Staying Sane in Your Own Home

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Before you begin, working at home seems like the dream job. You can stay in your slippers, work when you want, and eat hot lunches without paying restaurant prices. Until you land the gig it seems like the best job in the world. Then you realize it’s a lot more like every other job.

After a while it can even make you start to yearn for the old water cooler again. It turns out that not all that glitters is gold. Working at home still requires you to work, and it requires you to make certain changes you wouldn’t need to worry about if you were punching a time card at the office.

Still, if you do it right, working from your home can be a great pleasure. It gives you more flexibility, saves you money on work expenses, and – if you’re a parent – lets you spend a little more time with your kids. Here are the three most important things you can do to keep your sanity and really make the most of your WAH experience.

1.     Get outside

The transition to working inside your home is a big one. You’ll go from spending forty hours per week (plus commutes and lunch hours) out in the world to spending them all in your own home or apartment. You can live your whole life indoors.

It’s important to break up your time before your home starts to look like a padded room. It matters little what you do once you pass through the door, but it is important to feel the sunshine, smell the grass, and hear the birds. It will help keep you balanced. Here are some of the activities I enjoy doing to break up my day:

  • Taking a walk
  • Eating lunch in the park
  • Dropping mail in the mailbox
  • Making a brief visit to a friend or family member
  • Bird watching

Those little reprieves are enough to make you feel new again.

2.     Establish firm working hours

This advice is useful because it works two ways. On one hand, it keeps your life from encroaching on your work. On the other, it keeps your work from creeping into your life! Whatever your work hours are, you should strive to keep them free of television, Facebook, and other distractions. Because you’re in your home, chores and household tasks like doing the dishes or washing the laundry might start to call out for your attention. Ignore them until the working hours are over.

This is a problem that I deal with because my fiancé, when she goes off to work, sometimes leaves me a list of things to do – appointments to schedule, laundry to fold, and so on. I think that she forgets that I’m not just lounging around watching movies all day. I’m at work! It’s vital to keep things separate.

3.     Use some of your money

When you work at the office (or some other outside-the-home location), home is your escape. But if the home is your office, then you need to find somewhere else to go. It can be deflating to work hard all day, then transition into “home life” without having anything change. It can also be deflating to feel like all of your efforts are leaving you trapped in the same place.

That’s why I think it’s a good idea to splurge a little bit. If you spend nothing else, budget out some of the gas and lunch money you’re saving by working from home, and use that for your entertainment.

If you can afford it, I recommend picking up a cheap hobby like bowling, photography, or miniature golf. Give yourself a reason to get out of the house at least once per week.

If you’re looking for even cheaper alternatives, check your local library’s website for free events, such as author lectures. Watch out for trivia and karaoke nights at local bars and restaurants. There are lots of excuses to get out of the house. Find them!

 

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Daniel Taylor

Daniel Taylor

Daniel is a freelance writer working out of his home in Secane, Pennsylvania. He likes eating cheesesteaks, listening to the blues, and reading great non-fiction. You can email him with questions or moral dilemmas at daniel@danieltaylorwrites.com

11 thoughts on “Staying Sane in Your Own Home

  • September 15, 2015 at 6:45 am
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    One of my favorite things to do after a long hard work week at home is to indulge in a nice dinner with my husband on Fridays or Saturdays. Then we would go to our favorite karaoke bar and sing the night away. It really lifts my mood and gives me extra energy to start the new week.

  • September 15, 2015 at 6:31 am
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    Working at home has a lot of advantages, but it also can be harmful to social life. I currently have that problem. I hardly ever go out and, even though I know I should, I tend to get lazy most of the time.

  • August 19, 2015 at 4:45 pm
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    I know some people are timid when it comes to working at home and still staying sane. A few friends of mine have enrolled their kids into after school programs that the school handles. The rates are much cheaper than average day care costs and the extra time allows the parents a little free time before the insanity starts back up again. It seems like a win-win.

  • July 19, 2015 at 9:18 am
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    I agree with getting out of your house for a bit or you go stir crazy. Take your lunch break outside or drive to the store. I like to walk around the neighborhood just to clear my head.

    I have to admit it is easier to cook and clean when I’m working at home. This is okay if you have rules about what hours you will work.

    • July 22, 2015 at 2:12 pm
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      I can see where you can get stuck in the rut of just continuing on with your work and not taking a break. That wouldn’t be healthy for your mind if it is done over the long term. Take a walk down the street and it will give you much needed fresh air and a break.

  • July 18, 2015 at 3:17 pm
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    My problem when working at home is that it doesn’t feel like a job, so I stop to clean house, or wash a load of clothes. Then, of course, I’m not productive at all. I have to tell myself over and over, that this is a real job. So my problem is not figuring out how to take time for myself, but actually, to stop taking time for myself!

  • June 23, 2015 at 10:12 am
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    Being trapped in the work at home office is a Debbie Downer, but like you said, there are ways around it. Sometimes I think people forget that an office can also be a different room at different times of the day. My office during the day is my work at home sanctuary but in the evenings it is a crafts room for the kids, my planning station for family trips and my quiet escape when I want to paint.

  • June 22, 2015 at 9:28 pm
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    Boy, you started off with the best (and most needed) advice. Too many people, myself included, end up slaves to the computer when we first get started working from home. At first, we’re frantically trying to generate the income we so desperately need and later, it’s often almost addictive to see the PayPal payment notices.

    Not only should you get outside for at least some time each day, it’s very important to take days off, just like when you were working an outside job. At least one full day a week, but two is better as it helps you recharge your mental batteries.

  • June 15, 2015 at 1:11 pm
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    I learned the lesson of carving out hours for work and lunch very early on. I used to work straight through and gobble down a quick lunch at my desk. When I began taking a proper lunch hour, I became much more productive because it provided a break and my brain was able to get some rest. It is very important to come up with a schedule that works best for you.

  • June 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm
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    When I began working from home, I didn’t have a set schedule for myself and because of that I didn’t have much success. Once I started setting aside time every day to devote to my work, I started doing much better. I wasn’t distracted by household tasks such as dishes, and I knew that once my hours were up I’d be able to take care of everything that needed to be done. A schedule really is the key to work at home success.

  • June 12, 2015 at 1:36 am
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    This is a great post and the part about going outside really hits home for me. Since working at home I have a hard time maintaining a good schedule. I def spent to much time indoors working. I am staying up late tonight to work on a organization calendar and I am sticking in days where I must be active. We shall see how it goes. With doing this I also hope to get some work hours going.

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