While working from your home office has its advantages, it can be one of the most challenging work environments you’ll ever face. People complain all the time about the noise levels and distractions in their open-plan office, but they don’t understand how difficult it is to accomplish day-to-day work tasks while also cooking, cleaning, taking care of the family dog, feeding and entertaining the kids, and making sure every other family members’ day is smooth and productive. Talk about distractions.

Even during the day when the kids are at school, focusing on work can be difficult with the constant urge to clean up around the house, enjoy the weather on a beautiful day, or just crawl back into bed hanging over you every day. And then your family gets home, and the real distractions begin. So, here are a few tips that might help you stay on-track and focused at home.

  • The most important thing is to actually have a home office. The kitchen table, living room couch, or your bedroom is not a sufficient office space. You need somewhere quiet and private, designated to your work. A kid-free, pet-free, distraction-free zone. Be sure to add a swing or sliding office door to this room or area, so that you have zero unnecessary or unwanted interruptions.
  • Next, make sure that your office has everything you need. For example, office supplies, a filing cabinet, computer or laptop, work phone, printer, charger for laptop and phone, your calendar, etc. This is one of the advantages of working from home; you get the luxury of a large office with plenty of extra room and storage space instead of being crammed in a tiny cubicle with nowhere to store your office necessities.
    Use that space to keep everything that you need within reach. You shouldn’t have to leave your office during your scheduled “work hours.” Treat your home office the same as an office building. Schedule work hours and lunch breaks for yourself and stick to your schedule.
  • Make sure your family is aware of and respects your schedule. It is important that everyone understands when you can and can’t be disturbed. Also, remember to factor in time for things that you may not need to do if you worked in an office building. Such as getting the kids breakfast and on the bus in the morning, taking the dog for a walk, homework, and family dinner.
    Allowing time for these things will most likely make your work day longer, but you will remain on schedule with both your work and home tasks without feeling overwhelmed. If your whole family is home for the day and you’re not finished working, use headphones to block out some of the noise.
  • Change out of your pj’s and get dressed for your day. Although it is very tempting to work from home in your pj’s all day, it is much less productive than getting dressed for your day. Yes, pajamas are more comfortable, but you’re going to work, not sitting on the couch watching movies all day.
    Wearing the same clothes that you sleep in to work might make you feel too relaxed and comfortable, making you less productive and efficient. Wake up in the morning and prepare yourself for your busy day.
  • Set deadlines for yourself on projects and basic work tasks. Make these timeframes realistic, however it is okay (actually it’s good) to give yourself a tight time frame. Add some pressure to your relaxed, stay-at-home job. Push yourself to be more productive, but not so much that you stress yourself out.
    Be sure to reward yourself for meeting these deadlines and completing tasks. Take a coffee break, work outside, enjoy a shortened work day. However, don’t get carried away with your rewards. The goal here is to motivate you to be more productive, not distract you from your work.

Enjoy the benefits of working from home; the convenience of the whole situation, working in a large well-designed office instead of an office cubicle, setting your own schedule, and being with your family more. Just remember to motivate yourself to stay on track and focused during your designated “work” time.

People who work from home are some of the most hard-working, organized employees out there. You have the ability to balance work and home life even though they flow together. Achieving that balance will help you organize and balance your busy life and maybe even remove some stress from it, as well.