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Working from home seems so glamorous when you’re stuck in a more traditional work environment. You don’t need to get dressed. There’s nobody around to bug you, check up on you, or tell you what to do. And you can make grilled cheese for lunch every day!

Then it happens: you look around your home office and realize, well, it’s pretty lonely here. And wearing these pajamas every day has really been stifling your productivity. That daily grilled cheese probably isn’t helping either.

So, how do you work from home without losing your mind or in turn, driving your family insane? I’ve been doing this for 5 years from an 800-square-foot Brooklyn apartment and I didn’t even have a home office or spare closet to convert. Here’s what I consider to be essential to making your home-office employment a positive experience:

*1. Get dressed. Seriously *

Whenever I delay getting ready for too long, I can feel my energy levels sink, and my entire day winds up being less productive. One of the perks of working for yourself is that there’s no dress code, but for the love of all that’s holy, please mandate some sort of regular attire for yourself other than the clothes you sleep in.

2. Have a designated office space

There’s something about sitting in a chair, at a desk, with your feet on the floor that lets your brain know you’re in “work mode”. Even if you live in a small studio, create your work space in a corner or keep your table clean and ready for your laptop. A space that has a door and doesn’t offer a view of the dirty laundry or dishes is best.

3. Get out of the house at least once each day

Yes, I’ve been guilty of not leaving my house for 2 days or more. It’s just so easy to do. But those days wind up leaving me anxious, so I make sure to take a walk, run an errand, or work in a coffee shop. Don’t let the “I’m so busy” excuse prevent you from getting fresh air daily, as your mind and body physically need it to function at peak performance.

4. Exercise when you want

It’s such a blessing to be able to take that noon yoga class and not panic about getting back to your desk if the class goes too long. Try to make exercise a priority in your routine, and commit to doing what you enjoy when you enjoy it at least 2-3 times a week.

5. Interact with others

Join a coworking space, create a mastermind group, or just schedule a regular hang with your fellow work-from-home entrepreneurs. This doesn’t have to be expensive at all, just a way for you to be around people who understand your situation. I introduced a small group of Brooklyn-based female entrepreneurs to each other, and we take turns hosting a brunch each month. It’s been happening for years and I always look forward to hearing their updates and challenges, while offering them my resources and empathy!


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6. Take advantage of working from home

You have to take time to do the special things that would only be possible working from home. For me, it’s all about buying a ticket to a Wednesday matinee or knowing that I can spend the afternoon on a Tuesday in a playgroup with my daughter. You obviously can’t do this all the time because you’ll never get your work done, but on occasion it’s worth having to play catch up on nights and weekends, in order to do the things you’d have to get permission (or use vacation days!) to do previously.

If you’re not yet at the point where you’re working from home, but you dream about it often, join me for the free broadcast of Ditch Your Day Job on June 11-12th right here on CreativeLive.

Want more tips on how to conquer the freelance life? Join our Hive: **Freelance Lifestyle: Best Practices **for tips on taking care of your health, prioritizing, staying productive but sane, and much more!

Michelle Ward will help you transition out of a soul-sucking job and into work that feels like play. Her work has been featured in New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, the Forbes Top 100 Websites for Your Career list, and more.