We all think we want to work from home.  It means setting your own hours, having a flexible schedule, running errands when necessary and not needing a dog-sitter.  The common misconception associated with working from home is that, well, because you’re home, you’re relaxing.  You’re enjoying a leisurely lifestyle of doing whatever you want, whenever you want.

Contrary to popular belief, working from home is not a permanent vacation.  Actually, it’s far from it, and if you aren’t careful, you might find yourself overworking.  We want you to find a healthy balance, so let’s go over some ways to make sure that your work from home experience is successful.

Designate a Work Space
It’s entirely too easy to sit on the couch with your feet up and your computer in your lap, comfortably working the day away.  The problem with this method is that you have left yourself no space to relax.  Home is now work!  Where will you go to unwind?  The even bigger problem?  You’ll either never put that computer down, or you’ll put it down and never pick it back up.  Designate an office space that you use only for work in order to create a work-life balance.

Work Regular Hours
Another way to ensure that you don’t overdo it is to work regular hours.  Set a schedule: breakfast and coffee at 8, sit down at your desk at nine.  Take a lunch break around 11:30 or 12, and make sure you’re back after an hour to work until five.  Be strict in setting your hours, otherwise you’ll work the night away.  It’s easy to get carried away and glance up at the clock to see that it’s 9PM and you have an intense headache from staring at a screen all day.

Take Breaks
I mentioned that headache for a reason.  In an office environment, there’s water cooler talk.  You and your coworkers might get together to go on a short walk for coffee, or take a lunch break together that’s a little longer than usual.  You don’t have these distractions when you work from home, but you need to make yourself step away every so often.  Give your eyes a break from the screen and step outside for a breath of fresh air.

Be Professional
Sure, it’s easy to work in your pajamas all day.  You’re not planning on leaving the house and your clients will never know, right?  Well, believe it or not, it all carries in your voice.  You can very easily sound tired, sluggish or too casual without realizing it.  Likewise, you can sound professional and confident when you are dressed for success.

Be Organized and Disciplined
Usually the number one thing you’re told about working from home is that you have to be organized.  Either that, or you’ll be asked, “Are you disciplined?”  These are important qualities to reflect on because there’s no one to look over your shoulder and make sure you’re on task.  The best way to stay organized is to create a to-do list at the end of each day.  Which tasks will be the first that you’ll approach tomorrow?  What do you want to make sure you don’t forget?  Update your list as you go and mark tasks off as you finish them.  Keeping track of your to-do list and following the order you’ve set for yourself will ensure discipline.

Having the flexibility to work from home is a luxury, that’s for sure.  You get to manage your own hours and step out for a break when you feel it’s necessary, at your convenience rather than at someone else’s.  Just don’t let yourself fall into the easy traps of over or under working!