October 31, 2014

How to Keep Your Health and Sanity While Working From Home

sanity while working from home

Telecommuting is stressful. Running a full-time business from home is, perhaps even more straining. I know it and you probably do too.

Whether you’ve been doing it for a while like me, or you’re going to start working from home soon, below are some really useful tips on how to work from home without crawling the walls – and without “growing into your house” if you get what I’m saying.

Please keep in mind that most of the information you’re about to read is nothing ground-breaking. It’s from my own personal experience. Much of what I’ve learned while running my online business has been learned the hard way – by waking up out of a daze on several occasions and realizing that working from home is a “J.O.B.”

You have to treat your home-based business, or telecommuting job like you would a day at the office. You have things to do, and if they don’t get done, you don’t get paid. Plain and simple. If you can’t accept that fact, just don’t telecommute.

Keep Your Health and Sanity While Working From Home

I’m not going to tell you how to run your business in this article, rather I’m going to give advice on staying sane and healthy.

1. Get Up and Get Dressed

This might sound silly. Who doesn’t wanna roll out of bed and work in their pajamas?

The simple fact of the matter is that getting dressed has a psychological-boosting effect on your mind and body. Even if you don’t have clients or employees that come by the house, you have to put some clothes on.

It helps you to feel like a productive member of society. After a few days of sitting around in your pajamas, you’ll start to feel the walls closing in. Like you’re trapped and not allowed to leave the house. Cabin fever isn’t a phenomenon that only applies to any mountain men you may know.

2. Start Every Day Early and with Exercise

I bet you thought I was going to tell you to get up and eat a hearty breakfast, or to get your “to do” list together.

Nope, you have to do something physical to get your brain working and your metabolism fired up. Exercise stimulates serotonin (happy hormone) production and will give you a calorie-burning boost that will last several hours while you’re sitting in your desk chair.

One of the worst pitfalls that comes with working from home is feeling like you have a license to be lazy and sleep in.

“The early bird gets the worm” is still one of the most fundamentally true quotes. Don’t throw away that alarm clock, at least until you’re retired.

3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast and Start Planning Your Day

I would actually say that you should skip breakfast, but that would raise some controversies. So the best thing for you is to eat healthy breakfast. Keyword healthy: Eating lots of bacon in the morning is not necessarily a healthy way to start your day.

For some of you, this is going to be one of those expedited processes that you don’t allot much time to. That’s okay. Consider starting the day with a protein shake and a bit of oatmeal, or some other kind of slow-digesting carbohydrate meal. Lots of carbs are important for intense exercise, but will make you fat and your blood sugar levels soar if you’re not terribly physically active while you work.  (Yes farming is technically considered working from home, but this post refers to working within the four walls of a house.)

Elevated blood sugar levels strain your body and cause dizziness, elevate blood pressure, incite fatigue and cloud your thinking (proof.) None of these things will contribute to your well-being or effectiveness. As always, consult with a nutritionist on how to start your day with the right kind of breakfast.

While you’re making your meal and/or eating it, concentrate on formulating a brief outline of what you’re going to do for the day. Some people like to write these items down. This helps get you into a working mindset, without diving right in and feeling overwhelmed.

Don’t watch television during this time. It’s much more rewarding to do something you ‘want’ to do later, after work. By contrast, nothing feels worse than realizing an entire day, or even an all-important hour of work time got away from you because you got sucked into a morning talk show or movie.

4. Take 15 Minutes Every Two Hours

This is another tip that can be personalized to your own schedule and preferences. Perhaps you can go four hours comfortably without a break. Nonetheless, you have to take some time away from the computer or phone to unwind.

This is a great time to grab a healthful snack, jump on the treadmill, do some pushups or pullups, etc. A little exercise is great for getting the blood flowing, especially to your back and neck, which take a lot of abuse while sitting. Forum or social media posting is also good for a psychological boost, so long as it isn’t of the negative variety.

Don’t watch television, unless you have to watch the news for your job. Again, this can break your focus. It’s really crucial to keep on a schedule and to make sure that you’re working again within a short time period.

5. Wear Noise Reducing Headphones with Classical Music

When I have many tasks I need to get done quickly, nothing beats noise-reducing headphones. Those of you who can work with bombs going off around you might not benefit from this advice. But believe me, anyone who’s easily distracted needs noise reducing headphones.

I prefer classic or baroque music, anything without vocals. Non-vocal music has proven effects on improving productivity and the way your brain processes and develops information.

If you begin to incorporate even just a few of these methods into your workday, you’ll maintain a healthy balance.

Frustrated Photo via Shutterstock

27 Comments ▼

Ivan Widjaya


Ivan Widjaya Ivan Widjaya is the Founder/CEO of online marketing agency Previso Media, small business online magazine Noobpreneur.com and several other business blogs/online magazines. He is a Web publisher, Web property investor, blogger and Web property builder.

27 Reactions

  1. From my own personal experience, these are great suggestions. A routine needs to be established. Not every day is like a Sunday morning.

  2. These are great suggestions. Working from home is a blessing that not many have the opportunity. But whatever job you are in, work hard and do your best. Never be slothful, or you may go hungry.

  3. It will also help if you will change the pace every once in a while. You can do this by doing work at an office out of your home or some random computer shop or coffee shop. I know that might be quite costly but that has boosted my productivity in many instances.

  4. Hi Ivan,

    Thanks for the insights. Working from home seems to be a big issue for so many people.

    It’s one thing that’s never been a problem for me. I used to have more challenge staying focused in a corporate office setting. Too much gossipping and phones ringing, I guess.

    – Anita

    PS, smooth jazz instrumental music is also good to work to….

    • Anita,

      Working from home is not necessarily a problem, but yes – it can be a problem if we lose focus. Unfortunately, many of us do lose focus.

      I agree – working from an office is counter productive for me. I can relate to the gossiping: One of the reasons I leave 9-to-5 work arrangement on office is the fact that we gossip 2 hours a day, on social media 2 hours a day and work 4 hours a day – at 50% productivity, it’s no longer a good idea when it comes to productivity.

      • LOL to this:

        “…gossip 2 hours a day, on social media 2 hours a day and work 4 hours a day – at 50% productivity, it’s no longer a good idea when it comes to productivity.”

        Yep, that would seriously limit productivity!

        – Anita

  5. Cool tips. Thanks for sharing them, Ivan.

    I like waking up in my pyjamas and wearing them all day! I’ll try getting dressed one day this week though, to see how that feels.

    Sometimes I like to plan my day the night before. It keeps me focused as soon as I wake up the next day.

  6. Great article. Working from home is really like working in an office minus the traffic, time for travel and money spent on gasoline. I’ve been working from home for quite some time now with staff.com and I have been practicing some of these tips. Also, make sure that there is an open communication among other members.

  7. Ivan: I will print out your post and put it on my bulletin board. 15 minutes break every 2 h!

    • Martin,

      :D Yeah – I know it would be difficult to have a break when we have so many unfinished tasks and work in our head – and hands.

      One more tip: I’ve been working standing up in the past 1 months – and it boosts productivity; I feel healthier, too!

  8. And here is a great Infographic from InfographicDesignTeam.com that will give you some useful tips on how to overcome autumn depression http://visual.ly/say-no-depression-autumn

  9. Great article. I agree with all your suggestions and actually follow them myself every working day. While there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to working at home, once you get used to it you’ll never want to work in an office again! After 7 1/2 years as a telecommuter, I can honestly say that I’m much more productive at home than I ever was in an office environment. My employer uses a product called MySammy, which is cloud-based software designed to measure telecommuters’ productivity (www.mysammy.com). This is a great tool — not only does it let your employer know how productive you are during the course of a workday, but it gives you great motivation to keep focused on the job. No cyberloafing allowed!

  10. I’ve worked from home for the last eight years. When the weather is nice, I’ll take a 45 minute run usually for my lunch time. When it’s not so nice, I’ll just get out and walk the dog. I also treat myself to at least one excursion a day where I’ll either get the groceries or a coffee break.
    I couldn’t imagine not working from home now.

  11. Truly commendable post, highlighting the best ways to stay professional even from home, though working from home sometimes gets boring but keeping up the discipline with routine follow up on work, helps one to achieve success at all level.

  12. I enjoyed your suggestions but find that working at home can be pretty lonely. Any suggestions?

    • Sarah,

      Yes, it can be very lonely, indeed. When I don’t have my family members around, I opt for working in public places – coffee shops, shopping malls, etc.

      You can even work out of town – or out of country – if your business model permits :)

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