Working from home has great perks: flexible hours, no dress code, no commuting time. Yet it is still work. You have to be able to set some boundaries for yourself and others. Some people don't understand our world and they just assume that since we are home we have time to dedicate to other random activities, which is not always the case.
Being a freelancer means that you might have some free time in between jobs. However as a self employed person there is plenty to do that doesn't necessarily fit into active work. For me active work is time spent translating or proofreading, but running a successful business requires a lot more than that, such as marketing, accounting, blogging, and invoicing to name just a few.
As freelancers, we usually don't have a problem with work that needs to be completed by a certain deadline, at least we shouldn't. When our days looks open, however, how can we make sure those non-billable activities don't get pushed to the side?
Use your calendar
Most of us put appointments in our calendar. Personally I also write down certain larger jobs on my calendar, that way I have an immediate visual of what my day looks like. If my day is pretty open, then I can catch up with non-billable activities or decide to take a day off. But if you realize that, for example, invoicing never gets done, I would suggest you put it in your calendar for a specific day and time and treat it as real work. You might not get paid for it, but it is necessary for the well-being of your business.
Have a dedicated space
Distraction plays a big role when you work from home. You can easily get side-tracked and end up cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, etc. Having a dedicated work space, helps you focus on work and set aside the many other things you have to do throughout the day.
Train your family and friends
Some of them might not know exactly what you do from home or what your work day looks like. If your friend is in the habit of calling and talking for hours, it is OK for you to inform them that you are indeed working. If one of them asks to meet up for coffee/lunch a week from today, you can let them know that if a job comes along you might have to reschedule. In the end, people who have 9-5 jobs don't have the luxury to plan anything else while they are at work, like we do!
Use phone and email wisely
Though they are great tools, phones and emails can also interrupt work. Make sure that you only take business calls during business hours, and focus on work emails instead of forwarding that great post you read on Facebook. This way you will maximize the time you are working and have more time for yourself later.
I hope these few tips are helpful. What else would you recommend for home workers?