Free time, flexibility, taking naps when you want to – these are things that come to mind when people hear that you “work from home.” However, what most people don’t know is that it requires a lot of discipline to manage a home office. Not to mention that things can get even stickier when you’ve got kids, too! If you manage a business from home, are a telecommuter, or a freelance worker, here are some tips to help you compartmentalize your work and personal life.

1. Stick to a schedule.

Even if you are now working with flexible hours, keeping to a regular routine can help keep you sane. Wake up, take a shower, get dressed, prepare breakfast, spend some time to catch up on current events or social media, and then get to working. Creating a daily schedule and keeping to it helps you stay focused, and makes it easier to schedule meetings, meet deadlines and work around unexpected changes. That being said, you should also be strict about when work ends for you. If your hours end at 6pm, resist the urge to do any more work after that.

2. Know what needs to get done and how to do it.

This is especially important for people with kids at home. When you start the day knowing what tasks need to be accomplished and what you need to do to accomplish them, you’ll be able to handle distractions much more efficiently. As long as you get to tick off the items on your list and you are mentally aware of how much more you need to get done, taking a few minutes off to play pretend with junior won’t get in the way of work.

3. Invest in a home office.

This helps maintain your professionalism, as well as remind your family members that when you’re in there, you can’t be disturbed. Or if you can’t afford one just yet, assign a special spot in your home that’s specifically for work. Create desk space, a special corner in your kitchen, or even a spot in your garage, as long as it’s a spot that’s for work and JUST for work. This helps you mentally recalibrate every time you sit there and get down to business.

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4. Get online storage.

Aside from keeping your important files safe and secure, getting large online storage will allow you to work from wherever you are. All you need is good Internet service! (Take note of cafes with fast internet, too!) You won’t even need your laptop, since a lot of these services are mobile-friendly too. This is also a great way to stay on top of your deadlines, even if your schedule suddenly changes and you need to step out of your home.

5. Step back, step out, and take a break.

Even in an office environment, employees are encouraged to take a quick break every hour to help manage stress. Much like chismisan in the pantry, stepping out for a walk, a dip in the pool, or working in a nice coffee shop can help the creative juices flowing when you’re feeling stuck. Sometimes, it’s also more efficient to just call it a day a few hours early when you’re no longer being productive. This is one of the best perks of working from home – take advantage of it when it’s necessary.

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