Working From Home: Tools for Sanity in Isolation

If you’re like a lot of people I know, you’ve long wished for flex time and the freedom to work from home. But our current situation brings to mind one of those bargains with the devil you see in movies, where you ask for flex time, and then the devil is like: You’ve got it! And so does every other human being on earth…who’s not yet hospitalized! You’ll all be working from home! Hahahahaha [devilish laugh…]

Things are scary.

We’re in unknown territory, and this is a life or death situation for so many people.

But things are also frustrating, boring, overwhelming, and enervating.

We’re (mostly) healthy people who suddenly need to deal with a lot more time and a lot less structure than most of us have ever experienced.

When COVID-19 started hitting closer to home, and, like everyone else, I started feeling the anxiety, I thought, my work is so useless in times like these!

(Important side note: I know a lot of artists feel that way, and nothing could be further from the truth. We need art and creative expression to help us navigate this new territory, to understand it, and to escape from it, if only for a while, and only in our minds. You offer an incredible service to the world. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.)

But then I realized: The tools I teach in the Creative Focus Workshop are all about setting clear priorities, planning your time based on what works for you, and making sure your most important jobs are what happen first.

Rather than focusing on creating a tenuous work/life balance, these tools help you integrate work and life in a way that works for you. This is especially important when you’re working from home and find yourself without the pre-set boundary of an office or co-working space.

In other words: exactly what we all need right now.

working from home sanity

So, I decided to put together this resource page with a selection of the most useful blog posts on how to triage your work, make solid decisions about what’s most important, build habits that will keep you on track, and design projects that are manageable and achievable.

This unprecedented historical moment presents both one of the toughest challenges for focus (news! homeschooled children! isolation!) AND an incredible window of opportunity to reorganize your life around what is truly most important to you, and to take control of your time and attention.

These ideas and techniques apply whether your project is finishing a graphic novel, designing a new app, or implementing a program that will keep your children learning, your work done, and your family healthy.

Without further ado:

The Social-Distancer’s Guide to Working From Home:

Whether you’re just starting working from home, or making a big shift in how much you’ll be working from home, or things are just a total mess and you need a hard restart, here’s how to triage and identify what’s actually important versus… everything else.

Here’s a 5-part series on taking control of the roil of ideas and thoughts and to-dos, and making real progress on your projects.

If you’re ill, either chronically or temporarily (and even if you’re not!), here are the 5 most important steps to take to gain focus and keep yourself on track.

How to break down giant, murky projects that never seem to get done…and get them done. What’s your next step?

Once you have your projects corralled and broken down to steps, the next hurdle is to create habits that support your intentions.

Grit is not the answer! Make it easy on yourself. (+ video working session)

It’s not about what you “should” do, but what you “want to” do. (+ video workshop)

working from home can you hear me

Finally, most importantly, if things feel really overwhelming right now, and you’re beating yourself up for not getting more done in your long, unscheduled days while working from home, please, please, treat yourself like a dog!

(Which is to say, be kind to yourself, and create good boundaries!).

In need of heavier-duty help, accountability, and community?

We’ve reopened the Creative Focus Workshop (a paid course and group coaching program), and posted—FREE—the powerful Creative Engine Framework masterclass (“How to Overcome Resistance and Unlock Creative Flow”), where you will:

  • Master the four essential phases of creative production…and learn why, when you skip one of these crucial steps, you find yourself stuck.
  • Predict the appearance of your “resistors” — the key spots that will drag on your progress — “Shoulds”, perfectionism, impostor syndrome, distraction, procrastination, and scarcity…learn to avoid those traps!
  • Gain command over your process that will give you a sense of proportion and control, keep you moving—even when things get really challenging.
  • Learn the secret of leveling up your creative life! 

Check it out — learn more here!

Meet Jessica Abel

Meet Jessica Abel

Author. Cartoonist. Teacher. Coach.

I help people whose imagination and creativity are the ultimate source of everything they do in their professional life stop grinding and start carving out the deep focus needed to finish—and launch—the game-changing work they want to be known for.  Discover my Courses, Join the FREE Creative Engine Workshop or find out more about me.


  1. Barbara Strickland on April 15, 2020 at 7:08 am

    lovely post

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