If you’ve been forced to work from home because of the coronavirus, you might be rejoicing about your newfound freedom. Or you might be panicking about how you’re going to make working at home work – especially if you’re trapped with kids (and a significant other) who demand your attention.

I suspect – judging by the comments I’ve seen on social media – that most people fall into the latter camp. Just a few days into social distancing, you might already be asking yourself whether it’s OK to let your 3-year-old binge-watch “Paw Patrol” and if starting happy hour at noon is an acceptable coping mechanism given the current situation.

I know working from home has its challenges because I’ve been doing it for more than 15 years. But you don’t have to resort to drinking vodka (at least not early in the day) or parking your kids in front of the TV to survive telecommuting. You can make working from home work. Here’s what I’ve found makes it not only possible but also enjoyable (well, enjoyable when the kids aren’t around and possible when they are).

Know when you’re most productive

One of the best things you can do to ensure you actually get work done when working from home is to pinpoint the time of day when you are most productive. That’s when you should be doing your heavy lifting. Do things that don’t require as much brain power at other times of the day.

For example, I know I work best in the morning. It’s also when my house is quietest because the kids still are sleeping. So I’ve been getting up at 6 a.m. to start working. I’m usually up at this time when school is in session. But rather than being in the kitchen packing lunches, I’m at my computer writing now because the kids still are sleeping.

Have a schedule … but be flexible

Don’t assume that you can just wing working at home. You have to have a set schedule to actually get work done.  When my kids are in school, I know that I have from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. So I stay as focused as I can during those hours to tackle everything I need to get done. If I don’t finish, then I have to carve out more time – often after the kids have gone to bed.

With schools closed now, I’ve created a schedule for my kids because they have assignments they’re supposed to be doing. While they work, I’ll be working. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to write in my calendar what I’ll be working on during each block of time during the day so there’s no question about what I should be doing and when.

If your children are really young, take advantage of their naps and early bedtimes to work. You might find that you get things done quicker when you know you have limited time to do it.

Have a designated workspace … but be flexible

If you have a home office, use it. If not, find a spot where you can set up a workspace that you won’t have to move every day. Why? Because having that designated space will help you get into that work mindset. Plus, it will save you time each day from having to set up for work. You can just sit down and get started.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with sitting down with your laptop across from your toddler as he or she stacks blocks so you can shoot off a few quick emails. Being flexible can help you get things done in a less-than-ideal situation.

Make a daily to-do list

Before going to bed, make a list of what you need or want to get done the next day. Then you’ll be ready to start each day with a plan. Mark off your to-do list items as you go. This will help you stay focused on what needs to be done and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Get out of your PJs

You might be thinking that the big benefit of working from home is that you don’t have to bother changing out of your pajamas. Trust me, don’t fall into this trap.

You don’t have to put on a suit but do bathe and put on clothes (even sweatpants are a step up from pajamas). This helps signal to you that it’s time to work. And, honestly, it helps you avoid feeling like a slob or a slacker. As bestselling author Jon Acuff recently posted on Twitter, “I love pajama pants, too, but they’re a breeding ground for depression. Flannel feels like failure by day 3.”

Keep your house tidy

Say what? I must be crazy suggesting that you worry about having a clean house while trying survive working from home. I’m not saying your home should be spotless. But spend 15 minutes or so each night putting up dishes and tidying up your main living space. Ask the kids to keep their toys in their rooms and to pitch in with household chores, if they don’t already.

Having a clean space will help you stay focused during your working hours. If there’s a mess, you’ll be tempted to tidy up rather than work. Or if you let stuff pile up, you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed about the chaos of your surroundings.

Cut yourself some slack

Having a to-do list, sticking to a schedule, getting out of your jammies and carving out a space to work can make working at home possible. But you don’t have to be too rigid in your approach.

Cut yourself some slack if you don’t mark everything off your to-do list each day. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to let the kids watch more TV than usual so you can meet work deadlines. Hopefully, your work-from-home situation will be temporary – that is, unless you decide like I did that working from home beats working in an office any day.