Are you an introvert or an extrovert? If you’re anything like me, you find this to be an incredibly interesting topic of discussion and also an important one. Figuring out which one you are can be an incredibly empowering revelation. Some may think the determining factor depends on how much you like to talk to people – and that can be a consideration. Energy can be another determining factor. If you’re not sure if you’re an introvert or extrovert, use this guide from Myers-Briggs to help determine which one you might be, here. I happen to know many entrepreneurs on either side of the spectrum are shifting their focus to online events and working from home vs in person events or commuting to the office due to the CoronaVirus.
Along with this chaos, many people have been quickly forced to cancel travel or work from home with personalities that may or may not be suited for that type of work environment. As an extreme extrovert, lucky for me and 4,300 other conference goers, Social Media Marketing World held in San Diego March 1-3 decided that the show must go on! This is where I met Dorien Morin-Van Dam of More in Media who wrangled in her closest remote working entrepreneur friends to give their best tips to survive this recent shift in an article titled, “Remote Work: How to Keep Sane in a World Gone Crazy.” This made me think back to 2014 and my struggles as a very extroverted new entrepreneur. I’m ecstatic to share with you how I survived starting a business at home, alone (remind you of the movie?!) along with tips for remote working extroverts and how coworking changed the game for me.
As I mentioned, being an extrovert myself, my struggle with working from home was very real. In 2014, I quit my 14 year career with Verizon Wireless, most recently as a Retail Store Manager, surrounded by many employees and customers on a daily basis, to stay at home with my newborn son. I told my story on a recent podcast interview. If you’d rather hear it, you can listen here and skip the next two paragraphs. I was one of the lucky ones ready to fulfill my dream as a stay at home mom. Well, that bliss lasted about 6 months but the guilt and shame that went along with realizing that it actually wasn’t a good fit for me went on for much longer. What I realized is that being a stay at home mom, for me, included many days of, exactly that, staying at home which can get very isolating. And as an extrovert, getting your energy from being around people – is a complete nightmare! That’s when I told my husband, I want to work but I don’t want to go back to my retail job, with long, late hours and many weekends. He said, “Ok! How about you start a business!” But what business would I even start? Then he asked me what I am passionate about? My first thought was, that’s a GREAT question! I have no idea! Then I thought about what I did on a daily basis to keep myself busy at home with my son and came to the conclusion that I was really passionate about coupons and saving money! Within 2 days, I had a website with a blog, an email address and a business name – CouponingWorks! I spent every extra moment during nap times and lazy weekends typing away on my computer creating blog posts for my website to teach people what I knew about getting household products at Target for pennies on the dollar and even earn money back with money-saving apps. It was fun! But this extrovert was still working at home, alone, longing for human connection. Until I discovered social media.
In 2014, Facebook had been around for awhile (created in February, 2004) and Instagram was still pretty new (created in October, 2010). I needed a way to help more people with my newly formed business, connect with more people and to interact as much as I could while at home with my baby. This is exactly why I turned to social media. Until that point, I was on Facebook, but I wasn’t super active. I would post monthly updates of my son which was always popular. Then one day I decided I loved social media so much I wanted to make a business out of it. This after I experienced how a business can benefit from these social media platforms. All the stars aligned, as the universe always does, and my current business was born, Capitalize Social Media, and everyone wanted my help! I thought, this is it! I found my calling! I can be social online and have an even better reason to socialize in person. And at this point, I was going out to networking events (my favorite!), talking to more people about what I had learned from social media and connecting with a ton of people online. Then, in 2018 I found Social Media Marketing World. A colleague suggested I apply to volunteer for the upcoming conference here in San Diego in March, 2018 and I did! At that point, my life had changed, I found a community of entrepreneurs that were just like me! This conference is an extrovert’s dream come true! But I STILL didn’t feel fulfilled working from home.
So I really spent some time digging into how I can thrive while working from home as an extrovert (or even an introvert) and this is what I found:
1. Plan your work (and breaks!) Write out your schedule for the day in 1-hour time blocks. I found that if I worked 50 mins out of each hour, saving 10 mins at the end of each time block, I felt much more creative going into the next time block.
2. Schedule in time to chat with friends. In an office environment, extroverts have the luxury of running into a coworking in the hallway or at lunch and having a quick chat to get in a much needed human energy recharge. At home, you don’t have that – so you have to create it. If you have a conference call, schedule 10 mins after the call with a friend or coworker just to chat. Or schedule a chat with a friend!
3. If this continues on, or you find yourself as a permanent remote worker or entrepreneur – find a coworking space! I’ve been a member of Hera Hub, a spa-inspired coworking space for women, for the past 2.5 years and having the option to work outside of my home and surround myself with like-minded entrepreneurs does wonders for the mental health of an extrovert! I recently told my story on the Flight Club Podcast, hosted by Felena Hanson, the founder of Hera Hub. You can listen to it here.
4. And this one is for everyone: Do not forget to eat lunch at your normal lunchtime!
Digging into work can make time fly by! You might even realize it’s 2 pm all of a sudden the hunger pangs hit! For me, eating a late lunch is especially inconvenient since soon after it’s dinner time and I’m making a meal that I’m not even hungry to eat! Most of this comes down to planning. And I hope that knowing this in advance, as your first time working from home as an extrovert, you can avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced.
After years of trials and tribulations, I finally figured out just the right mix of work and human connection to keep my energy up and I hope you can, too! Whether your remote work is temporary or long-lasting, there are ways that you can make the most of it, regardless of your personality type! The moral of the story and my life mantra, “Look for the good and you will find it, and then some.”