7 Tips To Keeping Your Sanity Working From Home

by Robb Sutton

Working from home rocks. There are no bones about it. In my life, I have done the years of the hour commute to the office everyday and there is nothing worse. By the time I got home, the frustration level of the work day and traffic about had me through the roof. It is amazing that my wife even married me through that time. So for those of you that are still in that and looking for a way out…I completely feel you and hope you find a way to get some sanity soon.

Ironically, working from home also has its share of struggles and adaptations that make it not suitable for everyone. There are certain major advantages like the zero commute, limited work interruptions that make you crazy efficient and the ability to get up and get a snack when ever you want to.

However, there are certain aspects of the work at home experience that take some serious adjusting like the lack real people interaction, general boredom and not seeing daylight as often. So…we have to look for ways to keep our sanity while capitalizing on the fact that we don’t have to go into an office everyday.

Here they are…the 7 tips…

I put together these tips in an attempt to help others, but to also remind myself to act on them to keep my own craziness at bay.

  1. Get A Dog – Seriously…any pet will do really that will actually acknowledge you when you speak to it. I can’t tell you how many times my two boxers have been there during the day so I just don’t get lonely. The house can get very quiet day in and day out, so something that looks up at me and wags its tail several times a day goes a long way.
  2. Take Regular, Scheduled Breaks – I schedule them just as if I were in an office that had lunch hours or any other break from work. You can get into a rut of working through lunch and losing track of time in your house. In the beginning, I would find myself eating lunch at 3 or 4 just because I got into a grind and forgot to stop. If it is nice outside, walk outside. You don’t have anything to really look at but keeping in touch with the outside world is essential.
  3. Plan Your Day – Write a list of things you have to do every day and stick to them. I remember back in college, I would always leave my apartment to study. I found I was a lot more efficient out of my home than in. If you are working from home, you don’t always have that option so the best way to stay productive is to check things off of a list. When you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder to see if you are checking Facebook instead of working, there is more of a tendency to slack off and watch the hours pass.
  4. Work Out of the House Every Now and Then – I’ll pack everything up and work at Starbucks (or anywhere else with free wifi) every now and then. It is just a nice change of scenery that allows you to gain perspective back. Even if you aren’t talking with people, the ability to be out with people can go a long way mentally. Luckily, my business allows me to do this, but if yours doesn’t…maybe just block off time to get out.
  5. Keep the House Clean – While you are probably working hard all day (or at least acting like it), make sure when your wife/girlfriend/roommate/whatever comes home that the house is clean. If they do not work at home, they will not understand how you were so busy that you could not put your plates away and clean up the kitchen a little bit. Doing a little bit extra around the house since you are home and they aren’t goes a long way for a happy house overall.
  6. When It Is Time To Clock Out…Clock Out – Even for those of us that own our business (and for those that work for companies outside of your timezone), when it hits quitting time, stop working. Just because you work from home, that does not give an employer the right to work you 24 hours a day. If you own your business, you also don’t have to keep everything rolling 24/7. The people you work with should be quitting at some point in time as well. Enjoy home as a home when you are supposed to.
  7. Create an Office – Even if it is just a corner of the room, make a dedicated space that is your office and that is its only purpose. DO NOT use the kitchen table as your work space. Not only will you have to clean it up every night for dinner, but then you are making your living space your office and that is not a good thing for you mentally.

Those are the things I have done at home that have seemed to help a lot during the day/week/year. If you have any others you think should be added, hit up the comments section and let me know. I am always looking for more ideas!

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Bob Findlay January 27, 2012 - 10:30 pm

Great advice, Rob. Not so sure about the dog, though. How about native possums, kookaburras & other semi-domesticated wildlife in out back yard? 😉

Robb Sutton January 27, 2012 - 10:31 pm

Do they react when you talk to them?!

Bob Findlay January 27, 2012 - 11:31 pm

If running away is reacting, then “Yes.”….but children are much more fun, as you are no doubt finding out every minute. 🙂

Robb Sutton January 27, 2012 - 11:35 pm

Yes they are. Changes life for the better for sure!

Ray January 28, 2012 - 3:04 pm

Great post, a healthy environment is mandatory if you’re going to stay home working. It’s like going to work in an unfriendly environment, that only makes you uncomfortable with your surroundings. As for a pet, i recently bought a pompom and hes kind of distracting me while i write. But I’m taking the time to train him so he can atleast be potty trained!

Robb Sutton January 28, 2012 - 10:15 pm

Ok…I have to ask. What is a pompom?

Bob Findlay January 28, 2012 - 11:22 pm

A pompom, to my (Scottish) way of thinking, is the woolly ball that goes on top of ‘flat-caps’….or as dog pacifier.

Ray March 17, 2012 - 2:21 pm

pompom is short for pomeranian

Tony Grogan January 28, 2012 - 4:24 pm

Dedicated office space is essential. It can be a seperate building, room, corner, etc, or even a “portable office”. I once bought a small utility building which I insulated and finished inside to make an office space. I have also successfully implemented a portable office, consisting of a laptop, lapdesk and a rolling file cabinet. When not “at work” the office could be put away. I am now, unfortunately, stuck back in cubical world.

Robb Sutton January 28, 2012 - 10:16 pm

Ah…cubical world. Not the best of circumstances but it is good to be working than not. The portable office is a great idea!

Keith January 29, 2012 - 1:46 pm

Everything but the pet…. too much trouble for me 🙂

I work from home, and probably have the hardest time “clocking out”… here it is Sunday morning…..

Robb Sutton January 29, 2012 - 1:48 pm

And here I am on Sunday morning responding… 😉

Jim April 12, 2012 - 3:54 pm

Good post, I have been working from home for about 3 yrs and I would add one piece of advice: “Don’t be ‘pajama guy’ “. Get up in the morning and shower/shave/dress for work. Otherwise you just spiral down into that unshaven guy still wearing sweatpants at 6:30pm


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