Working at home presents all sorts of challenges. Here are 11 ways to deal with some of the most common ones.

Whether you are telecommuting for the boss, running your own home-based business or taking on freelance gigs to earn extra cash, it can be hard to stay productive and maintain your focus.

With so many distractions surrounding you day and night, creating a productive work space is a difficult task indeed.

It is not hard to stay focused when your boss is standing behind you and looking over your shoulder. Staying focused and productive is more challenging when that boss is across town or across the country, and is even harder when that boss is you.

However, there are ways to keep your focus where it belongs. Here are 10 smart productivity tips, each designed with the unique challenges of the at-home worker in mind.

1. Keep everything within arm’s reach.

The design of your workspace can have a profound impact on your productivity, so make sure your phone, keyboard, filing cabinet and everything else you use frequently is within easy reach.

2. Harness the power of the closed door.

Being surrounded by your family is one of the perks of working from home, but that does not mean you have to spend your work time being interrupted. Keep your door closed when you need to maintain your focus. The family will understand.

close door working at home

3. Set office hours.

This one does not work for everyone, and some people revel in the flexibility to finish a project at 2 a.m. For others, however, setting regular office hours is a real productivity boost.

4. Dress the part.

You do not have to put on a three-piece suit or an uncomfortable pair of high heels, but changing out of the bathrobe is a good place to start. Think of your office as a professional space, and dress like you would if you were going to work outside the home.

5. Set up a professional office space.

When you work from home, you can work from wherever there is an internet connection and a phone, but that does not make it a good idea. Setting aside a dedicated, comfortable home office space can boost your productivity and help you stay focused on the task at hand.

6. Set aside time for email.

Instead of answering every email and query as it comes in, set aside one or two times each hour to focus on communication alone. This simple technique will minimize distractions and help you get more done and check your email less.

7. Take a break when you feel overwhelmed.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when working from home, so give yourself a break. You may not work in a cubicle farm anymore, but you still deserve a break.

8. Keep the snacks out of reach.

It is easy to overeat and indulge in junk food when working from home, but doing so can leave you feeling sluggish and decidedly unproductive. Keep your snack bowl out of the office, and try to eat as healthy as you can.

eat healthy at work

9. Focus on comfort.

Making your office space as comfortable as possible can enhance your productivity and help you get more done. Invest in an ergonomic desk, and buy the best and most comfortable chair you can afford.

10. Make sure friends and family members know you are working from home.

Communicate your schedule to those you love, and make sure they know you are working during those hours. It is easy for others to view home-based work as less than serious, so nip those attitudes in the bud.

11. Keep your other home’s needs separate from your work.

For a while, my wife had her mom living with us because her health was starting to deteriorate and it was before she was eligible for ALTCS help in our state. I had to make it clear that whatever caregiving went on in the house had to be in a separate part of the house to make sure that the different responsibilities and needs of the house were clearly distinct.

Some families have these issues more than others, but no matter what else goes on in your home, it’s important to make sure that work, personal and family needs are all met in their own ways.

keeping family priorities

There are countless advantages to working from home. Anyone who has spent time in a traffic jam understands the appeal of commuting from the bedroom to the home office, but staying productive can be a real challenge. The tips listed above can help you stay focused and productive no matter where your physical office is located.