I had just finished dropping our two oldest kids at school, and our youngest was quietly napping. I was just starting to settle back into this new role of working from home, so I pour myself a cup of coffee and plop down in my sweet wife’s office while she types away on the computer. I start rambling on about nothing really important, and Michelle looks up at me and lovingly says, “Do you need something?”
Completely taken off guard, I start explaining that I just wanted to catch up, while she explained to me that she had less than two hours to finish 3-4 hours worth of work and would like to be alone.
I’m pretty sure I’m in company that understands my wife’s focused work ethic and perspective pretty well. But just in case, before you start thinking negatively toward her, the truth is that with small kids, especially when she was exclusively breastfeeding our youngest, her windows to get work done from home are relatively small. And despite tighter time restrictions, that doesn’t lighten the load of her responsibility.
I, on the other hand, was coming from an environment where it was common for me to grab multiple cups of coffee per morning, stop at several offices along the way, and even have an unplanned visitor or two pop into my office just to catch up. Neither my wife nor I are lazy, and we are both hyper-productive, but one key distinction between us is that I am an extrovert and she is an introvert.
I may have just shocked some of you with that tidbit about Michelle. After all, she’s never short on words, and she’s happiest with a crowd and a microphone. But I have heard the difference between introvert and extrovert explained several times, and the best question I’ve heard for differentiating it is:
“Do you recharge best with people, or do you recharge best alone?”
I like this question because many of us are a good blend of both. Depending upon your job, you might be forced to be either “on” or isolated all day; and as a result, you want the opposite of that after work hours to balance yourself out.
The first time I heard this question, I knew immediately that I recharge best with people. I would have people over for dinner five out of seven dinners per week. In fact, early on in our marriage, Michelle had to beg me for one sacred night per week that would be reserved for just us, because otherwise I would just invite someone or another couple to tag along.
So if you, too, are an extrovert working from home, or if you are married to one, here are five tips to help you cope and thrive within the isolation that often accompanies working from home.
Schedule Interaction Every Day
I found myself getting drained, or embarrassed scrolling through my phone, looking for someone I could call that day, hoping that they would be available to pick up their phone when I randomly called. Now, I schedule calls to connect with colleagues, friends, and family members. This keeps my relational tank full, and keeps me recharged to do the isolated tasks at my best.
Do Personal Development Everyday
Just a few months into the transition of working from home, my dad passed away. This was difficult for many reasons, but one of the most difficult to overcome was that I had lost the interaction of calling him 3-4 times per week. I caught myself driving in my car in silence numerous times, which only reminded me of why it was quiet. One day, a friend asked me who I was podcasting. Feeling encouraged, I reactivated several of my podcast accounts and began listening to and/or reading something every single day.
I’ve found that this tip, even though you are still alone, stimulates my mind to think and react to the information I’m taking in, causing time to fly by and for me to feel more motivated to work.
Never Eat Alone
I practiced this tip when I worked in an office, surrounded by tons of people, and I still practice it now. Life is short, and relationships are everything. We all have to eat something every day, and often times, the best life-on-life conversations happen in fun, non-work settings. It could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a coffee break, but sharing one meal each day with someone else breaks up the work day with a practical need and keeps me feeling recharged.
Something I found to be an extreme benefit to working from home was extra time to dedicate to my health. I discovered a few workouts that I could do from my home in 30 minutes or less. Though again, I wasn’t working out with someone beside me, just getting active released my endorphins to boost my attitude and energy needed to power through my day.
Get Involved Somewhere
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you are trapped at home! I have found that while working from home, I am much more inclined to volunteer in my community and my church in a way that I simply didn’t before. Coaching my son’s t-ball team or helping out with different projects at church are great activities that make me feel like my time and energy are benefiting not just myself, but others too.
With work from home opportunities increasing every year, I want to encourage my fellow extroverts out there to not sit at home, scrolling your newsfeed, coveting everyone else’s life. Instead, get out there and live the life that God created just for you to live! (He made you that way for a reason!)