When you first decided to become a real estate agent, were you attracted by the flexible hours and the fact that you wouldn’t be chained to a desk? You, like many others before you, may have decided that working from a home office was the way to go.

If this was the case, you probably learned quickly that while these freedoms are nice, they can also make it harder to be productive and complete each day’s goals. Distractions abound and it becomes easy to put off those particularly annoying tasks until “tomorrow.”

Lucky for you, this full-time staff writer on temporary home assignment has teamed up with first tuesday’s in-house broker to craft some tips on getting the most out of working from home.

Tip 1: Make a schedule and stick to it

A good schedule covers what you absolutely need to accomplish, while being realistic about the amount of time it takes to complete each task.  Remember to include time each week to grow your business through FARMing and prospecting for new business.

Create a habit.  For instance, spend your mornings completing administrative paperwork, touching base with clients on current deals, and preparing new listing packages and signage. Then, spend the rest of the day prospecting — in the home office or out!

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Stick to your schedule. This means planning for potential distractions, including personal phone calls, family members, pet noise and televisions.

However, this does not mean you are to put your personal life second. Some agents find themselves on the clock all the time, as they’ve allowed the line to blur between work hours and non-work hours. Make sure to schedule time for family and friends outside of your established working hours. To have a life, plan it.

Tip 2: Make a space

Camping out and working on the couch is not likely to get you very far. Invest heavily in personalizing your office space. Stock it with the office equipment you need to get the job done. Do not try to conduct your entire business from your smart phone. You will need an actual computer, printer, scanner, fax machine — and of course a desk and comfortable chair.  This is your workspace.

As you’ll invariably spend many hours in your car each week, keep chargers for your mobile products — tablets, phones, supra keys — in your car. Increasingly, agents  carry laptops or tablets (and sometimes mobile printers) so they can type up and process transactions quickly. To keep all your work materials together, consider purchasing a car organizer.

Tip 3: Find support

Working from home can make anyone feel disconnected. However, the great thing about working from home during this day and age is that you are not alone. There are plenty of other workers — in real estate and in other professions — who live nearby and deal with the same struggles unique to working from a home office.  Organize midday breaks for walks, refreshments, conversations about work and family.

Where can you find these fellow home office workers? Start by asking around your own professional network. You can also reach out through the virtual social network to create a live one. Form a community by planning regular meetings with these solitary workers.

Tip 4: Take advantage of the benefits

Working from home can save money by skipping expensive desk fees, and time by eliminating your commute and office-chatter distractions. Further, tax deductions are allowed for the percentage of your home set aside exclusively for your home office.

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[See Tax Benefits of Ownership, Chapter 4: Home office costs expensed]

Tip 5: Take an agent’s advice…

Do you work from home? What works for you and what doesn’t? Share your thoughts and ideas with other agents in the comments section below!