Home Office photo from ShutterstockWhether you’re telecommuting, starting a home business or freelancing, working at home comes with big changes, some of which can be surprisingly difficult. You can make the adjustment easier by anticipating challenges and planning your routine. Here are tips to help you succeed working from home:

1. Designate a work area. An office with a door is ideal, as it helps prevent distraction from household activity and creates an external cue that it’s time to work.

2. Set boundaries with family and friends. For some reason, many view working at home as a hobby or optional, so they’ll call you on the phone, stop by for lunch or want you to take care of errands for them. Protect your work time by being firm with family and friends, and if necessary screening calls.

3. Anticipate and deal with distractions before they occur. Having a separate office and setting boundaries can help, but some distractions such as the television and children can be hard to avoid. Identify potential distractions and set up blocks to keep them from getting in your way. For example, if you have kids at home, take them to a play group. If you’re prone to taking naps, remove the couch from your home office.

4. Create a schedule and routine. Because working at home can be flexible, it can be too easy to take care of chores and indulge in non-work activity. A schedule and routine gets you into your office to work and helps you avoid distractions.

5. Use a to-do list. Some home-based workers get into the office, but then are stuck on what tasks to complete. As a result they waste time trying to get into work mode and figuring out what to do first. A to-do list helps you get to work the minute you sit down at your desk.

Working from home offers flexibility and freedom, but if not managed correctly, can result in getting nothing done. Through a little planning, though, you can set up a work-at-home situation in which you are productive and efficient.