And Why We Need a Little Billy Ocean Right Now

As I write this, we are several weeks into self-isolation around the globe. The coronavirus pandemic has put the entire world into weirdsville. I almost never use the word collectively, but in this case it fits. Collectively, we are all feeling much of the same fears and anxieties, not to mention dealing with our own personal versions of isolation.

Right now we need to realize that whatever we’re feeling is cool. If we’re angry or anxious, we need to acknowledge that. If we’re feeling generally upbeat, we should allow that to happen without guilt. Our feelings are going to change throughout the day and over the course of the next few months. It’s part of being human and it’s totally normal that we feel what we feel.

Maybe you don’t want to feel angry or anxious. I sure don’t, but sometimes there it is. Hi there, feelings. Now go away, I’m trying to make a sandwich. 

Since we can’t just swipe left on our bad feelings, there are a few things we can do to get into a new set of feelings that we like better. Here are a few things I’ve been doing lately to change things around for myself:

Get Outside

Before March happened, I would run or walk in my neighborhood. It helps me think, relaxes me, and as a bonus my heart tubes won’t clog up like a sewer drain full of baby wipes. So I’ve continued my routine like nothing has changed. I don’t encounter anyone closer than twenty feet, so we’re all safe.

Seeing the sky, trees, dogs, and waving hello at neighbors has been a huge boost for my overall outlook. This morning there was a woman walking around our ‘hood with a giant steaming mug of something. Just walking. Drinking. Being alive. Sometimes that’s enough.

Get Creative

I know. Getting creative sounds awesome if you’re all happy and feeling it. If you feel like crap, how the hell is that supposed to magically happen?

For me, getting creative can mean doodling. Working on my Rubik’s Cube solve time (I’m under three minutes now). Folding paper into little cranes. Writing blog posts like this one. Working on my side gigs.

Maybe you can’t imagine getting into Picasso mode and pooping out a masterful painting right now, but that’s okay. Making a sandwich and getting artful with the mustard might just work fine.


Speaking of sandwiches (I think I’m hungry, are you getting that?), cooking can be a super mood lifter. My wife has been throwing herself into new sourdough creations and old savory standbys lately. It feeds her soul and we all benefit (which is also why I need to keep to my running schedule). 

You don’t have to whip up a masterchef-level meal. Just make something yummy and easy and put some love into it.


I admit that I have never been a fan of the Facebook. I’ve hopped in and out over the years, mostly to admin my business page (because it’s a marketing sin not to have one). Personally, I hate getting caught up in the politics and, currently, the depressing news of the day.

Recently, I’ve changed my outlook on Facebook. I’ve purposefully set out to get on there and just connect with people, new friends and old. Commenting positively or with jokes (a lot of my comments are engineered to make beverages squirt out your nose) is one thing I can do that also helps others. I’ll DM connections just to say hi and ask how they’re doing. I scroll right past the negative posts and don’t spend any time on them (or at least I try, I don’t always win at that game). 

For the most part, connecting on social media and through email has been super positive these days. Just knowing that other people are out there, waving at each other online helps.

What Billy Ocean Said

The world is never going to be the same. When the pandemic is over, we are all going to be living in a new society with new ways of working and living. That’s not all bad. We’ll come out the other side stronger and hopefully more connected to each other.

One of my favorite mood-lifting songs is, not surprisingly, from 1985. It’s got motivation, a danceable beat and the video has three celebs as backup singers with killer moves. I double dog dare you to not get a little boost in your outlook.

“I’m gonna put this dream in motion, never let nothing stand in my way.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going. I’m gonna get myself ‘cross the river, that’s the price I’m willing to pay.” – Billy Ocean, When the Going Gets Tough (the Tough Get Goin’)

The cool thing is, we don’t need to wait for a global pandemic to do any of this stuff. Any time we feel anxious or sad or just not feeling much at all, we have stuff we can try.

I wish you all the best during this time and after. If this post was helpful to you, please share it with friends. Also, come hang out with me on twitter.

Photo by Mikayla Mallek on Unsplash

This week hasn’t started out like we all thought it would. Things have been escalating pretty quickly and none of us were prepared for how this would play out.

Jenni and I are extremely fortunate in that we’re used to this routine. We already work from home and we homeschool our 12-year old. Yeah, we’re those people. No, we don’t bring prune and hemp bars to parties or hand out little end-of-the-world pamphlets at the bar, but admittedly we are outside the norm.

I know you’re dealing with a lot of shit right now that you’re not used to. Maybe you’re not exactly sure how this whole working from home thing is supposed to be done. Your company probably wasn’t prepared for that, either. Do you wear pants during video conferences? Do you still shower every day? Maybe you’re stuck somewhere between what’s the proper protocol and how much can you get away with?

I know, let’s throw kids home from school every day into the mix! Yay! It’s like a snow day that seems like it will never end. Schools weren’t really set up for this situation, either. So now all they want to do is play Minecraft and watch Frozen and you feel like crap because you really should be helping them get an education but you still aren’t even sure how to use Zoom or Slack for work.

And let’s not even mention that you bought everything you needed for the next 2 weeks except extra peanut butter and it’s the ONE THING that would make the day seem slightly more sane.

Deep breath. 

This sucks. You are not alone. You are going to get through this.

It may help you to know that as homeschoolers (technically “unschoolers” to pile on a little extra weirdness), we aren’t always getting it right, either. We do our best but we still have to wrestle the kid away from YouTube sometimes. He’s 12. He doesn’t always want to read the stuff we assign him or work on the project he started (ironically, he was working on a thing about the Black Plague. heh). Some days are tough. Some days are easy.

Forgive yourself.

This situation is nowhere close to normal, so don’t try so hard to make it that way. Let it be weird and unpredictable and not ideal.

Do your best to get through the day, figure out your own work routine. The kids are not going to miss out on Harvard because they spent a week at home without an established curriculum. Don’t try to replicate the experience of sitting in a chair and being attentive for 8 hours a day.

Forgive yourself.

Do what you can to stay healthy, stay sane and make sure the house doesn’t burn down. If you can do that over the next eight weeks, you’re doing an amazing job.

And hey. If you need to unload or ask a question or whatever, reach out. I’m @workathomedj on twitter, or you can send me an email: dj at workathomegeek dot com.

There’s a newish platitude making its merry way around the internet, maybe you’ve heard it. It’s about getting up before 5 a.m. to achieve Massive, Ultimate, and Total Global Domination. It’s mostly in passive income and entrepreneurial type memes and usually attributed to Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett and somewhat mysteriously, Einstein. Apparently, they were all known for waking up before the birds and that’s why they are (were) massively successful and you are, well, just plain old, massively failing you.

I’ve found myself caught up in this one at times. It’s hard to look at those guys and not compare your own routines, wondering if maybe imitating Warren Buffett would also make you a billionaire. Then I realize that you could really take this too far and wind up drinking milkshakes in an Omaha diner every day. Shudder.

The thing is, none of the memes and articles ever get too deep about why we’re all supposed to wake up early and drink milkshakes. There are also no dots connected between parking in the handicapped spot and success. I think we can all stop pondering if that’s a good idea.

Over time I’ve learned that more important than simply copying what other successful people do or did in their daily lives, is the realization that what made them successful is that they created their own routines. If Steve Jobs got up at 4 a.m. every morning, it’s because it fit his lifestyle and made sense for the things he wanted to accomplish. He very likely didn’t know or care about Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban or Ariana Huffington’s daily routines. That’s what made them successful, the fact that they knew themselves and knew what worked for them.

Have a Routine. But Make it Yours.

I have a morning routine. It goes kind of like this:

  1. Wake up around 7:15 or so (I don’t use an alarm)
  2. Go to my movement space and do some yoga, stretching and/or meditation
  3. Make coffee and breakfast for our family
  4. Sit down and plan my day using my bullet journal

I try to stick to that routine as much as possible. There are, of course, days where I wake up tired, skip the yoga and go straight to coffee (coffee!). A couple days I might walk after breakfast instead of stretching before.

This works for me, but it may not work for you. You might even be thinking that I’m either lazy for getting up so late or insane for rising before 8:00 a.m.. And that is exactly the point. We are all unique. Every one of us has our own body clock and circumstances that change the way we structure our days.

Learn about yourself. Find what works for you and build your own morning routine around that. Otherwise, you might find yourself still not a billionaire and asking a Nebraska waitress if this is really how Warren takes his coffee.

Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.”– Ellen DeGeneres

One of the things I’ve always done when I’m feeling stuck or daydreamy, whether I’m working at home or in someone else’ office, is to get up and go for a walk. As soon as I start to lose focus, I know that I need to get up and move.

There are other things that are just too easy to do, like fall into an internet black hole if I’m on my laptop or check instagram if I’m in the middle of a print run. I’ve found that those things only make my stalled focus even worse. As if watching dancing an amazing dance video compilation seven times will jar me back into reality.

Those things are way too easy, but if you think about it, walking is even easier. You just have to get up and move away from your work area (if you’re in a wheelchair, roll with it, baby). You don’t have to go suit up in your workout clothes, you just walk as you are.

Inside or Outside?

The best walking place is outside, because you completely remove yourself from your stuck little space and see cars, trees, even other people (gasp!). For me, a short walk around the block does the trick.

If you’re confined indoors because of weather or you’re in prison (wait, does being in prison count as working at home?), you can just take a little tour of your space. Yes, seriously. There are times when getting up and walking little loops around my 300 sq. foot home office space was enough to get me back on track. And I didn’t have to dodge any cars or leaf blowers.

I was once working on a 2-month project in a law firm in Downtown Los Angeles. The hours were grueling and the daily work was never-ending. So going on a long walk in DTLA wasn’t always possible. In those times, I simply walked the complete circuit of the floor we were on. The regular staff working in their cubicles must have thought I was frequently lost, but that’s okay. I noticed that a couple of them did the same thing, or they actually went outside and I think that’s awesome.

The Really Real Benefits of Walking

A few things that regular walk breaks can do for you:

  • Releases endorphins, which sounds like dolphins, which are happy and cool, so in actuality it’s like dolphins for your brain
  • It can ease depression, unless you’re not depressed, so you can skip this one
  • It increases blood flow to your brain.
  • You get a creativity boost, as proven by Stanford University smarties
  • You wear out your shoes faster, which means…ooooh, shopping!

Walking is easy. Walking wakes you up. Walking is the solution to your stuckness. Try it next time you’re losing your focus and let me know what happens.

I’d love it if you would leave a comment below or send me a private note: