Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, there’s no traffic to fight, you’re not adding miles to your car’s odometer every day, and you have control over your own schedule. On the downside, it’s easy to get distracted by things going on at home, and it can feel like you never really stop working.

If you’re not used to working from home, the new environment can provide a several challenges to your productivity levels. Here are 4 ways you can help yourself to stay productive when working from home.

Tip #1: Establish a morning routine

When you’re working from home, it can be tempting to stay in your pajamas until mid-afternoon and forgo brushing your hair altogether. Staying in your “home” clothes isn’t doing anything for your productivity. Get yourself in the right mindset for work by getting up at the same time each day, taking a shower, and putting on clothing that gets you into a “work” mindset. Try wearing something that would be considered “business casual” at minimum.

Tip #2: Establish a work space

If you’re not careful, when you’re working from home, it can start to feel like you are always working. Increase your productivity by establishing a permanent work space for yourself, preferably in a room with a door that can be closed. Having a permanent work space helps you get into the right mindset when you need to be working, and literally closing the door when you’re done working helps you to figuratively close the door on your “work” time and get back to your “home” mindset.

Tip #3: Communicate

Communication is a key component of successfully working from home. You need to let co-workers and clients know the best methods and times of connecting with you. You will also need to make a concerted effort to reach out to your team members on a regular basis. Regular communication helps you stay in touch with what’s going on in the office.
It’s also very important that you communicate with your family, friends and/or roommates when working from home to establish good boundaries. When you work from home it’s easy for the people in your life to forget that you have actual work to do. Let them know what your work hours are and outline when and if it’s okay to interrupt your work time.

Tip #4: Take breaks

In the office, there are natural breaks in your day, like when your coworkers stop by to chat, or when you head to the break room for more coffee. Many of those interruptions are eliminated when you work from home, which can be both good and bad. Fewer interruptions probably help you to better concentrate, but it also means more work and less breaks. Taking short breaks throughout the day has been proven to help you recharge your creativity and refresh your mind. Set a timer to remind yourself to take a break and get up and walk around for a little bit several times throughout the day. Though it seems counterintuitive, these short breaks will actually help you to be more focused and productive.

Though working from home can present some obstacles, if you follow these tips, you’ll be a pro in no time. By treating your home work space as a professional office environment, you’ll gain a better work/life balance and improve your productivity.