When you’re stressing out over a long commute, obnoxious coworkers, or an overbearing boss, it’s easy to imagine that getting all your work done from the comfort of your couch is the answer to every problem you’ve ever had. But if you don’t prepare adequately, your dream of working from home can quickly turn into a nightmare!

This is why it’s so important to recognize both the benefits and the dangers of working from home. And once you’ve identified those dangers, you’ll be able to prepare yourself for them.

The Internet and cell phones have connected us in ways never before possible. They have enabled us to get more done in less time. But they have also caused our work to overflow into every aspect of our lives. For many people, escaping the office is difficult because even when they leave, they’re still connected. And if this is true for those who work in an office environment, then how much truer is it for those who work from home?

Habits are one of the most powerful tools for sustained mental health. The things that we do every day shape us in the long run, for better or worse. If you develop poor habits as you work from home, you will suffer. On the other hand, if you can cultivate good habits, you’re bound to prosper. So, what are some of the habits that are important for those who work from home?

1. Wake Up On Time

You may be tempted to hit the snooze button more often than if you were working at a distant office. After all, your office is only a few feet away now. But don’t fall for this temptation!

If you don’t have a clear schedule, including a beginning time, ending time, and a break time in-between, your work will end up breaking out into every aspect of your life. You’ll be up late at night working on things that you should’ve done earlier that day. And you’ll end up skipping important morning rituals, like exercising, eating breakfast, etc.

If you know that you begin your work day at 6 AM and end it at 4 PM, for example, it will be easier to keep the beast contained. Never underestimate the power of a clear, easy-to-follow schedule for keeping your sanity.

And while you’re at it, don’t neglect the morning rituals that you’ve always had. Continue to take a morning shower and get dressed as if you’re going to work. These things will help your mind shift gears into work mode. And it will be easier to focus on the tasks at hand.

2. Go To Work

Another important way to build boundaries between your work life and your home life is to develop a separated space where you can work form.

This should be a space that isn’t used for anything but work. One of the problems with trying to work from your kitchen table is that it’s much easier to get distracted. You’ll be tempted to turn on the TV or check the news or grab something from the fridge. These little distractions add up, and over the course of a week they can turn into hours of wasted time.

In addition, every distraction breaks your focus and causes you to expend more energy getting back on track. Eliminate distractions by finding a quiet place where you can work that is separate from your normal living space.

Another reason that separating your work space from your living space is important is that if you don’t, you won’t be able to leave work at work. It will be much more difficult to leave the stresses of your job outside of the home. Instead, you’ll wind up bringing all that baggage into your home life and it will inevitably impact your relationship with your partner and children.

3. Build and Maintain Deep Relationships

One of the biggest disadvantages of working at home is the lack of social interaction. Human beings are social creatures who need relationships. Working from home can create a sense of loneliness, especially for those who are single. And loneliness, anxiety and depression go hand in hand.

If you are going to stay mentally fit and healthy while working from home, you need to develop and maintain healthy, deep personal relationships — that is in real life, not online!

The way you go about this may look different depending on who you are and what you’re interested in. Some might look to strengthen relationships that they had at their place of work before they began working from home. Others might think about joining a club, a class, a gym or a place of worship where they might have the opportunity to meet others like themselves.

Working from home is a blessing for many. But if you don’t approach it in the right way it can also be a curse. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to and if you follow some simple steps, like the ones discussed above, you’ll not only enjoy the benefits of being your own boss, you’ll be able to do it while feeling great.

Spencer Clements is a content developer and editor at morris-health.com

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