Working from home can be a real test of your personality and sanity. Even if you are quite happy in your own company, if you tend to work alone at home it is easy to go stir crazy – especially when you live alone too!

However, your sanity need not take a back seat for your career to progress – no really! – there are some simple methods you can use to stay sane, be happy and get the job done.

Set Working Hours to Your Clock

Unlike an office environment, you won’t have set working expectations at home. This means that you can sit in your pants and watch TV all morning before settling in for some more serious hard work through the afternoon and evening if this is when you are most productive. However, one of the main issues that those working from home encounter is ending up with irregular or weird hours.

Though setting your working hours to suit your most active times of day is sensible, if you are working until 10pm and then struggling to sleep, this might not be the healthiest routine for you. Even worse is when you end up working an hour here, ten minutes there and never settling into a routine.

Whatever your natural working pattern is, it is important that you at least set boundaries for your work. For example, if you want to be asleep by 11pm, it is a good idea to stop working by 9pm at the latest if you want to settle down before you try to sleep.

Have a Set Working Space

Having a single, tidy space where you can work peacefully is really important. Though the living room or kitchen might appeal, unless you have a nice desk space you can use in these areas, it is much better to have a separate room. The main problem with using a room you live in is basically the temptation to sort other things out. If you can see a mess, you will definitely want to deal with it.

A calm working area is always more conducive to excellent work. Closing the door on your home life – and then later closing it on your work life – creates the distinction you need to separate out the two parts of your life. Similarly, having everything you need within easy reach is a good idea. So, a pint of water is a good plan, together with a phone (that you can switch off when you need to concentrate) and all your necessary resources.

Learn to Motivate Yourself

In an office, there is always someone looking over your shoulder and seeing what you are up to. At home, you have the luxury of knowing that you have been browsing toasters online for the last half an hour without worrying about any judgement from others – though why you would be browsing toasters of all things with the whole internet at your fingertips, only you will ever know.

Some people do better when they are listening to music, others find that complete silence works best for them. Some people like to work solidly for an hour and then take a 20 minute break, others set intermittent deadlines and then reward themselves in different ways. You need to figure out what your working method is and then stick to it as best you can. The key thing is that you get everything you need to do done within a reasonable timeframe. Never leave difficult tasks to the last minute or take a spontaneous day off when you aren’t in the mood. Be a firm boss with yourself.

Remember How Lucky You Are

When you work from home, even if you have the perfect space, you are still well within your right to head out to your favourite cafe, get online and start working with a hot flat white by your side. You can choose the hours you work and fit in with your social life much better. You can decorate your workspace so that you have actual storage and brightly coloured posters and a window.

Lots of people spend their working life in a dull grey cubicle with a manager they resent and colleagues who don’t even bother to make small talk at the water cooler. You. Are. LUCKY!

Enjoy your time at home, smile every day as you have that first sip of coffee and open up your laptop. This is the good life and, once you have your sanity in hand with a bit of structure, you will soon realize that it doesn’t get much better than this.

Do you have strategies to cope with working form home or alone – share them with us and the community. Sign up to our newsletter to find out more about my Water-cooler Meetups – totally free and a forum for all to ask questions, advice or even – dare I say it – even to have a little rant with your peers- all sessions WILL NOT BE RECORDED or PUBLISHED anywhere on the internet – ever – its a private club and always free.


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Andrew Palmer
Andrew is the founder of Elegant Marketplace.