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3. Establish a routine and structure similar to workplace
As stated earlier, structure and routine of an external workplace has advantage of allowing you to leave work behind at end of day. By establishing a routine and structure similar to a place of work, you can still benefit from this advantage. Now obviously you don't have to be as regimented as you would be if you worked in a corporate office.
You don't have to start at 9:00 am, work till noon, take a one hour lunch break and then work through until 5:00 pm. You can set whatever routine and structure you like. The important thing is to be disciplined in sticking to your routine, whatever you decide it is. If you prefer to work from 5:00 am through 10:00 am and then from 2:00 pm through 4:00 pm that's fine. This structure allows you to enjoy hours from 10:00 am through 2:00 and after 4:00 pm as your own. There is room for flexibility here. Work however is most productive for you but stop once you get to end of your allotted work time. If you haven't finished what you started, pick it up again in work time. Don't allow 'your' time to be encroached on by work.
4. Minimize distractions and interruptions
By implementing suggestions 1., 2. and 3., you will also be establishing an environment where distractions and interruptions are minimized and discouraged. For example, if you have school-age children, by scheduling your work time to coincide with their school time, you will minimize distractions and interruptions you will inevitably face if you try and work while they're at home.
By having separate communications systems, you won't be interrupted with calls on your home phone while working (your answering machine should be getting these calls so you can return them on "your" time).
By having an exclusively "work" area in your home, and making sure that other members of your household respect this space for what it is, you can help others remember that when you're in your room you're working and are not to be interrupted for things that can wait until you're "home" again.
Rituals can play a useful role in flipping switch at end of workday. For example, you may already have a routine that sees you working until 6:00 pm, time your partner returns home from work. Perhaps you share a glass of wine together at that time. Why not think of your shared glass of wine as an "end of workday" ritual. By making a habit of doing this, your mind will soon learn to associate that glass of wine with end of workday and flip switch on work in automatic response.
Another idea is to wear a certain item of clothing while working so that, when you take it off at end of work day, your mind makes connection between its removal and end of work time. A baseball cap, a particular pair of shoes, whatever it is doesn't matter.
6. Plan to take days off and vacations
Finally, when establishing your routine and work schedule, don't forget to schedule days off and vacations. And make sure you take them. You may decide to take Saturdays and Sundays off, or your "weekends" might be Tuesdays and Wednesdays or Mondays and Fridays. Whatever works in best with your lifestyle, do it.
The same goes for vacations. Don't underestimate rejuvenating effect of taking a week off entirely. Not only is it good for your overall health and mental wellbeing, you will probably find that you are that much more productive when it comes to getting back to work for having taken a true time out.
Hopefully you can see that working from home does not have to mean turning your home into a place of work. Working from home as a lifestyle choice should mean that quality of your life is enhanced as a result of your decision, not diminished. By practicing these simple disciplines day-in and day-out you can be sure that even though you are taking care of business, you are also taking care of something even more important. Life.
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ... practical business ideas, opportunities and solutions for the work-from-home entrepreneur. http://www.ahbbo.com