6 Ways to Work from Home & Stay Sane

I’m a Social Media Strategist who works from home. While I love working in my pajamas and bathrobe, things can get a little, well, dicey if I never go outside and see that yellow orb they call the sun. Here are some things that have helped me to stay sane and still get my work done.

Keep a Strict Starting Time for Work.

For me, that means I have had my breakfast and am sitting at my desk by 8:00 a.m. Usually a little before. I can still have coffee, but the breakfast has been cooked, eaten, and the dishes are rinsed.

Don’t Be a Slave to the Phone.

This is a really tough one because people often think that if you work at home, your time is their time. Not so fast! If you don’t pick up that phone, the next time they go to call you, they might think twice. You can return those calls later when you have time.

Schedule Breaks.

Frankly, I’m not very good at following my own advice here. But every hour, you should get up and stretch. Some people say more often. On the days I take more breaks, I feel better and get more done.

Get out and See People.

Now if you’re at all introverted, you may be resistant to this piece of advice. Even so, I’ve noticed that I feel much more lighthearted if I see two people face-to-face every single day.  Sophia Dembling, author of “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy Word” agrees. A trip to the gym (if you actually talk to people there) counts. The other might be coffee or lunch date with another home-based friend. Maybe you’re fine with only one visit outside the office per day, but figuring out how much “face time” you need is the important take-away concept.

Know When to Fold ‘em.

That’s corny, but you do need to know when to quit. As in, before…

  • your fingers start bleeding from typing too much.
  • your eyes are crossed and your contact lenses are all dried out because you stopped blinking 3 hours ago.
  • you can’t finish a sentence because you’ve been working for too many hours.

You get the idea. If you work on or around social media, stopping is difficult because there’s always “one more tweet.” The Huffington Post article “Facebook Addiction” chronicles some of the telltale signs. Don’t be that person who loses sleep because you have to be social all the time. Go to sleep.

Own a Cat.

Or a dog. Or a tortoise. Or some little creature that makes you smile every once in awhile. My cat, Purrsilla, will dangle her paws onto my keyboard when I’ve done just about enough typing, thank you very much. Sometimes she’ll send me a message. It will say something like “[[[[[[[[[uuuuuuuuuu99999”. I’m pretty sure that means something in cat language. (Get up and feed me?)

What Helps You Keep Your Sanity?

Maybe you have something that helps you keep your sanity. If you do, I’d really like to know. No, really! I’m still trying to figure out how to work from home. And stay sane.

Comments

  1. Jody Yarborough says:

    I work from home, too, so I feel ya. A couple of things I do: leave the TV off… it can lead to major procrastination. Another problem I have at home is I often can be distracted by domestic chores. So what I often end up doing is having JUST an office day, or JUST a home/errand day. Trying to both in one day can lead to a lot of stress and lack of real progress. And yes, I definitely agree with you that taking breaks, and finding any small way to be social is important. Thanks for the great post, Carol, and the opportunity to share 🙂

    • Jody, yes, the TV can be extremely distracting. I usually carry headphones around with me if I’m working away from home, too, to keep the noise out. Dirty dishes don’t distract me as much, for some reason. 🙂 What you’re saying goes back to NOT multitasking. Multitasking seems to lead to nothing but trouble. Taking breaks is so important, and yet so overlooked, too. Thanks again for stopping by, Jody! I really appreciate it.

  2. HA! I need a “Six Ways to Work At Work and Stay Sane” version. Although I believe the breaks cross over nicely.

  3. Great article, I can relate to the regular breaks and we have a cat which is a great substitute for a walk down the corridor to the water cooler and chat with work mates.

    I’m in an area where it’s not practical to get out and talk to people so I’ve got a classic car project going to get me out of the house and into the garage for an hour a day, that helps a lot.

    • Hi David, Hobbies are a great source of sanity in areas where meeting people is difficult. Best of luck with your classic car project and thank you for taking the time to comment! ~Carol

  4. I like all of these except the pet thing; nope, ain’t happening. lol I’ve worked for myself for 11 years now, had ups and downs, and the one thing I’ve had to learn was how to step away and catch a breath every once in awhile before I totally crash and burn. I now schedule breaks & take myself out for lunch here and there; it helps keep me sane.

    • Hi Mitch! What?! No cat for you? That’s unbelievable! But sounds like you have learned how to take care of yourself before you’re too overworked. The breaks are absolutely essential when you work at home. Sometimes it’s tricky turning off one’s brain after working all day. Thank you for commenting! I appreciate it. Carol

  5. Excellent advice and for the most part, I follow it, especially the cat part. I have two Burmese that sleep under a heating lamp right next to my computer. It’s nice to glance at them when I feel my blood pressure rising.

    • Hi Donna! My cat, Purrsilla, sleeps right under a lamp on the desk, too. She loves the heat. If I don’t give her a spot to the side, she sits right in front of me on the calendar! Those Burmese sound adorable! Thanks for stopping and commenting. I appreciate it.

  6. I am just recently beginning my work at home business adventure after having been laid off in the holiday downsizing – and I’m actually quite enjoying how structured I can make my work day. One of the biggest complaints I had at my old job was how unstructured it was (which probably led to the downsizing) but as my own boss I find that this list perfectly represents my similar mindset. Well written and great advice, thank you!

    • Thank you, Lucy. I find that the more structured I am, the more productive. And I don’t worry so much about what I’m going to do on any given day because of having structure. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! I appreciate it!

  7. I hear you on all of this! You are more disciplined than I am, that’s for sure!

  8. Carol – I loved both blogs – thank you so much. I do not sit down at my desk until all the breakfast dishes are washed. Boys on the bus – wash dishes – grab a cup of tea and sitting at my desk. I do need to take more breaks – thanks again for the reminder – Darcy

    • Hi Darcy, It’s amazing how much ritual we all have built into our days. The structure of having the dishes done and the boys on the bus really help. Taking breaks is always an issue. Thank you for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it. ~ Carol

  9. Get out and see people! That is the right one for me. As a software developer working primarily from home, I completely agree with you. Thank you for your blog-posts. Always a good read and straight to the point.

    • Hello Awesome Devdesigner, Yes getting out and seeing people every day helps to keep me sane, too. Twice a day is about right here. What about for you? Thanks for taking the time to comment! I so appreciate your taking the time! Sincerely, Carol

  10. I use a timer for 30 minutes of focused effort on a task, then take a 5 minute break. Made me realize we can fall into a workpace set point and dont realize how much time we waste.

    • Hello Michael,

      Isn’t that the truth? On social media, in particular, it’s so easy to fall down that rabbit hole of not knowing where the time goes. The 30 minutes on, 5 minute break is a great model! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Sincerely,
      Carol

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