In many ways, working at home can be a dream come true. As a home-based entrepreneur, you can set your own schedule, avoid the hassle of the morning commute, and work in your pajamas. But the same things that make working at home so enticing can also cause you to form bad habits that kill productivity. It’s important to be aware of what these potential pitfalls may be and take steps to structure your life to avoid them.

Working at home in pyjamas
photo credit: scribbletaylor

Bad Habit #1: Being Always “On”

We live in a world where computers and phones are perpetually powered on and ready to go. While this makes working at home significantly easier than it was even five years ago, it also implies that we, too, must always remain on the clock. While doing things like checking email at dinner and keeping the phone bedside may seem like ways to be more productive, they actually ensure that you’re never fully focused on any one task. With nothing getting the full attention it deserves, work productivity may suffer, and being home may always feel like being at work.

Solution: Create barriers. Designate an area of your house that can act as a base station for work to remain when you’re off the clock. If you need to keep your phone on you for personal reasons, turn email notifications off. Making sure there are hours in the day when you are disconnected from your work allows you to recharge and focus on what’s most important.

Bad Habit #2: Eschewing the Morning Routine

There is an almost primal pleasure in working in one’s pajamas. Rolling out of bed and getting to work feels like a way to be more productive and less stressed – besides, those pajama pants are really comfy.

But ignoring the morning routine and getting straight to work while still half asleep robs you of precious prep time. A good night’s sleep allows you to subconsciously process what was learned the day before, and the morning routine gives you time to sort out your priorities and work more efficiently throughout the day. It also helps mentally transition you out of home mode and into work mode.

Solution: Keep a strict morning routine. Don’t even touch your phone when you get out of bed. If possible, keep your computer and phone out of the bedroom altogether. Eat a healthy breakfast, shower, and change into real clothes. Start your day as if you have somewhere to be. You may not have an office to go to, but you do have work to get to, and it should be given the weight and consideration it deserves.

Bad Habit #3: Mixing the Personal with the Professional

For many people, working at home means being better able to take care of the household. Whether that means picking up the kids from school or letting the plumber in, working at home can be a boon for getting the house in order. However, like the allure of being always on, working at home can blur the boundaries between your work and personal lives, causing neither to be fully experienced or savored.

Solution: Make a schedule and stick to it. Sometimes, your personal life will creep into your working life – it’s inevitable. But creating a schedule that fits your life and adhering to it is a good way to keep a boundary between the two. It doesn’t have to be a typical 9-to-5 schedule, but it should be consistent. It’s important to reserve specific hours of the day for work and play so the two remain separate – and your focus remains undivided.

Working at home can be a godsend, especially for ambitious entrepreneurs. As long as you remain aware of the potential bad habits that can form at home and take steps to prevent them, both your work and your personal life can remain productive and happy.

About the Author: Steve Musick is the CEO of Destiny Capital, a financial advising firm he founded in 1977. In addition to wealth management, Steve is an author, speaker, and lecturer on the subject of entrepreneurial leadership. He recently launched www.Empowerium.com as an entrepreneurial platform to fuel business growth.