The work from home lifestyle is an attractive option for entrepreneurs and traditional employees alike. You can set your own hours, dress how you want and work in a way that maximizes your time and skillset. However, working in the comforts of home carries risks that many don’t consider before embarking on it. Working at home is filled with distractions – chores, errands, pets, family members, television and even the couch. A mid-day nap is pretty darn awesome! But when those distractions begin to dominate your time, energy and productivity, you’re in for real trouble on the work front.

Here are 12 ways to stay focused and productive when you work from home – and still enjoy the perks that come with it!

1. Be Honest

Is working at home REALLY the right choice for you? Are you prone to laziness, easily distracted or need other humans to keep you motivated and engaged? For some people, a home office is not a wise career move because their personal and professional habits, needs and wants aren’t in line with solo working.

2. Designate a Space

Toting a laptop around and working on the couch, in bed or at the kitchen is part of the freedom of working at home. But sometimes when you scatter your work around, your thoughts, papers, ideas and productivity get scattered too. You can still move around, but choose a space in your home that will house your technology, files, tools and other work stuff that you can access quickly and easily.

3. Make It Pretty

Once you designate your space, bring it to life with your favorite photos, artwork, toys or organizational tools that will make you WANT to hang out here. This workspace is an extension of your life where you will spend many hours a day. Make it a pleasant place to spend your time.

4. Stick to a Schedule

The beauty of working at home is that you have the freedom to control when you work. However, we all have times when we are most productive and creative during the day and times we suck wind to type even one more word or make one more call. Identify YOUR best hours and work them consistently.

5. Dress for Success

Sure it’s awesome to roll out of bed and over to the computer in your pajamas – another perk of working at home. But when you elevate your appearance even when it’s just you and your laptop, you will be more inspired and energized to do meaningful work. Wash your face, brush your teeth and get dressed as if you were going into an office.

6. Take Breaks

Grinding out work at all hours of the day and night isn’t healthy. We need to step away from our screens and refresh our minds to get re-energized in our work. Every hour step away from your desk or work area for a quick walk, some sit-ups or a coffee break.

7. Go Public

You must leave your home to stay engaged with other human beings. People buy from people so whether you’re an entrepreneur, author or employed by someone else, your customers aren’t living in your home with you. Get out into public and hang out where your customers hang out.

8. Multi-Communicate

There are hundreds of ways to communicate these days – phone calls, texts, Facetime, email, Skype, G+, social media, mail and the list goes on. Learn how to use multiple modes of communication so that you can connect with others in a way that fits your and their preferred style of communication.

9. Be Human

Step away from your screens! Yes – I said it – step away from the screens. You must show up in person to create a stronger connection and engagement with customers, friends, family, co-workers, partners and fans. Hit up networking events, charitable events, co-working spaces, conferences and happy hours to keep your in-person presence memorable.

10. Create a Calendar

When you wake up in the morning, do you know what to focus on each day? If not, it’s time to create a calendar to keep you on task. If you’re an author it might be an editorial calendar. If you’re an online marketer, it might be a content creation or social media calendar. If you work for someone else, it could be your to-do list with more structure and priorities around it. Really hone in on what business tasks bring in more customers, money and fans so you aren’t wasting time on useless tactics.

11. Find Your Tribe

Hang out with other people who do what you do – and this means leaving your home again! Entrepreneur groups, meet-ups, conferences and workshops are the perfect place to meet and brainstorm with like-minded folks who GET what you do and can help you grow.

12. Prioritize Right

Want to work less and play more whether you work at home or in an office? Create a system of prioritization that identifies the tasks that will make the most impact on your business,customers, co-workers and tribe. Ditch all that stuff that just fills time but doesn’t bring in any value. Write down every task you do daily, weekly, monthly, annually. For each one, note how these lead to financial growth for you or the company. If it doesn’t, then ditch it!

The key to successfully working from home is to create an environment and process that works for YOUR individual needs and preferences. Be open to experimentation to find your perfect work-at-home groove.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: What makes working from home easier and more fun? What strategies do you use to stay productive and engaged when you work from home?

Featured photo credit: ClipArt via clipart.com

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