A lot of people want to work from home, but achieving the same productivity in a home office as you do in a standard office isn’t easy. Working from home has lots of benefits; home-office workers can wear casual clothes, run to the refrigerator for a snack, and spend spare time with family. But the advantages of working at home can become distractions and can damage both your productivity and your morale.

A lack of engagement with colleagues can bring knowledge sharing and skills transfers nearly to a halt as well as put a damper on the type of healthy competition that sometimes keeps co-workers motivated. For home-based sole proprietors, the isolating effects of working at home with no colleagues of any kind can be even more pronounced.

Trying to run a business while rarely leaving the house can drive just about anybody nuts. However, with some self-discipline and a solid plan in place, you can make working from home work for you.

Make a Plan and Stick to It

It’s important to, if possible, designate an area of home as your office and dedicate it solely to work to the extent that you can. Then, when you “arrive” at the office every day, develop a set of goals to achieve before the day is over. Having set goals will help keep distractions at bay.

Don’t forget to take a break now and then. While working at home can be full of distractions, it’s also possible to have the opposite problem—you might find that you’ve been working for 12 hours straight without taking a break. Make sure develop a daily schedule that builds in time for meals, exercise and some occasional mental rest.

Come up with a weekly report for yourself on Friday afternoon to see how well you’ve done meeting your goals and keeping your schedule for the week, and to note what you’ll need to work on during the next week. Organization and discipline are critical.

Avoid Isolation

Working from home doesn’t have to mean being alone. Keep up to date on trends in your industry by participating in online forums or relevant social-media activity. Just make sure you stay on topic. And if you do have employees working with you in your home, don’t be too casual. You want to maintain a professional environment and lead by example in your attire and behaviour.

Your clients and suppliers need to feel as though your office set up is no different from any professional setup, even if it is in your home. If you host meetings, choose a location (preferably your designated office) that’s void of clutter, noise, interruptions and personal belongings. To the extent that you can, make your office look like a real office, with a coffee machine, some magazines or brochures, and perhaps a couple of appropriate pieces of art.

Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

At the end of the day, tidy up your office and, if you can, walk away for the evening and don’t come back. Working at home often turns into working all the time, which is not healthy and can actually be counterproductive.

The author works for Apex Window Werks, a home window repair service provider and an A+ Better Business Bureau company. AWW can remove fog from windows, repair glass or provide any replacement part.