Working and living alone: A survival guide

Luz Alvarado

Business Performance Analyst, iProspect Canada

Working from home has become the new normal for most of us who are fortunate enough to still be in the workforce. It has come with different challenges for everyone, from balancing chores, keeping children entertained and finding the perfect workspace to dealing with loneliness, especially for those living alone like I am.

I won’t deny that during self-isolation it’s been hard at times to feel connected and focused. It took a few weeks of experimentation to find myself working at my usual productive pace and to find motivation in isolation. I know I’m not the only one going through this, so I wanted to share what’s helping me stay productive, happy and healthy working from home while living alone.

Adapting old morning rituals

My days used to start at a local spin studio, come rain or shine. However, since the social distancing measures started, I’ve struggled to workout at home. No “Hello, bonjour!” greetings signing into class, no energy bumping class buddies, just a video and myself.

Like many of you, my favourite part of working out is doing it with others.  So, I decided to ask one of my friends to join my dancing sessions over a video call so that I could keep up my energy-boosting morning ritual.

If none of your friends are able to join you, there are tons of live online classes so you can keep moving with others. 

Scheduling a virtual coffee

You’re probably used to grabbing a morning coffee with your coworkers the minute you get into the office and chatting about each other's lives. Starting your day with this type of interaction, no matter how long or short, made your day different right? It did for me.

A few weeks ago, my team decided to schedule 30-minute morning video calls to chat about whatever, just like we would on a normal day. This has helped me to stay connected with them, start my day on a positive note, as well as strengthening our relationships. 

Planning lunch dates

Eating alone is completely fine and I do enjoy doing it, but not so much when it's a daily occurrence, and it’s even worse if it’s indefinite. It didn’t feel lonely before because I had my weekday lunch break gatherings at work.

It might be hard to schedule daily lunches with your colleagues, but remember, they are not the only ones working from home now. I started planning lunch dates not only at work, but also with friends and family a few times per week so I could stay connected.

Switching workstations 

Although staying at my designated workspace at home helped me separate leisure and work areas, being there for long hours made me feel confined.

I decided to have a different workstation depending on hours/tasks. I am normally at my desk where my extra screen is in the morning, then switch to my dining table after lunch, and end up on the couch around 4pm to respond/prepare emails, or coordinate items. 

Every day is not the same and I can’t always stick to this routine. However, knowing that I can be efficient in various spaces depending on the tasks, alleviates my sense of detachment. 

Acknowledging the end of your workday

One of the things that I struggled with the most was separating work from my personal life. There's no longer a commute nor a goodbye from a colleague that signals to your brain that your workday is done. When living alone, this might lead to an unhealthy working routine with a lack of boundaries. 

What really helped me was to establish an activity that indicates work is done. Sometimes I try to go on a long walk once I’m done with the day, other days I call my mom or a close friend. Finding an activity that you would not normally do between working hours is key.

We are all going through this crisis in our own way. Looking for ways to manage this new era of continuous change. These are just some of the steps I’ve taken to reduce the impact of living and working in isolation and I hope you can add a few tweaks here and there to bring happiness and balance to your own situation.

For now, let’s stick together, virtually.