How to Work from Home and Stay Sane: 10 Tips from a Remote Business

How to Work from Home and Not Lose Your Sanity: 10 Tips from a Fully Remote Business (for 9 Years Running)

by | Apr 6, 2020 | Thought Leadership

These are trying times for everyone.

COVID-19 is the biggest crisis we’ve faced since World War 2.

As of writing this, the number of infections has passed the one million mark.

Lockdown measures are enforced on a third of humanity.

School closures impact the education of 87% of the world’s student population.

In the business sector, there has been a sudden increase in the number of employees who work from home.

Yes, these facts are heavy-hitting. Chances are, you’ve been affected by the coronavirus crisis and are struggling to make sense of what’s going on.

Maybe your boss has ordered you to work from home.

What’s more, your kids’ school is closed and the young ones are around 24/7. They’re feeling grumpy, bored, and even act out more just from being stuck at home around the clock.

Ever felt this one? Suddenly you find yourself in the middle of the kitchen with a pile of dirty dishes to wash. The toddler is crying, and your teen is sulking in his room. It’s mid-afternoon, but you haven’t finished even a third of the work your boss assigned you.

What do you do?

Can you survive this lifestyle until lockdown ends?

What if things don’t get better soon, but worse?

If this sounds like you, take a deep breath. That’s it. In and out.

Then, start moving forward. In this blog, I’ll show you how to juggle working from home and taking care of the kids.

I’ll share the secrets I use to run five brands on a completely remote basis (for now, I’ve put two brands completely on hold to find margin and juggle it all with homeschooling now added to my to-do list).

You’ll find out:

  • How to be more productive than you ever were at the office
  • How to create the perfect workspace
  • What to do with the kids when you need to work
  • And more!

I’ve also gathered input from my team of expert writers, content strategists, and QA personnel who work entirely from home. Their suggestions and tips are gold because like all freelancers (except the superhuman ones who work passionately from dawn till dusk) they too once struggled with productivity.

So, are you ready to start turning things around?

Let’s begin!

What’s in this post:

The Top 10 Tips You Need to Work From Home without Going Insane

1. Remind Yourself it’s not the Weekend

2. Throw Your PJs in the Laundry Basket

3. Feel Free to Stretch and Look out the Window

4. Find Your Biological Prime Time

5. Send the Kids Away

6. Set Boundaries

7. Surround Yourself with Comfort and Beauty

8. Invest in Quality Tools

9. Keep Your Social Life Alive

10. Take Care of Yourself

Three Tips on How Businesses Can Help Their Teams Work from Home

1. Set Your Team Up with the Right Tools

2. Keep Communicating

3. Provide Training

Working from Home: Is it Possible to Do it without Going Insane?

These are trying times for everyone. Lockdown measures now affect 1/3 of humanity. If you're forced to work from home... now what? These 10 tips are here for you via the #WFH veterans at Express Writers ♥ Click To Tweet

how to work from home without losing your sanity

The Top 10 Tips You Need to Work Productively at Home without Going Insane

Unless you were homeschooled (I was! My life in a cult growing up meant I was homeschooled every day until 12th grade), you started following a structured lifestyle from the age of three.

Playgroup. Kindergarten. Elementary school. High school. College. Work.

Get up in the morning. Have breakfast. Go to school/work. Get home. Dinner. Homework/assignments from the boss. Watch TV. Sleep.

Yes, you groaned and complained about it (good-humoredly, of course). But the fact is human beings crave routine. It makes us feel secure. It helps us avoid the “unknown.” It satisfies us because it forces us to get things done.

So, what happens when our routine is suddenly removed? When we have to let go of our structured lives and face day after day of fluid time we don’t know what to do with?


But it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on to find out 10 secrets expert WFH’ers use to put their own structure on life.

How to successfully work from home

1. Remind Yourself it’s Not the Weekend

Feeling tempted not to set your alarm for Monday morning? After all, you don’t have to arrive at the office at 9am sharp.

Just do it. Just set that alarm.

“Working from home – luxurious or tedious? The answer – BOTH,” says Cassie, our team QA and content writer at Express Writers. “For someone who has never worked from home before, it can seem like a great time. However, it takes a lot of time, commitment and perseverance to get into a routine that works. Routine is the key word, because, without it, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything on your list of things to-do. Start by building a schedule that fits your work and family’s needs. Then STICK TO IT! No matter what.”

work from home tips from Cassie

Working from home - luxurious or tedious? The answer - BOTH. - Cassie, QA and content writer for EW. Read more tips and lessons from our 100% remote staff ‍ , now on the Write Blog. Click To Tweet

The key is to get structured.

  • Wake up at the same time each morning.
  • Make breakfast a special time for your family.
  • Set a specific schedule.
  • Don’t limit yourself to writing a To-Do list. Set a time for each item on the list.
  • Plan activities for the kids in advance. I love Khan Academy Kids and as resources for great activities that also educate.
  • Go to bed on time.

“Plan your day ahead, because you won’t have as much time available as you think,” says Lorien, our team’s client success agent based in South Africa. “Try to set a schedule for yourself during your ‘working hours’ so that you remain productive. If you spend a lot of time behind your computer, take regular breaks and get fresh air! And get up early still, because that will help you stay in a routine of sorts, and you’ll get more done if you get going as early as possible.”

Of course, leave Saturday and Sunday free to lounge as much as possible with a bag of Annie’s drool-worthy organic cheddar cheesy corn puffs (JK, I meant carrot sticks ).

2. Throw Your PJs in the Laundry Basket

What could be more luxurious than working in bed wearing your favorite silk PJs? Not a ton of things.

But if you want to be productive, you must dress the part.

For the last 20, 30, or 40 years, your body associated getting dressed with going to work or school. So, when you throw those PJs into the laundry and step into attractive work clothes, you’ll feel energetic and ready for the day.

Based on my personal experience, I’m not nearly as productive when I’m not dressed to go out. In fact, I even spend time doing my hair! Photo proof:

working from home selfies

Taking selfies with my books during quarantine.

“Get dressed and act as though you are going to work,” says Korilynn VanDyke, our content manager based in Utah. “While it is tempting to stay in your PJs or put on comfy sweats, getting dressed helps jolt your brain back into ‘work mode.’ That doesn’t mean you need to sit there in skinny jeans or a full out suit. I get dressed into my yoga clothes, but by at least getting out of the clothes from overnight and getting ready for the day, it wakes my brain up so I’m ready to get to work.”

work from home tips from Korilynn

#WFH tip from EW's content manager based in Utah, Korilynn ✅: Get dressed and act as though you're going to work. It's tempting to stay in PJs or comfy sweats, but getting dressed jolts your brain into work mode. Click To Tweet

3. Stop Often, Stretch, and Look out the Window (Use a Timer for Work Sprints)

Breaks are critical for keeping your sanity.

And even if you don’t go insane, you’ll end up less productive the longer you sit staring at your computer.

So, don’t forget to get up and stretch. Go eat an apple. Check up on the kids. Play with your fur baby.

I like to work in sprints. One thing that works excellently to guide those sprints are setting a productivity timer. Set your timer to 30 minutes. Once you press “start” throw 100% of your energy into your work.

When the timer reaches 30, stop what you’re doing even if you’re in the middle of a sentence. Go stretch for 5-10 minutes before sitting down and setting your timer for another 30 minutes.

This will keep your brain fresh, active, and creative.

I use this timer from Amazon:

Use a timer for work from home productivity

4. Find Your Biological Prime Time

Your biological prime time is the time of the day when your energy levels are highest and you’re super productive.

Of course, everyone has a different biological prime time. There are early risers, night owls, and those who work best in the afternoons.

“I cannot get any creative work done after 3 pm,” says Nikki, team expert writer based in the Philippines. “For me, the best time to work is between 9 am and 2 pm. But it’s different for everyone. The key is to find your personal prime time. Cut down on coffee and sweets, then take note of the hours you’re most energetic and productive. In a week, you’ll notice a pattern emerge. I actually know someone whose creative juices peak at 3 am!”

Once you’ve found your biological prime time, build a routine around it. Then stick to it no matter what!

5. Send the Kids Away (Kidding, Fluctuate Your Schedule to Be With Them)

Just kidding!

But seriously, if you have kids, working at home becomes 10x harder.

I know this because I have my own quirky 5-year-old daughter around the house. She’s curious, spontaneous, and sweet – the biggest distractions are those we love!

If you’re struggling to get work done with the kids around, here are three handy tips to get you started:

  • Plan activities for the kids. I’ll often have Jaina doing something fun or watching a movie while I’m working.
  • Make a deal with your spouse. Create a schedule that works great for both of you. At home, I have dedicated “working hours” in which my husband plays with Jaina while I focus on my to-do list.
  • Make use of technology. Like a ton of parents, you’ve definitely had that argument with your kids about screen time. But at a time like this, technology is your friend. So, if the kids are feeling lousy and grumpy, why not plop them down in front of the TV with a tray of healthy snacks and their favorite Netflix cartoons—and don’t feel an ounce of shame about it. Goal: survive during lockdown. ✅
Don't feel shame about plopping the kids down in front of the TV during the day while you #workfromhome. The goal is to *survive* during lockdown. You're doing your best ♥ Click To Tweet

6. Set Boundaries

Working from home is tough on your relationships.

For example, your relationship with your spouse can become strained if you’re with each other 24/7. I’ve been there!

Sad fact: home quarantine due to COVID-19 has caused a spike in divorce cases in China.

But things get easier once you set boundaries. Remind your family you must work (10x a day, if necessary!). Set an “off limits” rule once you enter your work zone. Then, do the same for them.

Once you set a schedule with boundaries for everyone, your home life will flow as smoothly as a well-oiled machine.

7. Surround Yourself with Comfort and Beauty

“You now have the freedom to pick your work desk location – yay!” says Danielle, our team content specialist based in France. “Decide on the best work spot for you that gives you comfort and privacy, if possible. Try moving your desk next to a window so you can easily look away from the screen when you need to think or when your eyes need some rest. If you’re going to do a lot of video conferences, pick a good spot where you can easily set the background with some books, plants, and art pieces. Also, remember to keep your area clutter-free. Have the necessary or handy items like office files, sticky notes, and your planner within arm’s reach.”

Create a workspace you’re excited to enter.

Also, create a workspace that’s comfortable. For me, comfort boils down to these amazing products.

Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links. If you buy from them, I’ll get a percentage of the price with no extra charge to you. Don’t worry, though. I never recommend anything I don’t love.

A. Ergonomic Office Chair

Working from home? choose an ergonomic office chair


With this amazing chair, I can spend eons sitting at my desk and not suffer shoulder pain, back pain, and joint stress.

B. Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair

How to work from home and stay fit


Don’t want to get a flabby core with sitting down all day? Tone up with Gaiam’s yoga balance ball chair! I alternate between using this one and my ergonomics office chair.

C.  Luxor 40″ Single Column Crank Stand Up Desk

how to work from home and save your posture

I love this desk because the manual adjustment feature allows me to work either standing up or sitting down.

My stand-up desk is currently all the way up in this picture. Setting: A very rainy Texas day.

Remember, the secret to achieving flow is to switch things up. You don’t always have to work in your office (I certainly don’t).

In fact, we have four workspaces in our house. There’s one in the corner of the kitchen, one in the corner of our king suite bedroom, my dedicated office, and our (converted) guest bedroom that is now a media room.

You don’t need a huge house to accomplish this. Simply set up little nooks as “workspaces” throughout the house and switch things up when your energy levels and creativity drop.

@JuliaEMcCoy has a few essential #workfromhome tools: her ergonomic desk chair, @Gaiam balance ball chair (she switches between the two), ergonomic keyboard ⌨, and stand-up desk . Grab the links + more #WFH tips Click To Tweet

8. Invest in Quality Tools

“You need tools that make working exciting,” says Dara, QA and content specialist at Express Writers. “Trust me, you do need incentives, especially if you’re a freelancer. For me, tools and measures I took were getting a fancy keyboard, multi-monitor setup, an ergonomic chair, a playlist of electronic music in the background, and a standing table to stretch my back when tired of sitting.”

Tips for working from home from Dara

Here’s a list of my personal favorite tools.

A. Kinesis Freestyle2 Ergonomic Keyboard w/ VIP3 Lifters for Mac (9″ Separation)

ergonomic keyboard for working from home


I use this one for my 7-hour typing sprints, and I come away without a trace of hand pain!

 B.  Logitech MX Vertical Wireless Mouse – Advanced Ergonomic Design Reduces Muscle Strain

how to work from home and avoid finger strain


This mouse is super attractive plus easy on the fingers.

9. Keep Your Social Life Alive

Humans are social creatures, and too much time in isolation leads to irritability and depression.

So, make it a point to get on a Zoom call with your colleagues. If you don’t have to check in with people you work with, spend time on social media or chat apps with friends.

“Working from home is wonderful, but it can also be quite challenging – especially if you’ve recently just transitioned from a social environment,” says Kira, our content strategist based in Wisconsin. “Remember to take time for yourself when needed and keep contact with your social circles. It can really help! Also, use all the available channels for chatting with any coworkers you might have as that helps create a sense of teamwork even when remote.”

10. Take Care of Yourself

This tip is #10, but it’s actually the best place to start. I’ve saved it for last because I want it to be the #1 thing you get out of this.

A. Eat Right

I can’t stress this enough.

Don’t eat junk food. When you feed your body with sugar, GMOs, processed foods, and a ton of grease, you’ll end up feeling sluggish and exhausted.

Of course, you can’t transition into a full-time vegan overnight. But cutting out sweets and unhealthy snacks and adding in fruits and greens to your diet will greatly transform your energy levels.

B. Drink, Drink, and Drink!

I mean water, of course.

If you want to keep track of the amount of water you drink per day, try the motivational water bottle I use.

Remember to hydrate while you work from home


3 Tips on How Businesses Can Help Their Teams Work from Home

If you’re the business owner and your team is feeling jumpy and confused about working from home, follow these three steps.

1. Set Your Team Up with the Right Tools

You’ll need to capitalize on daily communication with your team. So, aside from your usual cloud-based tools, set your employees up with quality task management, employee feedback, and communication tools. We love Slack as a day-to-day messaging tool.

2. Allow Your Team to Be Autonomous

Jason Friedman of Basecamp said it best: Have your people be a “manager of one.”

Guess who they’re managing?

…That’s right. Themselves.

It’s an excellent idea to give employees the trust and allowance to set their own schedules. Base performance on their productivity, not on how many hours they spent on their computers.

However, schedule regular team meetings. This will keep everyone on the same page and give motivation to those who are feeling the effects of isolation.

Work from home tips from Julia

3. Check-In With Your Team

This doesn’t have to be in real time. We have an #offtopic thread in Slack where I check in every few days for updates on our worldwide remote team. “How is COVID-19 affecting you right now?” We keep the conversation going, and we check in consistently with each other. It builds that sense of rapport, and, let’s face it—we’re all human.

3 tips on how businesses with teams can #workfromhome - 1) Get your team the right tools like @slack or @mondaydotcom 2) Let your team be autonomous 3) Check in with them often (off-topic chats in Slack encouraged) Click To Tweet

Working from Home: Is it Possible to Do it without Going Insane?

Even before COVID-19, a ton of people started moving towards working from home. And after the crisis ends (because it will, since this too shall pass), it’s predicted that there will be a major and permanent shift towards home-based work.

So, why not start today and learn how to be productive and successful while working from home?

If you’re a business owner and you want to know how to keep your business thriving amidst COVID-19, don’t forget to read How Today’s Pandemic Is Impacting Business & Marketing + 5 Ways to Keep Thriving.

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