If you’re required to go into an office every day, having the option to work from home might sound like a welcome break from the daily commute. There’s no arguing that remote jobs offer a number of benefits to the 3.4 million Americans who work from home today. Less money spent on lunch downtown and gas to get there. More flexibility to plan work around kid’s schedules and other priorities. The list goes on.

And although the positives are plentiful, working from home is not without its challenges. For many, a pile of laundry and dishes distract from work that needs to be done. And sometimes staying in pajamas sounds like a pretty good idea.

The truth? If you want to work remotely and maintain a high level of productivity, there are some healthy habits that need to be practiced. Here at Rev, we employ thousands of freelancers who enjoy the flexibility of working from wherever they please. We’ve grown pretty familiar with what makes a remote employee successful, and what doesn’t. So here you have it, our top five tips to make working from home work for you.

Make a Schedule and Stick to It

A schedule starts at the beginning of the day and ends with a firm stop time. There’s plenty of research to support the importance of waking up at the same time every day and maintaining a consistent schedule. Stanford University shares this tip with students:

“Keeping regular hours will not only train your body to be more alert when you wake up, but will also help you to manage your time better.”

With no division between your home and work life, it can be easy to wake up whenever you want, cave to distractions throughout the day and work all hours of the night. Working from home doesn’t mean you need to be a “nine-to-fiver”, just create some structure in your day.

What to avoid: Skip the temptation to sleep in and make up hours late into the night.
What to do instead: Set up regular office hours with a clear start and stop time.

Dress for Success, Every Day

You don’t necessarily have to wear a suit and starched button-down, but make it a point to get out of your pajamas. Doing so will have a marked effect on your productivity and mental processes.

According to one Atlantic article, the clothes not only make the man, but they also “make the man perceive the world differently.” The psychological benefits of what you wear can influence what you think and how you feel. It can either elicit a sense of confidence and power or its opposite.

What to avoid: Don’t skip showers and work in sloppy sweats (or worse, what you slept in).
What to do instead: Enforce a business casual dress code at your home office.

Separate Work from Home

Designate a specific workspace where you can sit down and focus. It doesn’t have to be a home office, but that’s how you should think of it. Pick an area where you won’t be distracted by something or someone else. If you have kids or pets, make it a point to keep their play area away from your desk.

What to avoid: Don’t scatter work throughout the house.
What to do instead: Have a clean, dedicated area to work from.

Get out of the House Often

Even if you identify as an introvert, all of us require healthy doses of human contact. We’re social creatures, and to entirely silo yourself can be dangerous in the long run.

This is especially true if you go from being in a busy office every day to working from the silence of your home. While you may not miss the unnecessary meetings or office politics, eventually, being alone day in and day out can start to sink your productivity. It can also take a toll on your romantic relationships by putting too much strain for socializing on your partner.

What to avoid: Don’t work around the clock, chained to your computer, alone in your home.
What to do instead: Schedule lunch meetings, join a networking group or work from a coffee shop a few days a week.

Limit Distractions Effectively

With a lack of external accountability to keep you on track, there are countless distractions to derail you when working from home. Be it meal prep or a steady stream of push notifications, the temptation to interrupt your workday is always there.

While you might be able to put down that honey-do list, staying away from the internet may be a challenge. That’s due to the addictive nature of social media notifications, like Facebook. According to Bloomberg News, Americans now spend more time trolling their feeds than they do caring for their pets or completing household chores!

What to avoid: Don’t get pulled away from essential work tasks in favor of household chores or internet surfing.
What to do instead: Save chores for after office hours and install browser extensions like StayFocusd that limit the time spent on time-wasting websites.

The Takeaway

Working from home can be glorious! It can also be terribly distracting. With a few simple guidelines, freelancers can grow their portfolio and take on more customers…all from the comfort of their own homes. Are you a remote worker with some share-worthy tips? Please tell us in the comments.

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