These days, more and more people are taking the plunge and trying to work from home. Whether as freelancers or just by simply transferring their existing duties to a home workspace, professionals both at the beginning of their careers and experienced industry leaders are finding that they can do all their work without having to go through the trouble and gas money a normal commute demands.

However, working from home comes with its own challenges, especially as it requires great discipline compared to working from an office. Today, let’s examine how you can work more effectively from home.

HAVE A SET AND CONSISTENT SCHEDULE

First off, you’ll most effectively work from home if you have a set and consistent schedule. Many beginning freelancers or professionals who decide to work from home end up running into issues when they can’t get themselves into working gear. In other words, they have difficulty starting work when their body and brain are convinced that they’re at home, relaxing.

But while your mind can be tricked into thinking it’s relaxing, you can also trick it the other way. If you create and maintain a set schedule – for instance, marking your working hours as 9-to-5 like you would at a regular office – your brain will eventually get the memo and begin settling into a working routine once more.

The key here is maintaining that consistent schedule even though there’s no boss looking over your shoulder. This is why many people struggle with working from home: they have trouble maintaining discipline when the only person telling them to stay on task is themselves.

Note that maintaining your schedule is important even if you have a slow day. If you were at the office, you couldn’t necessarily head home even if there wasn’t much to do. The same applies if you work from home; stay at your desk until you’re off the clock.

MAKE A SOLID MORNING ROUTINE

Similarly, you should look into developing a good morning routine. When you have to leave your house to go to work, you’ll automatically fall into a good routine where you get up, shower, eat, etc. There’s no need to leave your house when you work from home, so lots of people end up slouching through the morning and starting work later than the intended.

Get a morning routine together and you’ll see your productivity skyrocket. Even better, you’ll feel a lot better about working for your designated schedule when you start the right way each workday.

You can also follow this tip even if you work on a regular schedule (say, if you work night shifts instead of a regular 9-5). Just make sure that your routine, whenever you wake up to go to work, is the same so your body is trained to get down to business just like it would be at a regular workplace.

GIVE YOURSELF DESIGNATED BREAKS

While working consistently is important, you also need to remember to figure in designated break times. You’d get breaks at a regular office or another workplace, and you still need them if you work from home. During these times, your brain is allowed to relax: a crucial process if you want your productivity to remain consistent throughout the day.

Try to leave your desk during these breaks, too, instead of staying at the same computer to further differentiate your workspace from your “relaxation” space.

MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS

Working from home can be quite tough, particularly if most of your work is done on your normal home computer. The Internet is perhaps the most advanced and in-depth distraction ever invented by mankind, and it’s almost always at your fingertips.

But if you want to be productive and work effectively from home, you have to minimize any and all distractions. That means the Internet, TV remote, game controller, mobile phone, and more need to be away from your eyes and hands.

Do your best to set your distractions aside or get rid of them from your immediate area. If you do this enough, you won’t even notice possible distractions, and thus won’t have to convince yourself to keep working when the opportunity for a distraction arises.

When it comes to the Internet, you can use apps that block your Internet access for a time, or apps that simply block your access to certain webpages. You can also download other apps that give you time limits for your breaks. Alternatively, you can use a separate work computer that doesn’t have games or a high rendering graphics card to make media enjoyment more trouble than it’s worth.

HAVE A SET WORKSPACE

Another good idea is having a set workspace. Again, your brain will be more likely to get down to business and work effectively from home if you can trick it into thinking that it’s at some kind of office.

For many people who work from home, the workspace will be a desk. We’d recommend making it a desk far away from your other distractions, even in another section of your home or apartment if possible. Keep your workspace away from comfortable chairs or your bed, too.

In fact, never try to do work on your regular couch or bed. Both of these areas are already coded by your brain as areas for relaxation or sleep. It’ll be almost impossible to do good work in places where your mind is expecting to rest.

LEAVE YOUR HOME!

It’s also a great idea to leave your home from time to time. If you work from home, chances are high you will eventually go a little stir crazy from seeing the same few walls and not getting any sunshine. A great way to merge two of these tips is to take all your breaks outdoors whenever possible.

Go on frequent walks to keep the blood flowing. If you have a dog, take them on as many walks as they like; it’s a good way to bond with your furry friend and stay active at the same time.

SEPARATE SOCIAL MEDIA, PHONE NUMBERS, EMAIL ADDRESSES, ETC.

One last way to work effectively from home is to separate all your various contact pages or social media pages. A separate social media account for your work persona and casual, friendly persona is a necessity in this day and age.

Furthermore, you should try to get a separate phone number and email address if possible. The email address is especially important, as it prevents you from idly checking your social emails when you should be working.