Working from home can feel like paradise — until you start going stir crazy. Take these tips to keep up you productivity (and your sanity) and maintaining your sharpness in between interviews.

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If you’re like me, you can’t help but stay busy with some kind of freelance work while you’re searching for a permanent job. For a lot of us, that means tapping away on a laptop on the living room couch, kitchen table, guest room bed — basically any horizontal surface where you can squat with a laptop. And on hot July weeks like we just had, a spot near the fan or A/C window unit is essential to keep our keyboards from melting into a Salvador Dali nightmare.

Trying to get work done from home — especially for those used to the 9-to-5 commute — can come with a thousand distractions. The secret, though, is to develop a routine. Here are some techniques I used to keep my sanity while biding my time with freelance work.

Set up an office — somewhere. I happen to have a small room in my home that I’ve turned into my own little office. But you don’t have to have four walls to have a little office space to yourself. Set aside part of the kitchen table or a couch in the den or even the back patio as space for you, and you alone – at least during work hours. Maybe the corner coffee shop can suffice, as long as you keep buying coffee periodically.

Keep the 8-hour routine. For some early birds, it might be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Night owls might want to try 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Whatever works best for you circadian rhythms, find a starting point and adhere to it like you would at an office job. Without a routine, it’s easy to get carried away with house chores or be drawn to that demon TV. Fit all of your job-search and freelance activities into these hours, but also close that laptop when it’s your self-imposed quitting time.

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Build breaks into your day. Without a few stretches and mental breaks in the day, you’ll probably start fading by early afternoon, since it’s sometimes hard to notice the passage of time when you’re by yourself. Do a few calisthenics, have a healthy snack or walk around the block to give yourself a little mental jolt.

Get some exercise. As nice as it is to luxuriate in a 30-second commute from bedroom to laptop each morning, you may realize there’s a little more of you than when you first started. During lunch breaks or after you’re done for the day, get out and take a walk for a few blocks. You may not have realized how many calories your old commute used to burn. Get that blood pumping!

Keep up the human contact. Especially if you’re mostly doing job-search work from home, be sure to keep scheduling networking events or setting up in-person informational interviews. You want to keep those interpersonal skills finely honed for your next interview, so press that flesh at least a couple times a week.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at