Whether you telecommute, are a freelancer or mompreneur, working from home can be isolating and lonely, not to mention challenging. From constant interruptions all day long to not leaving the house for days at a time, working from the comfort of home can start to take its toll.

Having worked at home for the last nine years, I’ve learned to love the freedom and flexibility of being in my own space, but it’s a constant struggle to keep that joy from turning into madness and to keep your productivity high.

Here are seven ways to work from home, stay sane and be highly productive:

1. Schedule Breaks and Downtime During the Day

When you work in an office there’s lunchtime, breaks and going to the break room for birthday cake to get out of your chair. There’s a reason that those of us who work at home are more productive, there are simply fewer breaks. From eating in front of your computer to staying at your desk for a 10 hour stretch, it’s easy to get carried away. Take your calendar and schedule time away from your computer throughout the day so you can refuel and reset.

2. Unplug Entirely

With easy access to email and other apps all day and night long, boundaries can easily be blurred. Make a point of scheduling time where you unplug entirely. Maybe it is on the weekends or you take several breaks during the year where you are not connected to the Internet 24/7. Getting off the email and social media train can help you truly relax and get focused on what really matters.

3. Get Out of the House

Have you ever gone days without leaving the house? The reality is that over time you can become less apt to want to leave the house, especially during times where you are engaged on big projects or deadlines.  As the saying goes, a change is as good as a rest. Make a point of scheduling outings, meeting up with a friend for coffee or lunch or arranging coworking dates with another friend who also works from home.  That break time can help your brain so that when you do work you are far more productive.

4. Go Outside

A change of scenery, however short, can make a major difference in your perspective and productivity. Scheduling time to get out of the house and simply go for a brisk walk around the block, sit on your porch or something else where you can get some vitamin D is crucial. Even in the cold and snow, a blast of icy fresh air can help spark a new idea, clear a block or give you a new perspective.

5. Get Support

Working at home does not mean you need to be alone. If you are a remote employee, carve out time in your schedule to catch up with co-workers the same way you would in the office and chat outside of the weekly conference call. If you are freelancing or self-employed, seek out networking groups online or offline of like-minded people. You can use groups on social networks, or even mastermind groups to help you find the right people to connect with and share your challenges.

6. Communicate with Your Loved Ones

Depending on your situation, you may have kids at home, a partner who works from home or other people that impact your work at home serenity. The key is to be clear with everyone about when you are working and what they can expect. This may mean meeting with your spouse to let them know if they have a day off, that doesn’t mean you can play hooky or teaching your children that when you are working you are not available.  Most of all, be realistic. Part of the joy of working from home is being able to do things you couldn’t if you worked in an office.

7. Carve Out a Dedicated Workspace

Carve out a dedicated workspace, however small, so you have somewhere to keep your supplies, files and technology equipment. It may be a corner of your bedroom, or you may need to get more creative like my friend Megan Flatt and spruce up a corner of your garage. As a work at home mom with two small children, she needed a space that was removed from the rest of the family for when she is working.

As you continue your work from home adventures, try to be more aware of how it impacts your mind and body. Give a few of these tips a trip to help you be more productive and help save your sanity.

Featured photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eulenfan/8618013263/ via Flickr

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