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Working from Home – GM34

As we practice social distancing, here are some home-based working habits for maintaining our sanity, productivity, and relationships.

Home-Based Working: Tips to Stay Sane and Productive

Home-Based Working in the New Normal

[0:00] – Introducing this episode of the Grey Matters podcast.

  • For many of us, home-based working is a new experience, due in large part to the need for social distancing.
  • Whether you’re freelancing or running a business from home, home-based working brings many challenges in being productive, maintaining your sanity, and maintaining your marriage or relationship, all from a home office.

[1:57] – Home-based work has become a necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • This experience is not exactly new, though, for people who have been used to freelancing or home-based work for the past decade or so.
  • It is increasingly unusual that the entire family is being quarantined together; thus, it’s important to set up rules and systems and set boundaries for home-based work to be possible. 

[5:27] – The one overriding recommendation from most home-based workers: Remain active, and find time to exercise.

  • Depending on where you are and what your situation is, make sure that you get some form of physical activity or exertion, whether it’s a short walk or working in front of a standing desk. 

[7:04] – Setting up some rules of engagement for family members will prevent you from getting frustrated with each other. 

  • Have a separate space where you can close the door in your working environment, and ask your family to respect the door that if the door is closed. 
  • However, for environments where you don't have a door, use another visual clue, such as a set of headphones.Related to that, you can also use music to facilitate your concentration.
  • While having those headphones in and playing the music should help enhance focus and concentration, it is also a way to combat distractions in your environment. 
  •  Setting up a comfortable work environment is crucial; perhaps a new office chair, a diffuser to create a nice aroma, or other enhancements can help, especially when you’re really getting into deep work.

[14:40] – There are also ways to address obstacles, or when you’ve hit a wall and can’t continue. However, this may end up leading you to the kitchen (and to overeating).

  • To prevent this, you can consider preparing your meals in advance and storing them, so that you can eat only at set intervals of the day and ensure that what you’re eating is healthy.
  • Start thinking about your food strategy as you’re working from the home office, and recognize that it is more of a challenge than you might have thought when you first started.

[17:12] – Dealing with focus and concentration is another issue.

  • A very common strategy is to get up, leave the house, go to a coffee shop with a notebook, sit down and have a coffee, and get back to work.
  • Having an accountability partner can also help. This is someone you can call on Zoom or FaceTime and work simultaneously with. The sound of someone else working may encourage you to keep your productivity up as well, and it also eliminates some of the social isolation.

[20:17] – Next is figuring out the routine that works best for you. 

  • Stick to some form of routine and regimen; try and work the same way day after day, because that muscle memory is important.
  • Give yourself the gift of that time that you used to spend commuting, and do something else (like reading a book). In this situation, the time you save is a gift that you can use for self-betterment.
  • A routine can change, especially when we consider all of the challenges we have with people being around. One of the best ways to counter this is with a timer or timing application that can keep you on track.
  • In some ways, you can look at this as an opportunity to re-engineer yourself: to learn some new skills and develop some new ways of being productive in a challenging environment.

[25:55] –  Lastly, we have to give ourselves a little bit more grace

  • With COVID-19, our society is grieving, both for loved ones and freedoms lost. Admittedly, we've also lost a little bit of our future in some very tangible ways. 
  • Constant bombardment from social media and news sources only adds to the noise and unrest in our heads. And for some of us, looking at the bleak state of the world can suck the joy out and render us incapable of productivity.
  • A really healthy exercise to undertake is to log off all social media and turn off your notifications while you’re in your focus period.
  • Also, reevaluate your news sources. Stick to trustworthy sources of information; stay updated, but don’t obsess over the news.
  • Find those little bits of joy in home-based work – those things that improve your quality of life – and lean into them; appreciate them and spend time thinking about them, rather than the challenges and frustrations that come with dealing with this new world that we are in for the foreseeable future.


I chose a long time ago to work from home, and have, over the years, developed a sytem that works for me.

For so many of you, the need to work from home is not a choice but an edict.

As we practice social distancing, we also need to practice new work habits to maintain our sanity, productivity and even our relationships while we work from home,

Here are some of my best tips, take them with the spirit intended, to help us all get through a difficult time.

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