Being a full-time independent author sounds like a dream gig for most people with brick-and-mortar jobs. Set your own schedule, toss out your alarm clock, take days off when you want: it's the dream of everyone who's ever had a boss. The reality's not that simple, though. Having your office in your home may seem convenient and simple, but it's an invitation to overworking. After all, when you can't go home from work, when does your work day really end? If you end up with spare time at the end of the day, shouldn't you put in some more work? This way leads to guilty thinking every time you take time away from the keyboard, which leads to burnout. The key to avoiding this is to set limits and treat writing like any other job.
Set Your Schedule
When you go to a regular job, you check in and out at a certain time, and have periods for breaks and lunch. If someone asked you to go back to work after you got home, you'd probably laugh and refuse. After all, you're off work, right? Defining work and off time should be your main goal in creating a schedule. Decide what time you'll start work, whether it's 7:00 in the morning or noon. Write it into a calendar, or use an electronic reminder. Write down break times, lunch time, and the time you'll finish for the day. Choose what day's you'll follow this schedule, but designate one or two days each week as days off. You can't work every single day in the year without your writing suffering from it.
Organize Your Day
Begin with a random list of everything you need to do during the day, from eating breakfast to finishing your next chapter. Arrange the list with the most important items at the top of the list. Break each task up into hourly chunks and place them on a schedule, most important items first. If you don't have room for everything, set aside some tasks for the next day or eliminate some completely. Don't give up your lunch or adjust your quitting time. Those are set in stone.
Vary Your Day
Schedule a fun hour to read, exercise on the beach, or drink coffee in the back yard once a week. After all, what good is being an author and working from home if you can't indulge yourself once in a while? Set a timer, though, and get right back to work when your break is done.
Reward Constructive Work Days
If you get all your tasks done early and reach your word count for the day, treat yourself and take the rest of the day off. Don't think of doing extra work just in case you get behind later. Just don't let yourself get behind. Taking off work before your usual quitting time may make you feel guilty, at first, but if you've truly done all the work needed for the day, shut it down and enjoy yourself. You deserve it.
Keep the Faith and May The Force be with You!