Starting a new freelancing career comes with some unique challenges to productivity that you might not find in a typical office job. It’s difficult for many people to set clear boundaries between work life and home life when they take place in the same physical space, and that can negatively impact a freelancer’s ability to stay motivated throughout their day.

In this post, we’ll share three tips that new freelancers can use to ensure their new self-employed career gets off to a successful and productive start.

1. Create a Separate Work Space for Yourself

It can be difficult to separate your “home” self from your “work” self when you work in the same place where you’re accustomed to relaxing. Many studies on work-from-home productivity show if you don’t set clear boundaries between work and home, it can seriously affect your ability to decompress and sleep—your brain might even start registering your home as “the office”, where you’re not conditioned to rest easily.

If you want to be as productive as possible from home, it’s essential that you create a separate space to work. You don’t necessarily need to renovate an entire room to set up a home office—some people even manage to turn closets into functional office spaces on the cheap—but you need something where you can see a clear division between living space and working space.

A devoted office space will also allow you to keep your work things organized and separated from your personal belongings. There’s nothing worse than misplacing your invoices, client contracts, or other important files because they’re scattered around your house.

2. Set a Schedule (and Stick to It)

One of the common hindrances to productivity when you work from home is the potential for you to lose any sense of structure in your workday. The best way to combat this issue is by creating a schedule for yourself and sticking to it.

Some people will work a typical 9-to-5 day from home, but you do have the option to be more flexible with your schedule. In that case, you should work when you’re most productive (whether that means starting at 6 a.m. or noon), or even splitting your day so you work half in the morning and half later in the evening.

The nice thing about setting your own work hours is that you also have the freedom to pick which days of the week you want to make your weekends. Some people prefer to take days off in the middle of the week, while others prefer to split their weekend up. It’s up to you so long as it doesn’t interfere with your communication with your clients.

Keep in mind, in some cases you might be at the mercy of your clients in regards to meetings, conference calls, or emails, which may involve rearranging your schedule.

3. Don’t Treat Your Work Day Like It’s Just Another Day at Home

If you’re going to keep up the division between work and home, you need to treat your work hours like you would if you were spending them in any other office. This means you should go through the motions of getting ready for the day to get yourself prepared for work.

It’s hard to feel productive when you’re unwashed, unkempt, and hanging out in your pajamas. So when you get up in the morning, take a shower, comb your hair, put on real clothes, and have a good breakfast. It will help kickstart your brain into working mode. And if you’re feeling cooped up in the house, you can always work in a public space like a library or coffee shop.

Don’t forget that in any decent job you get breaks, so remember to take a few! Some people are tempted to graze on junk food and work from sunup to sundown, but you need a genuine break to recharge (and make some real food to help keep your energy up).

Find a Work-Life Balance at Home

The most important thing for a freelancer working from home is to treat their work the same way they would any other job with a regular workspace away from their house. Doing this will also ensure that your days off don’t feel like another day at the home office and hamper your ability to get some genuine rest.

Our brains work against us when it comes to productivity at home because we’re used to relaxing there, so it takes a more conscious effort to maintain motivation. But by employing some of these tips, you’ll find it easier to get through an eight-hour day at home without faltering.

Do you have any tips that help keep you on a productive track when working from home?

Posted by Spencer Knight

Spencer Knight is a writer in Edmonton, Alberta. His nonfiction has appeared in Spinal Columns, The Bolo Tie Collective Anthology: Volume I, and filling Station. When he's not writing, he's sleeping.