How to Be Productive at Home During COVID-19 (Tips, Tools)
Being productive at home isn’t that easy, right?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of employees have been forced to get used to working remotely.
And since working from home is new and scary for many people, you need to ensure that your productivity doesn’t fall off a cliff!
But don’t worry.
At ClickUp, our entire team now works remotely too!
But that hasn’t stopped us from being productive and releasing new features every week.
In this article, we’ll tell you how to be more productive at home, and we’ll share a few tools that can help you with your remote work.
And who better to help you accompany you through this journey than one of the most productive actors of all-time – Tom Cruise!
Let’s get this rolling!
Step 1 – Switch to a productive mindset
Ethan Hunt might have had a lot of crazy gadgets in Mission: Impossible…
But we bet that he didn’t have a gadget that could give him an instant productivity boost!
Turns out, one of the ways to be instantly productive is to hack your brain with new habits.
Let’s take a look at a few of these habits that’ll help you switch to a productive mindset:
1. Writing down your goals for the day
Ever wonder why every company has written goals and objectives?
The reason is simple…because they work!
Goal setting can improve self-confidence, increase motivation, and give you a sense of control.
And writing them down serves more benefits.
Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, conducted a study on how goal achievement is influenced by writing, commitment and accountability.
The study showed that people who had written down goals were 33% more successful than those who had only set them in their mind!
So how do you write goals?
When your goal is more concrete – you’ll know exactly what you need to do.
Instead of saying – ‘I will write a blog post today’, explain how you’ll achieve it.
It should be along the lines of – ‘I will write a blog post today by breaking down the content into 4 small sections’.
We bet Tom Cruise wrote down how he’d scale the Burj Khalifa, so he could mentally prepare himself for this stunt!
2. Do the hardest things first
The best way to stay productive?
Eat a live frog early in the morning.
We’re speaking metaphorically, of course!
Eating a frog is a productivity analogy from productivity guru Brian Tracy.
It means that you need to tackle your most daunting tasks at the start of your day.
Remember, the longer you avoid a task – the more stressful it becomes.
Make it a habit to finish the toughest tasks before lunch time. Once you’ve “swallowed the frogs” – the rest of the day is a cakewalk!
3. Make it harder for yourself to mess around on social media
Social media is built to get you hooked.
It’s fast, it’s convenient, and it makes you feel good – which also makes it an annoying distraction.
Don’t you wish your social media accounts could temporarily self-destruct like the message from Mission: Impossible?
Fortunately, there are better ways to prevent social media distractions.
Before you begin your busy work schedule, log out of every account on your browser – or, better yet, use the ‘Incognito mode’ on Chrome.
If you use apps like – Twitter Instagram, and Facebook on your phone – keep your phone in another room while working. This will help you avoid those pesky notifications that get you distracted!
4. Socialize directly with people instead
When we spend long hours at home without talking to another human being, we get trapped in our own little world.
And that can harm our physical well-being and our productivity!
Lack of social connection poses the same risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!
Rather than messaging friends on social media, make time to give your loved ones a ring, even if it’s for a few minutes.
If you’re stressed out at work – consider video conferencing with your loved ones. It gives you an outlet to let off some steam and help you become more resilient to stress in the future.
Step 2 – Reinvent your routine
Working from home does have tons of perks such as the flexible work hours.
And at first, it seems like fun… Going to bed at 4am, working in your pajamas, or having multiple snack breaks…
But after a while, the fun stops.
This lack of routine can lead to lower motivation, anxiety, and even depression!
But there is some good news.
Having a daily routine can boost your mental well-being, so you can focus on staying productive during these tough times.
In the age of social distancing, you can’t stick to your old morning routine – you’ll have to make a new one!
Here are a few productivity tips that can help you kickstart your new daily schedule:
5. No screen time until breakfast
There are two types of people – those who check their phone the first thing in the morning, and liars!
The truth is – over 80% of people check their notifications within 15 minutes of waking up.
And that can hurt your productivity for the entire day.
Starting the morning with distractions sets the tone for a distracted day.
Before you’re fully awake, you overload yourself with information – and that interferes with your ability to prioritize the morning.
In other words, you are bombarding your mind with new messages, and to-dos – which causes stress and anxiety!
Jump into the day by doing something soothing.
Meditating, exercising, or taking a walk in your garden are all great ways to set the tone for a calm and positive morning.
6. Improve your mental well-being with exercise
Hiking, jogging, kayaking, and hitting the gym with David Beckham – that’s what Tom Cruise does every morning to be fighting fit and mentally sharp.
However, you don’t have don’t do all that to get the benefits of exercise!
And it’s not just Tom Cruise who starts his productive day with a workout routine.
Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert, found out that a lot of successful people exercise every morning.
‘If these incredibly busy people make time to exercise, it must be important’, she added.
And we agree with her!
7. Take strategic breaks
The best way to stay productive is to work less.
How do you beat the fatigue?
By taking many tiny breaks throughout the day.
That’s where Pomodoro Technique comes in.
The main idea is to break down your tasks into 25-minute blocks. Between each block, you should take a 5 minute break.
Once you finish four blocks, you can take a 15 minute break!
With this technique, you can do 40 hours worth of work in just 16.7 hours!
8. Create your own closing hours
When you work in an office, you don’t have to worry about losing track of time.
You could be lost in your work, only to be reminded by your colleagues that it’s time for a lunch break.
You don’t get this luxury while working from home.
You would be working on a large project in the afternoon, the next thing you know, it’s 5am!
And you have to ask yourself:
Improve your work life balance with the help of time blocking.
Just like an office, set fixed opening and closing hours for yourself. Set an alarm to indicate that your workday is over and that you need to wrap up your task.
9. Prepare your meals the night before
Due to the lockdown, you’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time chopping, frying, and baking the food you need!
After all, we can’t survive on food deliveries all the time, right?
However, you need to conserve all this time and energy for your work hours instead. So it’s a good idea to prepare your morning meals the night before.
It sounds simple – but it really helps you!
Step 3 – Setting up your home office
When people think about working from home, this is the first image that comes to mind–
We won’t lie – it sounds tempting to work without pants, and from your own cozy bed.
And 80% of working professionals would agree!
But just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s cool.
Whether you know it or not – you make a mental association with work and your office space. In the office, your brain automatically switches to ‘work mode’, which helps you stay focused.
But when you use your bed as a work space, you’ll feel more sluggish – because you associate your bed as a place to rest.
So how to be more productive at home?
It’s easy – you just have to pretend you’re going to an office every morning.
That means you have to take a shower, dress up, grab some coffee, and enter your home office.
Don’t have a home office setup?
No worries, here are a few tips to help you set up your home office:
10. Find a distraction-free office space
If you live alone – this step is really easy.
You can set up your home office in any room you choose!
But when you share your space with family members or friends – pick your spot carefully.
Here’s a checklist to find a productive working environment:
- It must be a quiet room with a door – to ensure no one barges in during work hours
- It should have a window for ventilation and light, so it doesn’t get stuffy
- It should have access to a high-speed internet connection
- It should have enough space for your work equipment
11. Create a comfy home office setup
It can be difficult to get any work done if you’re straining yourself, looking at your computer screen for hours.
And if you’re not sitting in the correct posture – your back is going to have a bad time.
Remember that you are going to spend at least half of your day working – so you have to make sure your office space is comfortable.
It’s time to get rid of that old worn-down chair! Well, maybe not in this way…
Invest in a good ergonomic office chair – as it can lessen muscle fatigue and boost your productivity.
Not comfortable sitting for long hours?
Try an adjustable standing desk to help you get work done while standing up and stretching your legs!
Additionally, consider getting an anti-glare screen in case your office gets a lot of sunlight in the morning.
12. Tidy up your home office
Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in your home office – so will everything you use!
Old coffee cups, paperwork, letters, and other odd knick-knacks can pile up on the desk – leaving you no space to work.
And not just that…
Studies have shown that people who live and work in messy environments – have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol!
But there’s one simple thing that you can do:
At the end of the day, focus at least 10 minutes stowing away unwanted stuff in your storage space.
Trust us, organizing your desk can leave you feeling like this every day:
And when you feel accomplished after decluttering your desk, you are motivated to chase after more goals!
13. Set boundaries
Sometimes, you need to put your foot down and set boundaries between your work life and professional life.
Otherwise, your productivity will take a big tumble.
Here are some ground rules you should lay down:
- Ask your family members or roommates to knock when your home office door is closed
- Schedule playtime after work with your kids so that they don’t feel neglected
- Avoid arrangements which involve working on household chores during work hours
Step 4 – Boost your productivity with the right tools
If you need to tackle tough missions like Ethan Hunt, you would need a tech wiz like Benji.
And if you want to know how to be more productive at home, you need the right tools to help you with your busy schedule.
Let’s a take look at some productivity tools that’ll help you:
14. Manage your workflow with ClickUp
While working remotely on your own seems easy, managing a team remotely is a whole different ball game!
Imagine coordinating with multiple remote employees and figuring out what needs to be done – all from your home office!
Sounds chaotic, right?
Thankfully, ClickUp has everything you need to manage your remote team.
ClickUp is one of the world’s highest-rated remote project management tools. It has all the features you need to manage your tasks or projects.
Here’s how you can use ClickUp to make ‘All the Right Moves’, and organize your workflow:
1. Assign tasks to your remote employees
It’s super easy to assign tasks to your remote workers within ClickUp.
- Add tasks and assign them to individual employees
- Break down tasks into smaller subtasks and checklists to help them tackle specific things
- Prioritize tasks that need to be completed ASAP
2. Easily check project statuses
In an office setting, you can just walk in and ask your team about their progress.
But when you’re working remotely – you can’t call your team every hour for a progress update!
Instead, just use ClickUp to check the statuses yourself!
Every task in ClickUp has a status that indicates what stage the task is in, like – ‘To Do’, ‘In Progress’, ‘Done’.
This way, you can instantly track progress from anywhere – even your couch!
And we know a certain someone who would be delighted with that…
The best thing about these statuses?
ClickUp allows you to create your own custom statuses to suit your workflow!
Let’s suppose you want to take over the elevators of the Burj Khalifa, like Ethan Hunt.
You can create a custom status that shows each step of the process.
You can pick your own colors for each status to make them easier to identify.
Once you’re done, you can save these statuses as a template – so you use them again if you need to!
3. Communicate with your remote employees in real-time
Tired of scheduling video meetings every time you need to have a simple discussion with your team?
Don’t worry, ClickUp will spare you that pain!
In ClickUp, each task has a dedicated comment section, so you can have a real-time discussion about the task.
Your remote team members can even share files, links, and other important data in the comments.
And that’s not all…
You can even assign comments to your employees– to make sure they work on the task immediately!
15. Create a soundtrack for your workday
Bored at work?
Boost your mood with some music!
However, you need to pick your soundtrack carefully.
If you listen to a Spotify playlist of your favorite tunes while you work, it can cause some distractions.
You might be tempted to sing-along and lose focus on the task at hand!
You need to pick the right background music, depending on the nature of your work:
- Going through your inbox? Listening to some high-tempo pop hits to get a speed boost
- Working on a tight deadline? Tune in to some smooth, relaxing jazz to let the stress melt away
However, if you miss the office chatter while working from home, we recommend Noisli.
It generates background noise like that of a coffee shop or a cityscape that can drown out the distractions.
Even after the pandemic slows down, thousands of businesses will continue to work remotely.
So if there is any time to start being more productive at home – it’s now!
However, just like Jerry Maguire, you need a partner to help you be better and stay productive.
So why not suit up with remote project management tools like ClickUp?
It has all the features you need to manage your remote workers, manage your work schedule, and stay focused at work. You can easily:
- Create and assign tasks and priorities
- Have real-time conversations about those tasks within ClickUp
- Check the status and progress of those tasks.
- Use numerous integrations to have video calls, track time and so on.
That’s all that you need in a tool to be productive at home!
Sign up for ClickUp today for free and take on those impossible missions!