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Working from home | How to stay sane, focused and actually get work done

If you're working from home because of the coronavirus for the first time, we've got the inside scoop on how to make the most of it.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Thousands of people began working from home Monday in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus nationwide.

That can be hard if you've never done it before.

There are two ways to approach working from home.

You can act like you're going to work and set up a designated workspace with all the supplies you need. Or, you can act like you've got the day off, sit on the couch with your laptop and snacks and hope for the best.

Who's gonna know the difference, right?

Different methods work for different people.

10News reached out to Patti Smith for some advice. She's worked from home for almost 10 years and is also 10News reporter Shannon Smith's mom.

She breaks down her top tips for working from home.

Have a designated space

"First of all you need a place, a place to work from," said Smith. She has a home office set up in a spare bedroom. "I even have my own Keurig."

But if this is temporary, all it takes is a nice set up at your kitchen table.

"You have a place to go to work so you're not distracted by television, by people talking or by the outside."

Get ready for the day

Smith said she gets up, showers,  puts on makeup and gets dressed every morning.

"I just pretend I'm getting ready for work and go through the normal routine," said said. "Now I may not put on a suit or a dress or something I'd wear to the office but I'm still presentable."

She said that stops her from being lazy. It also means she's ready if she needs to leave the house later in the day.

RELATED: US internet is well-equipped to handle coronavirus work from home surge

Loneliness isn't a problem

Many are worried they'll get lonely working from home alone. Smith said that's easy to overcome.

"You really, you have people to talk to," she said. "With all the social media that we have, with texting, with telephones, with the flexibility, you get so much flexibility it's amazing."

Friends call her during the day, and if she's free she'll take a break to chat, before working a little later to make sure everything is done.

Take a break

It's easy to stay sitting down and never go outside. Smith said she's guilty of going a day or two without stepping out of the house.

"Get up for 10 minutes and break away, look away from the computer, take a walk," she said.

If you have a conference call that doesn't require your computer, take a walk around the block while you listen in.

RELATED: Tips for working from home, from someone who works from home

Set boundaries for family members

If you're working from home with kids, let them know there are certain times they should leave you to your work.

"I've talked to people who put a sign up on the door when they're on a call," said Smith.

Tell kids they can come in for an emergency, but put a system in place that gives you time to focus and them time to play.

Embrace the flexibility

The best thing about working from home is also the most obvious: it gives you more time at home. Smith will take a quick break to throw in a load of laundry or lay some mulch in the front yard.

"Right now I have a corned beef in the Crock-Pot that I put on this morning," she said.

As long as your work is done, being flexible will help keep things balanced.

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