A growing portion of the people that read this site work from home because they want to build their own business, be closer to family, or just explore a new and modern career path on the Internet.
But working from home is a completely different experience from working in an office, and when you do it for the first time you can find the adjustment a little bit difficult.
I have been lucky enough to work full-time from home for almost a decade now, and in that time I’ve learned a few things the hard way. Today’s post, however, is going to be about one specific lesson that I think is extremely important.
Make sure you read to the end for something fun!
Working from home is a bit like this…
If you run your own business or just work from a home office then there’s a good chance your day looks a lot like this…
And while it’s a huge privilege to run my own company from a nice quiet desk with a lovely little cat, there is something equally important that so many of us completely neglect.
In fact, if you don’t do this one thing enough, it can lead to some serious and long term consequences for both your business and your health.
So what is it that we should all do more often?
Turn. Off. The. Computer. Go. Outside.
Over the last few years it’s become so important for me to the point where I make a set time each week where I shut everything down and go on a trip somewhere out in the trees, sun and fresh air for at least a few hours.
You see, working from home often means that you work longer hours than a normal job.
The day isn’t structured into a 9-5 regiment, you often don’t take breaks, and starting your own business can mean you go months and months without holidays or proper daily socialization.
I’m going to prove it to you later on in this article, but it is so important to turn off the computer regularly and get outdoors in nature… we are human beings, not robots.
It might just be a walk with your dog at a beach where you can re-charge and get some perspective on your stress levels…
Or a quick drive down with the family to look at the ocean and the sun set as a reward for a hard day’s work…
Or maybe it’s a few days away once a year so you can sit and ponder and just deliberately do nothing, something that not many of us are good at doing anymore…
For me, I love to go on big long hikes where I can get my heart rate up, soak up some sunshine, and spend a good part of the day looking at the local animals, exploring in the forest, and really just forgetting about work completely…
And if you work in a team, this can be a really great way to boost morale, solidify friendships, and brainstorm work ideas without feeling like you’re stuck in an office…
It’s also a fantastic way to catch up with a friend when you’re both busy because you can socialize while also getting some exercise and de-stressing at the same time…
The natural world has an incredible (and scientifically proven) way of healing the body and the mind, especially for people like us who might not get enough natural light, movement or time with other human beings…
Let me prove to you how important it is…
The big downsides to working from home
One of the first things that most people notice when they work from home is that they either love or hate the isolation.
Some people find it extremely peaceful and conducive to concentration, while others find it lonely and depressing.
Either way, there are some important things to keep in mind if you shift from an office to working for yourself, particularly if you’re alone.
- Isolation can be devastating for your health
Firstly, humans are social animals and there are a lot of well-supported studies showing the benefits of being around other people. Working alone from your home means you often go days without interacting meaningfully with anyone except maybe your barista. That’s fine in the short term, but over time it can cause from problems.
- Vitamin D deficiency can cause depression, fatigue and illness
Vitamin D deficiency is a problem the world over, but especially for people who live in colder climates that have long winters, and for people who work indoors all day long. I had a serious deficiency a few years ago that left me feeling surprisingly crummy. I now make it a priority to ensure this aspect of my life is taken care of.
- Sitting still can literally kill you
The last few years has seen a remarkable amount of research come out showing how dangerous sitting still is for human beings. Too much sitting can lead to poor heart heart, damaged posture, and even an increased risk of cancer. Some experts have called it the new smoking. Unfortunately, exercise at the end of the day doesn’t undo the damage, so you have to be regularly active.
- Stress is more dangerous than people think
Again, more and more research is coming out showing that stress is actually one of the most dangerous things in our lives. It affects long term health, daily well being, and it can have serious impacts on your productivity and the relationships in your life. Working from home on your own business can be stressful, and it’s important to keep an eye on the symptoms and causes – isolation and late nights are often two of them.
So what’s the good news in all this?
Well, the good news is that there is a growing body of research suggesting that spending time out in nature can help your health, your memory and even prevent things like depression, even in chronic cases.
What is really interesting about all this is that those effects often aren’t shown for regular walks in the city – although they have their own set of benefits – actually being out near trees and water boosts the benefit.
If you work from home it’s vital that you get out of the house, spend time in nature, hang out with friends, and make this a regular event in your work life. Don’t think of it as time off, think of it as part of work.
Even if you can’t stop working, at least take your laptop somewhere different. Not only will you feel better about your work, you’ll be more productive, more creative, and you’ll possibly add a few extra years on to your life while enjoying our very special natural environment.
Taken time away from the computer? Tell us.
Now for something a little bit different that I hope will help spread the word around and maybe encourage someone else to better their health, work/life balance and long term peace of mind.
All of the photos in this post are my own and I’d love to see some more articles, stories and photos about this topic from other bloggers. Often I think it takes the example and story of someone in your life to bring about this kind of change. If you write something, let me know any I’ll share it around on social media.
At a minimum, drop a comment below and let me know you own story in regards to the good or bad effects working from home has had on you, and whether turning off the laptop has had a positive impact on your life.
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Extremely valid points. This is excellent advice for those who work from home, whether new at it or, like me, have been doing it for years. It’s far too easy to say “just a little while longer” while working on a project and the next thing you know, the whole day is gone, it’s dark out, and you’re wondering how that happened.
I now try to actually schedule in my “outside time”. Having a large dog that needs walking helps!
That’s true – you gotta walk the dog!
It’s a coincidence that I just started some of these tips in my life. I know it is really frustrating sometimes to be alone all the time especially when you are not married. Therefore, I have made a routine to go out every weekend with my friend to a restaurant. I am also indulged in working for a charitable trust. Now I am planning to make it more flexible and want to go on trips at least once in every 2 or 3 months. That’s very important.
Nice work! I’m glad to hear you’re balancing work and life.
As a mum of 3 kids, I don’t really have a choice about taking time off from the computer. My main problem is finding the time to work especially when they’re on holiday. But I get the need to spend more time in nature, I haven’t done too much of that lately. Thanks for the post, I’ll definitely let you know if I do write about my adventures with nature. 🙂
I hope you find the time!
Wow, another great article with such an important message!
I only switched to working from home about a year ago and love it. However, these days I’m spending many workdays at a co-working space cause after moving to a new city recently working from home became a bit lonely as I didn’t have any friends in the new place.
For me this has become the perfect middle path. It’s like getting the best of working in an office (good internet, supplies…), a coffee shop (being around people) and from home (having peace and quiet).
Especially if you’re new to working online, a great co-working space is worth a try. You never know, maybe you’ll find a new client, business partner or friend there 🙂
Plus, it’s an excuse to get out and move, especially if you can walk/bike there.
The co-working space works for so many people. My partner started doing it a few months ago and the walk to work + friends makes such a huge difference for her.
This is good. I do go out and take time off the computer but I need to do it more often with my family. And I think I need to buy that desk that can be increased in height, so I can stand and work also.
Got anywhere with some trees and water you can go explore too?
Ramsay, this was an awesome post. And I’m guilty as charged. I haven’t made money from my blog yet, but I’m either working on it, freelance writing or reading articles on the topics I write about. I tend to stand at my computer for long periods of time. During the day, though, I have some chores to do that help break things up. I also pick up my son after school and shop at the grocery store. I tend to chat a lot with other people when I’m there. But I’m not getting outside for walks, and that needs to change.
As I read your post, I had a sense my subconscious was talking to me! Thanks. I used to walk nearly 5 miles a day. You’ve inspired me to get outside. I live in a smallish town with lovely trees and cheeky squirrels. It’s time to get to know them better.
Get on it, Laura! 🙂
Hi Ramsay, thanks for this latest blog. I work both from home and from an office. I can’t always get up and down tools at the office so I have put up some bird feeders outside the window I sit next to. My work is now joyously interrupted frequently by a variety of avian friends throughout my working day. Keep blogging. Colin
That sounds kind of nice!
I just love you and this blog. Keep up the good work!
Thank you. Appreciate it.
Such good advice. I am a photographer and that means hours in front of a screen, meeting deadlines, posting and doing the business side of a creative job. Over the last couple of years I have been turning off the computer and getting out, rain or sun.
At first I told myself it was a photo walk, refreshing my creativity… actually it’s time to wind down, meet friends, chat, laugh and smile. I got rid of the guilt, enjoy just living and (I think) my work gets better.
Sometimes of course there is a dead line and you just have to put in the hours…
The guilt is a big one in the British-based cultures I’ve found. When I travel to Asia and elsewhere they don’t really have it as much. Work is just work.
Great article, thank you. My husband started this great off-the-grid website – https://www.freeeaglesranch.com/ , and then lost a long battle to cancer. I have never taught myself how to start or run a website, and maybe you, or one of your readers, will have a bright idea on how to keep it going. I am selling the property, which is very isolated, but has all the key ingredients for following your advice above.
What a lovely property and website! If you need some advice about what to do with it from here feel free to send me an email with some specifics and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.
Great Ramsay. That’s gracious.
Jessica, all the best in keeping the website going, and making it successful.
Jessica, so sorry to read about your loss. I wish you all the best.
Impeccable timing, l have just started my work from home career,since I’m among the unlucky 98% struggling to secure a job. Traveling this road hasn’t been easy and suffering from major health problems enumerated above. Going forward I’m going to implement these tactics and hopefully will recover from my depression and loneliness.
Thanks to the Tyrants troops for the inspiration.
Sorry to hear you are feeling lonely and have had some bad health. Please keep positive and strong, I’m sure good change is ahead for you!
I so agree. I’m living proof that too much sitting is bad for you. In the last year I’ve gained weight and my cholesterol has increased, and I’m pretty sure it’s due to sitting for too long in front of my computer. Trouble is I love blogging and everything to do with it. I get engrossed and then just forget to get up, get out and even forget to eat. I’m going to be much stricter with myself from now on, and will definitely be writing more about it. Thanks for the timely reminder 🙂
You can install a browser extension like Task Timer that will help you to get up on time.
Such great points and ideas, Ramsay! Getting a dog (or two!) changed my life for the better. One of the great things about working from home is that your pets are never left on their own for own and dogs force you to get outside for regular walks. Win-win!
Ha ha. Yep, if I didn’t walk my Beagle she would destroy the place!
Two terriers. I will say no more.
I’ve been working from home for almost 10 years. I don’t mind not being around people, I actually like being able to focus and get more done. But within the past year I started getting outside and going for a short walk almost every morning, and sometimes in the afteroon too. I live in an area with a lot of trees and very little traffic, so it’s nice and relaxing. The walks have become one of my favorite parts of the day.
Love it! So lucky to be able to live somewhere where that kind of thing is easy to do.
I have been working from home as a graphic designer for about 15 years but I have clients in the area so I get out to meet with them and I belong to a local “in-person” networking group with BNI and I belong to the Chamber of Commerce. So those connections get me out and about. I also live on a farm and have three big dogs so they help keep me moving. I do have to be intentional about getting outside, though. I found that this winter, I could be inside for days at a time. I recently read another article about how vitamin D can counteract other health issues which makes it all the more important.Just looking out the window at the cows next door doesn’t do it. I have to actually GO outside!!
I think vitamin D is probably a lot more important than we think. It’s only in very recent human history that we started spending so much time indoors.
THOSE PICTURES ARE AMAZING!
I love the nature shots that you take. They look so serene and visually mesmerizing.
As for the article, I cannot find it more timely, personally.
Working from home, for the last 6 years, I find some aspects of it really offsetting.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a place elsewhere that I’d rather be. I love my home office (not a real one, though working on it!), and the lifestyle it provides.
However, social isolation, and depending entirely on yourself can take their toll on work ethic and discipline. Besides, the eyes suffer when you don’t know how to enjoy mini-breaks (hey, there is nothing to orient yourself against, so it’s easy to immerse yourself completely), as well as the lower back.
With spring finally here, I’m making it a priority to go out immediately after work hours, and workout in the nearby park.
I’m also a huge fan of Beachbody workouts, and found that fitness keeps me agile and sharp, as opposed to the usual lethargy that comes hand in hand with continuous desk work.
You might enjoy this. I find it to be very useful for putting things into perspective. It’s an image about maintaining mental health, long term.
That being said, I find meditation very helpful for keeping me centered and grounded. Cannot recommend Headspace more. Folks who work from home, and have to juggle with a garden variety of tasks… get yourself a subscription! You’d be happy you did.
I love that you focus on these things so much. All the other sites talking about online businesses, forget about the long term aspect of it. And they definitely forget about making it work with the other aspects of adult life – taking care of health and sanity, relationships, marriage, social life, kids etc.
Oh, and once again – LOVE THOSE PICTURES! 🙂
Thanks for the kind words. I’m lucky to live in a place where photos like that are easy to take because the environment is so lovely.
Appreciate your comments, as always.
Great points! I’ve been receiving your posts for a couple of years, since before I started my own site (on BlueHost as you suggested) – you’ve been quite helpful. You mentioned sharing any posts of our own, so here’s one of mine:
about this exact topic. Hope you enjoy it, feel free to share if you wish.
Thank you, Rod!
I agree and Forcing it to work has never worked. Most good things in our life happen without a single percentage of effort on our behalf. I found going with the flow is much easier than forcing every domain to flourish.
It took two years working from home to make me realize I actually enjoy working with others more than working independently. I learn more when I’m not CEO and if you don’t cheat when you do your SEO, your ranking will stay for a long time .
It was interesting ram, the more I worked from home, the further I pulling away from the reasons I wanted to work from home.
Thanks for sharing, Tyler.
You touched on a critical topic, Ramsay. I also ask my subscribers about one main thing:
Pause for a moment.
Get away from it all, spend some time all by yourself. Without your computer and mobile phone. Without ambient noise.
Take a walk in a park in silence or go to the countryside. Change what and who surround you.
Realize what you really want. What kind of life you want to live.
And then take out everything needless that disturbs you and steals your time.
After that act dynamically in the direction you’ve chosen.
You’ll make it!
This coming from you is a validation to what I’ve been having in my mind lately. I’m a mom to two little ones and thanks to all your information I started blogging. My blog led me to be a regular contributor for another website and I’ve started to spend every possible minute I’m not caring for my kids in front of a computer. Lately I was noticing I was getting very stressed and short tempered with my kids. I was loosing focus on what I wanted to do and was literally just wasting time. Not enjoying my family or work.
Now, everyday in my list of priorities is to go out and take a walk with my kids. It always puts me back on my feet and I get to enjoy some quality time with my kids.
Thank you for this post!
I’m so happy to hear this. Let me know if you find any improvements!
This is so important! As a teacher, I get n fresh air, sometimes for days on end. After the day ends, there are lesson plans to be made and student work to be graded. On Fri-Sat-Sun I work on my photography business. Cramming that into three days is insane, too. So today, I am going to take the calendar and schedule some tree time at least once a week. It is not enough but it’s a start!
Sounds great! I hope it helps.
I work at my desk and laptop in the studio designing knitwear for dolls, I deliberately leave the telephone in the office so when it rings I have to get up and answer.
Difficult sometimes switching off the audio book untangling thread,
but people now know to wait a few extra rings.
I walk 5.30 in the morning as I was putting on weight what with age and so much sitting….feeling a lot better doing so.
Thanks for a golly good post, eye opening going to send it to my children.
Thank you! Appreciate that.
I think you’re absolutely right. People need to unplug. It’s a great way to maintain inspiration and creativity, and a good reminder that you’re working to live — not living to work! when you work from home, it’s really easy to forget.
Yep, it’s easy to forget what work really means.
Could not agree more. For me, finding special places in nature where I feel connected to and supported by Nature and the Universe, places where I can take pictures or not, journal or not, “just” gaze or not, hear Nature’s sounds and soak in the experiences, are key to my wellness and creativity. Thank you for this piece and all your posts.
Thank YOU, Joy. Really appreciate the comment.
The last few weeks has been really stressful so I’m thinking of waking early every morning -against the urge to sleep in- and walking round the block to my ‘office’!
I’ll ‘go home’ following the same route in the evening. 😀
I like it!
Brilliant post and reminder, Ramsay!
This topic is near and dear to my heart…as I have experienced first- hand how detrimental working from home can be if we aren’t careful.
With weight gain, anti-social tendencies creeping in, and ignoring my love of hiking, it’s been a challenge for sure.
I actually do have a post that I just updated about the importance of freelancer self-care.
I’d love to share it with you. Not sure if you wanted us to share here in the comments or email you our stories.
I’ll try both and you can decide what works best.
Thanks again for this hugely important reminder to take care of ourselves as freelancers!!
Here’s my personal take:
Healthy, Savvy & Wise
Thanks so much! I left a comment and tweeted it.
Indeed, very good advice. have been working from home for about 8 years now and definitely know about needing to get away in order to get perspective. Living in the middle of Berlin there are not many choices of green spaces, but even if I can leave the bicycle home and just walk to do errands – helps. Love the photo of your cat! Mine (also a Birman with lovely blue eyes) also has her place next to my computer. Makes it easy to pet her when she asks for attention.
That naughty cat in the photo is a Ragdoll. 🙂
Is it hard to find sunshine in Berlin?
Great article, this is so true and I need to take more time to go outside. I often work all day long and sometimes don’t leave my computer for days besides meals and sleep. I am trying to take a more active role in going outside and taking more breaks.
How do I change my user picture on here?
Hey man. Head over to Gravatar.com and get yourself one. 🙂
That only works if I use a WordPress account to comment. I only used name and email. I don’t see any other way to comment on your blog.
Nope, you use Gravatar and then that email that you use at Gravatar works everywhere on the web that supports it.
I see, I have added a gravatar, will it show up soon or how does that work?
May I suggest to add a multi-login one-click buttons like twitter, fb, wp etc that can be used for commenting? For example, below the comment section it might have “sign in with twitter”, etc. And in that case, it will auto-pull your profile photo and also create a profile on your site which can also be updated easily, so users also don’t have to type their name and email every time they comment.
Just some suggestions.
I enjoyed reading this article and many other blogs where you give advice. I am 81 and have written 15 books for children now. My problem is finding the time to blog which I know is helpful in promoting other writing.
I also get tired then find ideas come late in the evening!!
I feel the same way Jane!
I think about this topic deeply and feel glad that you brought it up.
The thing is, although the idea of ‘work from home’ is fantasized by many, it isn’t that glamorous either. It’s normal, tiring, and often lonely.
For instance, I couldn’t help working for hours, worrying about random topics and remained stuck to my computer even when I had nothing important to do. I got used to it – and it took a toll.
But when I occasionally reflect on life and think of what I’m doing wrong or right, the habit of ‘staying in the company of screens’ begins to concern me. It’s like I try to fix it, fail and then I try again.
Today feels like yesterday, and yesterday was similar to what was about a year ago. Nothing has changed much. When such monotony takes over, I feel overwhelmed.
What am I doing to fix the situation? Honestly, nothing big, but I started taking small steps a while ago.
I don’t look at my cellphone right after I wake up. Once in a while, I shut the lid of the laptop and decide to not open it for a day. I go for walks during evenings.
When nothing seems to work, even the smallest of steps seems to give some sort of push. And occasionally, it’s good to be reminded of it. Today, I want to thank you for the reminder.
PS. Those photos are fantastic!
Do you have any nice walks where you live? I know not everywhere in India has much clean nature left.
We’ll have to get you to Australia one day!
Well, hopefully we’ve got a valley and a lake here as we live a bit away from the urban chaos.
Not many trees here, though.
Wow, Ramsay, this is a so real situation! I have to pay a lot of attention, mainly in winter. I am a runner and that helps. Even so, it’s not enough. I created a trigger for me: at least once a day I have to meet someone (doesn’t matter if it’s a client). This way I can keep in balance relating to other persons. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it!
That is SO wise. I think that is a really good way of doing it.
Working from home can really be boring if we don’t go outside regularly.
It is not necessary to go out everyday. But, it is really important to move physically.
In that case, we can make a habit of exercising regularly.
I have seen that going social parties and going outside with my family at the evening improve my productivity.
However, thanks for sharing these nice thoughts.
Yes, we are very social creatures. Took me a long time to learn that.
Great post, as always. I find your blogs inspiring and focused.
I am currently working towards my “home career” so I appreciate these kinds of reminders of what I get to look forward to.
I definitely find that dropping everything and doing something different helps me stay creative and motivated during the day. I have grown to love my Fitbit that reminds me hourly to get up and go do something. Even if it is chatting with co-workers or doing an errand that requires me to move, I find the breaks critical to my productivity.
Great post once again! Thanks for the words. I am not ready to start blogging yet but once I do I will definitely have you in mind :).
Hey Ramsey, great article as always.
My story is kind of the opposite: I find myself spending as much time outdoors as I can (as I’m a travel blogger) and this often means that I don’t actually have the motivation and inspiration to do any work. I know this is a problem as well, but I thought you might appreciate my input on this. 😉
I work from home and I have to say you are right.. I have decided to start taking time out of blogging and just leave home and go outside and have fun.. it really helped me a lot.
Love this post. I’ve been an entrepreneur about 4 years now and the daily walk outside is something I swear by.
We all need that time away from the noise of modern life to let our minds wander and be free. Some of my best ideas come from walks in nature.
You inspired me to write a post on my blog about this topic also.
Here’s the link https://strengthessentials716.com/blog/benefits-walking-outside
Thanks for sharing all your knowledge on this blog and your emails!
Thanks for sharing this. Mostly i work on pc and i have to sit for a longer time. I will keep in mind the bad effects of staying home for a long time. Keep up the good work
Coincidentally, we just spent the Easter weekend camping in a national park, and I said to myself – I need to do this more! I live in Canberra, where we have untouched (relatively) natural reserves throughout the city, including within 15 minutes walk from my front door, so there’s really no excuse!
My post is about gardening and why I do it and highlights some of what you said in this post. When I am not in the garden, I am in front a computer, writing about plants.
Sounds a great idea,gotta kill two birds with one stone
Amazing blog , keep it up, all the best.
Thank you, Ramsay, for this wisdom and your important reminders. As a health coach, I am quite conscious about the need for regular breaks from sitting too long and the importance of getting outdoors in nature, yet I can still find myself engrossed in a project while the day passes by. I do have an alarm set on my watch that reminds me to get up every hour if I haven’t already, and having three dogs helps when it comes to getting outside!
Ramsey – spot on yet again. I cannot agree with you more on the comment: “Turn. Off. The. Computer. Go. Outside.” – this is so true and perhaps the best thing you can do if you work from home. My best ideas come from these kind of breaks, and its actually outside that I make my most progress with decisions/next steps and action plans.
If you can working outside in the sun can be a suitable alternative, but actually getting off the computer is more appropriate most of the time as you outline.
Thanks for another insightful post.
A very informative and educative post Ramsay,
Honestly, I will say with all certainty that working from home is not easy, it is in fact, one of the most difficult and tiring thing in life. However, i also believe that the rewards that comes with it far outweighs the challenges.
Unfortunately, most so called experts will always try to make people (especially the newbies) to believe that it’s very easy to work from home.
But the truth is that it takes a lot of efforts, discipline, and dedication to succeed with that kind of business. This is because there will always be something to distract you, you will always feel lonely and stressed up, and most times, this will lead you to want to draw the curtain and call it a quit.
However, once you always remember why you’re doing it in the first place, that alone will be able to carry you through all the odds.
Like you said, one of the things that contributes to stress is loneliness, which is why I strongly agree with what you said about always closing the laptop and going out.
To me, it does not really matter where you go to, just step out of your house, far away from that laptop, meet people and socialize.
Again, I couldn’t have agreed more to this statement “too much sitting can lead to poor heart heart, damaged posture, and even an increased risk of cancer.” That is why I often stand up and walk around at least, every 30 minutes of sitting down in one place, especially when I’m writing a blog post.
Overall, this is a very revealing post Ramsay, thanks for sharing.
I’ve been working from home for more than 3 years. To make matters worse, I’m also a homebody, so I enjoy the creature comforts of my place.
One day I realized I hadn’t left my home in 5 days. I was so ashamed. I also find that without sun and space I start to feel depressed and have low energy.
So now I make it a point to go outside every day, even if it’s just to walk to the neighborhood store. I’ve also found that spending time with others helps. If I ever start to fell depressed or overwhelmed, having friends over or hanging out with someone helps.
Well, my plan was actually to spend less time at the computer if I even get my blog to be a full-time job. I hate working 8 hours at work with only 1 break, so I hope to work maybe 6 hours a day if I ever work from home. Also, I plan to volunteer at the shelter and go to pilates so that will force me to get out of the house. I had it all figured out. I now earn 50% of my earning goal and I only work approx 10 hours a week on my blog so I think I will not have to work long hours if this ever gets to be my full-time job.