© Laura Elizabeth PohlThis was my “home office” when I lived in Cape Town, but more often than not, I sat on the sofa or worked in the library (and still do).

Sometimes, when I’m editing a video alone at my desk in the corner of the living room while trying to resist all the snacks in the pantry, you know what? I miss working in an office.

Don’t get me wrong: I love making my own schedule. I’m happy I’ve been able to build the career and the life I have. But I miss being in a place filled with smart and interesting people who are game for bouncing ideas around or popping by my desk to critique a video. An office can be a great source of focus and motivation – when you’re not being pulled into useless meetings, of course; I don’t miss those.

Working out of my home, I’m super focused and motivated 85% of the time. For about 10% of the time I’m less focused but still working hard. Then for that last 5% of the time I’m refreshing my email nine times a minute and gobbling all the snacks in the pantry and dusting the inside of my floor lamp while agonizing about getting motivated to work. It’s terrible. (To clients or potential clients reading this: Fear not! I bill only for the time I actually work, not the time I agonize and dust and eat and refresh and repeat.)

So, yes, sometimes it’s hard to stay focused. Here are three things I’ve found help motivate me when I’m working at home:

1. Do as much work as possible before noon.
Morning is the time my mind is most uncluttered. I can focus, especially if I hit my desk by 6 or 7 a.m. When I work a solid four or five hours before noon, I don’t feel bad if my afternoon isn’t as productive. And believe me: a four hours working at home is equal to six or seven hours working in an office because I’m not being interrupted by chit-chat and meetings – just a slightly needy cat.

2. Schedule a call or a date with a friend.
Every day I communicate with people a lot, but it’s almost entirely by email. If I didn’t schedule human interaction on my calendar, there are some work days – even weeks – when I wouldn’t talk to anyone but my husband. He’s a wonderful, interesting human being. But it’s not healthy to converse with only one person a day for days on end. So I try to talk with a friend or meet someone for lunch/coffee/chatting at least once a day.

3. Work at the public library.
Sometimes I need a change of scenery. A lot of other people who work from home do, too. This is partly why coffee shops make a killing. But I don’t want to to buy an overpriced drink just to work in new surroundings. So the public library is my go-to workplace when I can’t stand sitting at home anymore. Surrounded by books and an atmosphere of studiousness, I feel energized to be productive. A bonus at my neighborhood library is the free and fast Internet (I follow these tips for browsing safely on an open network).

Fellow work-at-home folks – what do you think? How do you stay motivated when working from home?