Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to work from home. I remember driving to work in the snow, longing for the day when I’d be able to work from my laptop, sipping a hot chocolate and watching the flurries safely from my couch. I envisioned early morning runs followed by blissfully completing all my work from a coffee shop, then unwinding all night, ecstatic to do it all over again the next day.

Now that I work from home, I do love it, but the days are not quite what I’d planned. Yes, there are some moments of bliss each day, but there are also moments of stress, insecurity and downright panic. Working from home is flexible and autonomous, but it’s also lonely and isolating. It’s crucial to your health and the health of your business to take some downtime everyday to recharge and prepare for the work ahead. Sadly, many of us work-from-homers fail to do this, because the work is always literally sitting right there, judging you as you watch Game of Thrones. It’s vital to separate from work. Here are five tips to get you started.

Designated workspace

You need a home office, no questions asked. Stop working from your bed or couch, because you will never be able to relax. If there is just no room in your apartment or house, have a designated space where you will keep your work supplies, such as your laptop and files. Even if you spend the day working at a coffee shop or your kitchen table, it’s important to literally put work away at the end of the day. This helps signal to your brain that work time is over, and it’s time to focus on something new.

Work hours

Just as your work needs a designated space, it needs set hours as well. When you work from home, you’re always at work, so setting (and sticking to) work hours is crucial to winding down after a long day. Your work time of course does not have to follow a typical nine to five schedule. If you’re a night owl, feel free to work from 2 to 10pm, but make sure you’re taking time for yourself in the morning. Sleep in, go to a yoga class or meet a friend for lunch.

Schedule vacations

At the start of each year, try looking through your calendar and scheduling some vacations. You don’t even have to go anywhere, but it’s important to take extended time off, more than just a day or two. By scheduling your breaks well in advance, you’ll be able to plan your work projects around those times. If you’re a freelancer, it’s possible you’ll need to take on extra work the week before your trip to compensate. Even though that’s painful at the time, it’s so worth it once you’ve allowed yourself to completely disconnect for an entire week!

Keep your phone charged

This is such a simple tweak, but it has truly been life-changing for me. Rather than keeping my phone in my pocket all day, I keep it plugged into its charger away from my desk. I had started feeling like I was constantly distracted, so left my phone on the counter one day to see if that helped. I felt so uncomfortable without it. What if a client called? What if a reader was awaiting a response on Facebook? You know what happened? I completed almost double the amount of work I usually do in less time. I am also more present with my family during non-work time, because I can’t just glance down to see what the latest alert was about.

Automate everything

Finally, automate absolutely everything you can in your business. By automating the non-skilled parts of your job, you’ll free up so much time and mental energy to focus on growing your business, then disconnecting at the end of the day. Try automating your social media calendar and newsletters and see how it feels.

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