I should get out more

photo-107Working from home is great. It’s highly efficient, with no need to drive anywhere. If I need to get in touch with someone, I can just email or call.

But there’s always a trade-off, because I like to write about interesting things. And not many interesting things happen in my home office. Vast as the internet is, it is not the only source of stories, or the only source of new connections. I need to get out and find such things.

So how to think about this? Despite my frequent vacations (see yesterday’s post), in normal life I find it’s always easier not to do something. Driving into Philadelphia is a minimum hour out of my day beyond whatever thing I’m doing there. Going to New York or Washington adds more time and bother. I went to NYC last Thursday and various logistical snafus meant I got there 2 hours after I intended. I go for obvious things, like if I’m giving a speech. I’m happy to go for that (I am! Now booking for this fall!). It’s more the stuff on the margins. Maybe an event will be worthwhile, and maybe it won’t.

I suspect I am underinvesting in this aspect of work — the getting-out-there-and-meeting-people part of the job. I can’t go to everything, obviously, but I shouldn’t go to nothing either. So how should I decide? How do you decide? 

10 thoughts on “I should get out more

  1. I read recently (maybe on Slate?) that a good way to judge whether to take on a commitment is to consider whether you would do it TOMORROW. Would you move appointments and change child care arrangements? Because you would do that six months from now anyway. Maybe this is helpful in determining whether a potential opportunity is worth it.

  2. Oh, I hear you. All my life I’ve been self-employed and much of that time at home. But for me, the need is more about connecting with people than attending events. And proximity is key. I’ve joined professional organizations as much for the friendships as for the business benefits. Have you made friends near where you live? You might for opportunities to connect with people by taking a class, teaching a class, doing more with people at the Y you already belong to, or joining an organization. You can always discuss your current thinking with these new friends, so pleasure and business get mingled.

  3. I don’t think getting out and having experiences to generate ideas is contingent on commuting into major metro areas or traveling by air. Having lived in Boston for a decade, I can relate to not wanting to leave my house. Just parking at the CVS was a challenge. Isn’t there a way to enrich your thinking closer to home by engaging more deeply in your immediate community? Are you trying to generate more ideas within the theme of productivity and time and finding that you have been writing about this for so long that it is hard to think of new ways to think about it?

  4. I know that here in New Haven there are “networking” offices. You rent a desk/space for the day/week/month and you are around other self-employed people. I thought that was an interesting concept although also terrifying at the same time (to me).

  5. No advice for you since I’ve never worked from home, but I’m going to be once we move, and I do worry about the isolation aspect in the long term. In the short term, I’m really looking forward to having quiet alone time.

  6. I did my dissertation from home, and I do feel that my networking and attendance at conferences that could have been high value to me suffered. I don’t know what the solution is since I still don’t have an at work office. Hopefully this will improve as I advance in my career, but you’re right — if you’re not already AT the place where the event is held, the cost of attending is much higher.

  7. Hmmm. Maybe you can come up with a set number of events to attend per month and then just pick the best 3 (or 5 or whatever number you choose) and put them on your calendar. Try that for a month or two and if it really doesn’t seem to be impacting your career or life in any positive way, you can cut them back out.
    I know when its not on my calendar (i.e. something I specifically chose and planned to attend) I am tempted to skip conferences and events, even if its just a short walk from my office.

  8. I too work out of a home office and can feel the same disconnect at times. My colleagues and I keep in touch to help feel like we work together. Along with Networking events I also took a part time job to be amongst people so that I can make the connections I miss out on by working in a home office all day. I love the freedom of working from home. With no kids or wife around, I can relate to the seclusion a home office can create. Other ways of dealing with the seclusion is getting out for a bike ride/walk when you have a few free minutes in your day, even if its only 15 minutes, it can be very relaxing, energizing and fulfilling all at the same time, let alone good for you! Even a becoming a regular at a coffee shop or lunch place allows you to make personal connections that help fulfill your day and give you that source of life experiences.

  9. Only do what you want to do when it comes to social engagements.

    I spend so much of my time socializing for business, when my professional commitments are complete, I’m happy to be alone doing the things I love at home and in my neighborhood… like playing with my dog, walking in Central Park, weekend TV Marathons of OITNB & House of Cards, and curating my latest workout playlists.

    I don’t feel bad anymore about the fact I enjoy solitude. There’s so much noise in this world, I find putting myself first and means many may deem me an “introverted recluse” and feel that I must be “missing out.”

    Having been to Davos during the World Economic Forum for six years, I made a conscious decision not to go this past January.

    I was invited, offered a chalet, but really didn’t feel compelled to attend after launching a huge international project last year, so I didn’t.

    I did wonder what my feelings would be during those dates in January….Would I feel like I’m missing out? Will people forget me?

    The dates for Davos approached, everyone was departing NYC, and I couldn’t have felt better about my choice.
    I have been so many years in a row now, I know 75% of the attendees… and I can call just about anyone and have them visit me if they want to meet or socialize.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, I work from my home office as well, and those questions of “getting out” surface on a somewhat regular basis, yet I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll go out when I’m truly compelled.

    The truth is whatever and whoever is out there doing whatever they are doing cannot compete with my 5 pound, 8 month old puppy and nights reading Shantaram with an incredible view of Manhattan out my window.

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