Where Do You Go When You Need A Mental Shake Up?

When you work from home it can be pretty easy to find yourself lost in your own thoughts. There are days when I mull over a challenge, sometimes mumbling to myself, but most often making endless lists and taking copious notes in an attempt to work myself to a solution. When there is no one else around to bounce ideas off of or provide a fresh perspective days like these can quickly spiral out of control. The higher that mental hurdle gets the more prone to distraction or frustration I become and the further I get from any kind of solution.

When I first transitioned to working from home full time I lost a number of days to lone worker aimlessness. I quickly lost patience with the trend and took control of the situation. I realized that when I worked in an office and found myself at a dead end I would pick the brain of my officemate, take a stroll to another department to get a different spin on the issue entirely or make sure to bring it up in a team meeting. So I simply needed to build up a team of minds I could access from my home office using some less than traditional channels.

After a year of adding to and refining my lists I now have a solid collection of sources for inspiration. They fall into two categories; direct and indirect. 

Direct: These are sources I can directly interact with when I need a mental shake up

• My Twitter community: The people I engage with on Twitter come from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. Many of them are in similar situations as myself and we rely on each other to provide support and perspective. The ideas and input I can access via my Twitter serve as substitute officemates and often open my eyes to entirely new ways of thinking about my work.

• My local coffee shop: Besides the benefits brought by a change of scenery I find myself in the company of a wide variety of minds in this informal, and well caffeinated, “office.” The sense of camaraderie and support I receive from my coffee community breathes fresh energy into my work. It is amazing to translate an architect’s perspective of workflow to the world of graphic communications. Plus, being present in my local community has helped me build out our company’s network of potential clients.

• Fellow Industry Colleagues: In my travels and business doings I have had the pleasure of meeting a plethora of talented and wise people. The ones that have offered me their ear and the wealth of their experience are as close as an email or phone call when I’m struggling. I often reach out when in need and always make sure to offer to return the favor whenever I could be of help. It is an excellent karmic investment in my professional community.

Indirect: These are more passive sources I use to revive my frustrated mind. These are mostly blogs and websites whose archives offer seemingly endless bits of inspiration. Not only are they in my RSS reader for daily updates but also on hand when I need to search for something more specific.

            • Lifehacker

            • Justin Kowinacki

            • Social Media Today

            • Seth Godin

            • Inc

            • Conversation Agent

            • Smashing Magazine

            • Sparkplugging

            • Wired

            • Signal vs Noise

While there are still some days where I find myself simply stumped for progress, let alone productivity, they are fewer and farther in between now that I have built my arsenal of home office helpers. Hopefully, you can find a little inspiration from my own experiences. And please feel free to leave comments I would love to help you directly when you may need a fresh perspective.