Common among writers is the romantic vision of the lone author, working at home day and night on his or her masterpiece, who finally, upon completing it and seeing it published, is elevated to the status of a cultural icon. A true success story, right?

These kinds of stories are lovely to read about and believe in because they are so inspiring; look at how infatuated the world is the idea that Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook from the comfort of a dorm room, and you can understand how important these stories are to our ambitions.

And yet, for all that romance and inspiration, we have to understand that, regardless of our career path, be it that of a novelist or a programmer, the work we do at home is incredibly hard. If we want to succeed, we must stay focused and produce excellent results every single day.

As a writer, I've found that it's helped to take a few steps in order to make sure I'm as productive as possible. This helps me to keep up with the various freelance projects I have going on, as well as leave time for me to do my own writing. I thought that many of these same tips could easily apply to entrepreneurs who, in order to save money, work on their dear projects from their home, apartment or other place of residence.

Create a Workspace

When I first set out on my own as a writer, I used to do all of my freelance work in my bed. I used to think I had a great life as a freelance worker: I wrote in bed all day, I wore pajamas all day. I practically lived in my bedroom for a week or two. But then I started to get more projects, and suddenly it became too much to handle. My legs would go numb after a while. I'd feel sleepy all day. My productivity suffered, as did my sleeping at nights. My body was completely confused.

I shifted all of my work into another room of the house: an unused guest bedroom and this became my study. I could close the door to this study when I needed to separate myself from the rest of the house, and I could also close the door when I was done working and didn't need to think about it until the next day. Being able to compartmentalize my life allowed me to switch on my business personality when I needed to and switch it off when I had other things going on. As a result, my productivity skyrocketed.

Follow a Routine

Shortly after I moved out of the bedroom, I committed myself to keeping regular hours, as though I worked in a business office. I woke up at 7 and was in my office by 8, ready to work. Four hours later I took lunch, then worked another four hours in the afternoon, after which I was off the clock.

Following a routine emphasized to me the importance of my task and made me realize that the routine actually helped me keep my life organized. Earlier, when I didn't follow a routine, I found myself working odd hours to finish projects on time, and so I was always stressed. But now that I work regular hours, I get everything taken care of in a more reasonable time frame.

Set Goals

If you're working on your own projects at home, it's important to set goals for your various projects, especially if you have a lot of projects going on. These goals will force you to remain focused on each project for the correct amount of time. These goals will also keep you organized; you'll know which projects have priority over others based on your list of goals.

I found that as my business grew and I took on more contracted jobs, I had to be very organized in how I approached them. Keeping lists of goals as well as deadlines and the tasks I had to accomplish in order to meet them was immensely helpful.

Communicate Well

Finally, although communication in every aspect of business is important, it's especially important that you are mindful of how you communicate with others, either team members or clients, when you are working remotely. Often, it's difficult to communicate in person with others when you are working at home, so you'll have to make an extra effort to be in touch through a number of different mediums.

What are some other tips or best practices you'd suggest people make use of when they work from home?

_Guest post: Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback. Feel free to connect with her via email at _mariana.ashley031