How to Work From Home: 10 Real-world Tips

How can you make working from home more productive? See home office decor pictures. Cavan Images/Getty Images

I am writing this sentence on my couch. As an improvised "desk," I've grabbed one of my kids' piano books to shield me from the increasing warmth of my laptop. It's 9:47 a.m. on a Thursday, the oldest two kids are at school, my wife and youngest son just left to pick apples, and I have a window of four hours to work on this article before I take over toddler duty for the afternoon. If you want to know what working from home really looks like, this is it.

According to a 2012 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 percent of American workers worked at least some hours from home each week [source: Noonan]. As more work can be done online, those work-from-home numbers are expected to explode.

On the surface, working from home sounds like a dream come true. No boss breathing down your neck (literally, with coffee breath). No depressing vending machine lunch at your desk. No impromptu conference room meetings to talk about "innovation" and "teamwork."

But the reality is far more complicated. Do you have kids? Can they sit quietly doing puzzles for hours on end? Does the giant flat-screen TV a few feet to your left pose an irresistible threat to your productivity? Does that awesome snack selection pose an irresistible threat to your body mass index?

If you can strike the right work-life balance, working can home can indeed be a dream come true. To help you plan for the real life challenges, we've assembled a list of 10 real-world tips for avoiding distractions, reassuring the boss and maximizing productivity.