond making money from so-and-so.

A day built around wealth generation is completely wasted when you think about it. Why aren’t you enjoying what you already have? I’ve had to answer that question many times for myself and it represents my biggest struggle of the last 3 years.

We are all creatures of habit. For most of us, those habits are defined through systems that are implemented from childhood. But when you step outside the system, isolation and poor planning can unleash a truly ugly creature.

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