I always used to think that I didn't get much done when working from home - I'd often pop out to the store to pick up groceries, take a nap, make phone calls to friends and watch the occasional TV show when bored. And I never felt particularly stressed. However, I managed to build the foundation of Banter Media from the confines of my apartment, and looking back, I was actually pretty productive. I now work out of an office most of the time - I definitely feel productive, but part of that is because I can get up and go whenever I please and don't have anyone telling me what to do. I also regularly take days off and work from home - and I believe my productivity has improved quite substantially with the new mix. Many years ago, I had a real office job, and almost went insane from keeping such a regimented schedule. I left (probably before I got fired) to go freelance and haven't looked back since.
As it turns out, my theories on work and productivity turn out to be right. From BusinessWeek:
Based on a survey of 1,013 American office workers, conducted in June by Wakefield Research, 43 percent watch TV or a movie and 20 percent play video games while officially working from home. Parents are more likely than those without children to partake in these two activities, which aren’t work-related.
Employees might not even be sober: 24 percent admit to having a drink. Twenty-six percent say they take naps. Others are distracted by housekeeping: 35 percent do household chores; 28 percent cook dinner.
Yet despite all the distractions, telecommuters are actually more productive than their peers in the office, according to preliminary findings from Stanford University’s study of a Chinese travel agency.
So, you can watch TV, take naps, call your friends and not feel guilty about it - you're doing more work than the 9-5ers all in one go.