How to work from home and not lose your mind

Dominique Ellis

A while back, we had a guest post from Sarah Becker Llillard on how to work from home and stay productive. Recently I’ve started working from home as well and have had to come up with a few additional rules to keep myself from turning into an isolated zombie everyday (it’s happened before). Here’s what I’ve come up with thus far.

Get Dressed. Duh.

Dominique EllisIf this doesn’t top any how-to-work-from-home list of rules then they’re doing it wrong. If you don’t want to feel like a non-human by 3pm everyday you simply have to get up, shower and get dressed like you’re going to an actual office. It’ll get your brain in ready-mode for the day and you won’t hate yourself when you look in the mirror at lunchtime.

.Trick Yourself

Dominique EllisThe first rule is a great one but it can be hard to adhere to when all you want to do is move from bed to the desk in your comfy PJs. So to avoid this trap I trick myself. I’ve stopped stocking coffee in my house (pause for dramatic effect). Let me stipulate that it is impossible for me to start my day without coffee. So every morning I have to get up and get dressed, enough to look acceptable in front of strangers, and walk to the coffee house up the road. This way I’m ready for the day, I have my sweet caffeine in hand and my dogs get their morning outing. Win Win Win.

Mark Your Territory

Dominique EllisI live and work in a studio. Granted it’s a bit larger than your average studio but at the end of the day I’m sleeping, working, eating and anything-ing in the same room. To keep it from feeling like the walls are closing in on me I have strict rules about what happens where in my space. Rule 1: The bed (made every morning, no exceptions) is only for sleeping. I never sit on it to do work or anything during the day. Otherwise the urge to take a cat nap is far too great. Rule 2: My work desk is just that – only for work. No internet surfing or online shopping allowed when I’m seated there. Rule 3: The couch is off limits until 5pm. You get the idea. Basically, I recommend marking each spaces’ usage clearly and stick to it. This way you won’t feel like your daily housekeeping chores and work are bleeding together.

Have Dedicated “Out Of Office” Hours

Dominique EllisIf you work from home, and especially if you work for yourself, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the time-is-money mantra. Every second you’re not working could be money lost. It’s important to give your mind and body a break though. Believe me, working and living in the same space makes this all the more needed. Dedicate an hour each day (or whatever time you can) for non-work tasks like taking out the trash or cleaning the kitchen. Also, I highly recommend taking a whole day off each week. A novel idea, I know, but many entrepreneurs do not do this for themselves and it’s so important. You need a day with  no work, no emails, no extra curricular activities. Just sleep in. Read. Cook. Get day drunk over brunch. It’s your day off – live it up! Your brain will be refreshed and ready to dive back into work the following day.

Make Working After Hours Tolerable

Dominique EllisFor freelancers and those who are self-empolyed the notion of a 9-5 workday is laughable. Late nights and weird schedules are the norm. Since the distance between where I work during the day and where I pull late night shifts is literally 5 feet I like to make my evening work hours more enjoyable and relaxed. Grab your laptop and a drink and move to the couch (it’s after 5pm after all). Put something on the TV that’s calming and entertaining but won’t take your full attention to enjoy. I recommend the BBC’s Planet Earth series (currently on Netflix!). The narrator’s voice is incredibly smoothing, it’s educational, and most of all, gorgeously shot. Looking up from that excel sheet will be a treat and you’ll feel less like you’re working yourself to death. (The Seasonal Forests episode is the best because of the ducks. Just trust me on this one.)


 This post originally appeared on, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued.