Have you just started working from home? Whether you’re a corporate executive or freelance entrepreneur, there are many benefits of working from home: the freedom and flexibility to make your own schedule, the time saved from water cooler distractions, and of course, the dreaded commute.

Companies are also now recognising the financial benefits of allowing employees the option of working from home, like reduced turnover and higher engagement. With all of the added flexibility and freedom, working from home can still be a struggle — especially when it comes to focus and efficiency.

If you’ve just started working from home, or perhaps struggle with being effective and efficient with your time, here are some tips to help:

Have a morning routine

Now that you no longer need to rush out the door to sit in traffic for the next hour, you can use that time to set yourself up for an effective and more peaceful day. Can you feel the difference? However you want to start your day, it should set you up for a more relaxed and healthier state of mind. Consider reading, juicing or even running. Whatever you decide, start it first thing in the morning and make it a habit.

Consciously start your day with intention

Intention setting can be important in a telecommuting environment, so you can give yourself the distinction between work and home. Some people like to walk around the block before they start working for the day. For me, I go to my “working mind” and make a conscious intention to have a productive and efficient day. Think about how you would use the commute to the office to get prepared for the day, and instead do that at home before you turn on the computer.

Have a dedicated work space that you enjoy working in

How frustrating is it when you are working on a project and realize that you are missing that one tool you need to move forward? You end up on a mission to find it, and your time quickly slips away from you. If you don’t have a spare space that you can dedicate solely as your home office, find a space in your home that you can use regularly and easily so that you can set up your office in an instant. Get a few plastic totes to contain all your office supplies if you’ll be changing up your scenery often. All you’ll have to do is grab your tote and your laptop. You’re ready to go.

Remove or reduce possible distractions

One of the many benefits of working from home is the flexibility. But this newfound freedom could also be one of your biggest downfallsRemove as many distractions as you can. Kids, pets, and spouses can all be distracting, so do what you can to reduce those interruptions, especially at the most critical times for your productivity. The same applies to scheduling visitors and appointments. Use your time wisely. If you must schedule the furnace repairman or that long awaited dentist appointment, do so at the beginning or the end of the day to avoid wasting your whole day waiting.

Create a schedule for your day

How many times have you lost track of time spent on Facebook? Be honest. It’s a time suck, and I’ve been there. The same applies to emails and any other personal project that you may be working on. Once you lose track of time, you start to lose momentum and productivity. Set limits and focus on time sensitive projects first. It is also important to schedule more important tasks at the time of day when you are most productive. Tune into your body and learn when you are most alert and concentrated.

Break for lunch

When you’re working in an office, it’s important for your mental and physical health to take regular breaks. If you’re working from home, these breaks are less likely to be a guaranteed element of your day. Since your home kitchen is close by, you may not feel that you need to take a break to eat. Instead, try exercising. Lunchtime can be one of the most effective times of day to get a workout in. A midday workout and can also reduce stress and tension that may have built up during the morning.

Maintain social interactions

Depending on your line of work, schedule regular visits or meetings with your colleagues, clients or supervisors to ensure that your social needs are being met as you work from home. You can make a point to go into the office at least once per week.  Or if you are entrepreneur, you stay in touch with other entrepreneurs to share best practices and success stories. If face-to-face visits aren’t possible, try to schedule meetings via webcam.

Images © West Elm