The only ones who think working at home is easy are the ones who have never done it. Working at home is hard. You have to actually get the work done, and there are a lot of distractions and no boss.

You have to plan for and cope with the distractions in your home if you want to work at home successfully. Here are some tips to help you cope.

1. Keep the kids busy.

Children top the list of distractions, and you can’t always ignore them. If you’re at home, sometimes they will need you.

The best way to cope with them as a distraction is to plan your work day. If they go to school, that can be a major part of your work day. If they nap, work during naptime. You can also work early in the morning or late at night, depending on what works best for you.

If you have to work while the kids are home, awake and active, plan things they can do. Have special toys or activities for those times when you really need them to leave you alone for a while. Let them have a friend over or send them to a friend’s house.

Don’t just expect little kids to figure out ways to keep themselves busy. They might manage it, but it might be the kind of thing that makes you realize they’re being too quiet. Giving them something fun to do helps.

You can also have your spouse help. Your spouse can watch the kids while you work and he or she is home. No different from you watching the kids while he or she goes to work, right?

2. Internet

The internet is a particularly challenging distraction, as many people who work at home use the internet as a part of that work. It’s all too easy to start wandering around interesting links. Sometimes you can even tell yourself it’s in a productive way when really, it’s just a distraction. Are you really using those social networking sites for work or for fun?

If you get distracted by the internet, set limits for the different ways in which you use it. Decide how often you can check your favorite social sites, forums and email. Set a time limit as well, so you don’t spend an excessive amount of time on any one activity.

3. Television

How easy is it to get sucked into watching some television show or other? For most of us, it’s pretty easy.

I consider DVRs to be great productivity tools. No worry about watching the few shows I do watch when they’re actually on. No wasting time waiting for the commercials to end and wondering if I can do something really fast during them. I can pick the right time to watch the occasional show, usually with my husband.

Don’t watch television during the hours you plan to work. Work in a different room if someone else has the television on. The television will slow you down otherwise.

4. Telephone

The telephone can be a major distraction if you have friends or family members who love to chat, or if you love chatting. Your work hours are not the time to be talking on the phone.

If someone you know has a habit of calling while you work, ask them not to. Explain that you need to work. If they keep calling, take advantage of caller ID and don’t answer the phone unless you think it’s necessary. It can’t be avoided all of the time.

5. Separate your work area

The best work space at home is the one with the fewest distractions. A door is a big help. The more separation you have from the rest of the house, the less the distractions around the house will hinder your productivity.

6. Take a break

Distractions getting to you? It may be time for a break.

Taking a break lets you take care of all those distractions, give the kids the attention they’re after and lets you refresh your brain. You may find that you’re more productive when you take your breaks regularly. There’s a reason why employers are required to allow employees to take breaks. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you get completely worn out.