Looking for some no-nonsense work from home tips that really work?
The Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures have really disrupted things around the world.
From toilet paper shortages to Halloween masks in April, things have changed a lot! And one of the most significant changes has been the shift to working from home.
But wait, there’s a problem.
Your home’s not an ideal work space!
After all, there are tons of distractions around you — from Facebook and Netflix to a family member who annoys you like Roland Schitt.
But don’t worry!
If you’re trying to figure out how to work from home, we’ve got you covered.
At ClickUp, our entire team is now remote. Yet we are releasing new features every week and churning out 20 blog articles a month! And we‘ll share our top remote work tips in this post!
To start, we’ll show why working from home isn’t as bad as most people think. Then we’ll highlight ten practical work from home tips that’ll keep your distractions at bay and help you stay at your productive best during this pandemic!
This article contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to a specific tip)
- Why working from home isn’t as bad as you think
- Ten practical work from home tips in 2020
- Create a dedicated work space
- Get a good internet connection
- Lay out guidelines for other people in your space
- Determine your most productive hours
- Set a morning routine and follow it
- Plan your day as you would in the office
- Schedule breaks and take them fully
- Minimize all forms of distractions
- Dress for the job even if you’re telecommuting
- Use the right apps to manage your work
Let’s get rolling.
Why working from home isn’t as bad as you think
We get it.
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way most employees work — especially for those who only needed a computer to work, like social media managers and customer support reps.
One moment you’re working from your office space and the next thing you know, you’re working from home!
While this caught some of us off guard, remote working (also known as telecommuting) has been around for decades!
It’s a popular lifestyle among anyone involved with freelance or remote jobs, like a virtual assistant or a digital nomad.
While many people choose to work remotely from a coffee shop or co-working space, it’s not an option anymore due to the pandemic!
Now, everyone has to use their homes instead!
But that doesn’t mean it has to be a problem.
Remember, remote workers have been dealing with issues like these for decades:
- Browsing Twitter or Facebook instead of working
- Taking frequent snack breaks
- Working from uncomfortable, unusual places
- Facing erratic Wi Fi and power outages
- Communicating with coworkers who are thousands of miles away
The point is, working remotely isn’t impossible.
And if you’re confused about how to work from home, you don’t have to worry.
If Alexis could run her PR agency from a motel room, you should be able to work from home too!
10 effective work from home tips in 2020
Here are ten tips on how to work from home productively (with inputs from Alexis herself!):
1. Create a dedicated work space
Sure, working from home gives you a lot of benefits like added work space flexibility.
But flexible work doesn’t mean that you can work from your kitchen table, couch or bed!
Yes, your bed is comfy, and you might think you’re one of the few people who’ll be able to be productive from their bed.
But seriously David, who are we kidding?
Your brain associates your bed and couch as an opportunity to relax. So unless you’re taking a power nap, don’t even think about getting into your bed to work!
Your work space must be a no-relaxation zone — a place where you can focus solely on your work and nothing else.
If you have a dedicated office space at home, that’s great.
If not, just find a quiet, private space where you can work productively.
Just ensure that you have a proper desk, an ergonomic chair and a background that’s fit for video conferencing. Oh, and maybe place a few office supplies and a small plant on your desk to make it feel like you’re at your work desk itself!
Bonus Tip: Some video conferencing tools let you set custom call backgrounds. Instead of your boring wall, you can now have the beautiful Rosebud Motel from Schitt’s Creek as your background!
2. Get a good internet connection
Are you using a slow internet connection in 2020?
That’s the only appropriate response.
When you work remotely, your work space is your responsibility.
And having a high-speed internet (whether it’s Wi Fi or ethernet) should be your top priority.
You can also try sitting close to the router, disconnecting unused devices from the network or using Wi Fi range extenders to speed things up a bit.
Bonus tip: Invest in a backup internet service so that in case if your internet provider acts up, you’ll still have an alternate Wi Fi source.
3. Lay out guidelines for other people in your space
Some of us share our living space with others, like how the Roses shared two small, connected rooms in the motel.
And if you don’t lay any ground rules, someone could just barge into your remote team meeting, asking you to help them with some at-home work:
Want to avoid this?
Going on a video call for a Scrum meeting?
Give the people around you a heads-up! This is especially important when you share space with others who do work-at-home jobs.
Tell them your work hours or how your work schedule for the day is.
This way, they’re less likely to interrupt you during work.
Let people know that as much as you value their relationships, you have work that needs your attention. And if that means setting stricter boundaries, you may have to do just that.
Additionally, if you have toddlers, engage them with activities that don’t require you to be always around them. Don’t forget to reward them if they don’t interrupt you throughout your day!
A win-win situation for both parties!
(Although, you may run out of treats soon because who can say no to those cute little faces?!)
4. Determine your most productive hours
Some days Moira is full of energy, but other days she just wants to hide in her closet.
Your productivity is pretty much like her — it has its ups and downs each day.
When you’re at your productive best, you’ll be able to complete things quickly and efficiently.
But when you’re in your least productive state, filling in your email address might feel like a math olympiad!
That’s why you should determine when you’re productive during your remote work timings and then build your schedule around that.
Keep tasks that require your undivided attention, like going through an Agile project management workflow document, for your peak productivity hours. Other tasks, like replying to an email from a freelancer, can be scheduled for your less productive hours.
5. Set a morning routine and follow it
When you’re telecommuting, it’s super easy for your daily routine to get disrupted.
You don’t have to deal with the morning commute anymore, so why not catch up on an extra hour of sleep?
While there’s nothing wrong with that, your lack of routine will lead you down a rabbit hole of unproductivity — ultimately affecting your work and personal life.
Plus, not all of us have someone like Stevie for an alarm clock!
So here are some pointers to help you set a routine and stick to it:
- Wake up at the same time every day (ideally, somewhere between 6–8 am)
- Avoid checking social media immediately after waking up
- Do some light exercise like yoga or just cleaning your room in the morning
- Take a shower and get dressed (yes, dress for the job even if you work remotely)
- Eat a wholesome breakfast (from the kitchen table and not from your bed or couch)
- Set goals for the rest of your day as part of your morning routine
Your daily routine depends on what works best for you — what fits well in the morning of a full-time employee may not necessarily work for someone doing part-time work. So keep that in mind when scheduling your routine and stick to it.
6. Plan your day as you would in the office
Now that you’re working remotely, how do you plan your workday?
It doesn’t matter if you work part-time positions or full-time positions; plan your day just as you would in the office.
Determine what you’ll be working on, prioritize those tasks based on how urgent they are and build a schedule for the day. Also, don’t forget to map them according to your productive hours!
But how do you keep track of your remote work schedule?
Sure, that used to work back in 1997, but the world has moved on since then!
Instead, you need tools like ClickUp and Google Calendar to help you plan your days and stay on schedule. You should also discuss tasks with your coworkers or supervisors as you usually would in an office space.
If you’re part of a team, check-in with your colleagues to know what they’re working on for the day. This way, you’ll know how things are moving, even if you’re not in the same room as your coworkers.
7. Schedule breaks and ensure that you take them
While working hours for hours at a stretch may seem productive, it’s actually not.
If you take that route, you’ll probably burn out by the end of the day!
So what can you do instead?
Take short breaks in between your work hours.
For example, you could work for an hour and then take a 30-minute break.
Browse social media, have a lunch break, attend to personal life responsibilities or just get up from your desk and stretch!
This way, you’ll be able to refresh your mind and body — helping you better focus on your work and giving you a better life balance.
If your working hours are flexible, create a flexible schedule with sufficient breaks in between.
But remember to take the break in its entirety.
I mean, wolfing down your lunch just to cut your lunch break short and get back to work isn’t going to help.
You’re just going to waste more time in the bathroom as a result!
Bonus Tip: Drink plenty of water during your breaks to stay hydrated and be more productive. Keep a bottle of water on your desk and take occasional sips while you’re working.
8. Minimize all forms of distractions
From Schitt’s Creek to Money Heist, Netflix hates productivity.
Okay, maybe it doesn’t hate it, but it doesn’t contribute to productivity either!
But it’s not just Netflix that could distract you when you’re working from home.
Anything that interrupts your work is a distraction.
Loud TV? Distraction.
Looking at social media posts, stumbling across interesting Facebook Ads, scrolling on Twitter? Distractions!
So how do you avoid them?
Here are some ways you could steer clear of these distractions:
- Use noise cancelling headphones to mute out loud TV, noisy children, or any sound that affects your train of thought
- Use tools like StayFocused to block non-work related websites like Netflix, Facebook or Twitter while you’re working
- Keep your phone away or just switch it off when you start working
- Use productivity apps that improve your concentration, like Brain.fm, Headspace, etc. to help you focus on your work
9. Dress for the job even if you’re telecommuting
Thinking about working in your pajamas?
Hold that thought right now.
While you don’t have to dress like Moira, you need to wear something that’ll put you in the right mindset for work.
Wear something comfy, yet appropriate for work.
This way, you’ll be ready for any video chat coming your way — be it project meetings or just a regular check-in with your colleagues.
Even if you live alone and your job doesn’t require any explainer videos or conferencing, you could dress up to give your brain a nudge that it’s time to work.
10. Use the right tools to manage your work
Maintaining productivity and having high-speed internet access aren’t the only challenges you’ll face when you work remotely.
Remember, Alexis ran her PR agency from a tiny motel room!
So how did she:
- Manage her tasks and projects?
- Communicate with her team?
- Hold project discussions and team meetings?
- Manage her business in addition to helping her mother avoid multi-level marketing scams?
Luckily, all she needed was the right set of apps!
Here’s what all remote workers need right now:
A. Task management tools like ClickUp
Used by 100,000+ teams in companies from startups to corporate giants like Google, Netflix, Airbnb and Nike, it has everything you need to manage your tasks and projects remotely.
(While we’ve not been able to confirm it, there are rumors that the Roses use ClickUp to manage all their businesses.)
Here’s how ClickUp helps remote teams function without any hiccups:
1. Quickly assign tasks to anyone in your team
In ClickUp, assigning tasks to your team members is a piece-of-cake!
Just create a task and click on the assign icon to assign it to a specific member.
You can also:
- Add and assign subtasks within tasks to make them easier to complete
- Assign task priorities to let your team know which task they should tackle immediately
- Customize access rights to share tasks with clients or non-team members like a virtual assistant or freelancer without compromising your privacy
2. Know which stage your tasks are in with a single glance
Confused about how to track your tasks when you’re working remotely?
With ClickUp’s custom task statuses, that’s super easy!
It lets you create customized task stages that are relevant to your project. For example, you can create a “visual design” stage for your website development project. This way, you’re not limited to irrelevant statuses that don’t reflect your progress.
All you (and your team) then need to do is look at a task’s status to know what stage it’s in!
3. Keep track of who’s working on what remotely
While you can text or video call your virtual assistant or colleagues to know what they’re working on, ClickUp has a better way to check in on your team — the Box view.
Johnny uses this view to know:
- Who’s working on what tasks?
- What has been completed so far?
- Who has a lighter workload, and who’s neck-deep in work?
This way, he can move tasks around to ensure that everyone has an even workload distribution.
Similarly, you’ll be able to distribute tasks to your team quickly and prevent anyone from being overworked.
4. Have task-specific discussions with your team
Each ClickUp task has a dedicated comment section to help colleagues collaborate over their tasks.
You can share task details like files or links and even tag team members in your comments. ClickUp also lets you assign comments to anyone in your team so that they act on it immediately — ensuring that your comments never go overlooked!
B. Instant messaging tools like Slack
You need to cut your remote team a bit of slack for them to perform well!
Slack is an instant messaging tool that’s perfect for remote companies and teams to manage their conversations.
It comes with various features like:
- Channels: categorize your conversations based on teams, projects and more
- Reminders: set reminders for any events, deadlines, files or messages
- Audio and video calls: have quick audio or video calls with your team members to explain any task or project
The best part?
ClickUp has a powerful Slack integration that helps your remote team easily collaborate over to-do lists, tasks, calendars, reminders and more!
- Google Chat: a team messaging tool with audio and video chat features
- Fleep: a messenger tool that helps remote coworkers communicate with each other
C. Video chat tools like Google Meet
While Google Hangouts (now Google Meet) used to be the go-to video chat tool in G Suite, it’s now been rebranded as Google Meet.
Meet is a video conferencing tool that fits remote companies of all sizes.
Some of its features include:
- Video calls: host one-on-one or group video calls for project meetings, performance reviews and more with your remote employees
- Join a meeting using your phone: dial in to a video meeting for audio-only access
- Join from a Google Calendar event: quickly join scheduled video calls from your Calendar
Meet helps remote workers stay connected even if they’re continents apart — exactly how Alexis talked with Ted while he was away on his Galapagos trip!
- Zoom: The popular tool you already know (integrates with ClickUp too!)
- Eyeson: a video conferencing tool for quick meetings with your remote team
- Microsoft Teams: Microsoft’s popular video chat app for remote companies
D. Productivity management tools like Time Doctor
When your team works remotely, how do you track the time they take to finish a specific task?
With a tool like Time Doctor!
Time Doctor is a productivity management tool that helps users track the time they’re spending on their tasks and projects. Managers can also use it to monitor their remote employees during working hours to ensure that they’re actually working and not binging Schitt’s Creek on Netflix!
Here’s how it helps with remote working:
- Web and app monitoring: identify the websites and apps your team uses while they’re working and how long they spend on them
- Distraction management: prevent your remote workers from watching Netflix or browsing Facebook during working hours
- Detailed reports: use tons of advanced reports to analyze your team’s productivity and identify what to improve
- ClickUp integration: use TimeDoctor to track how long it takes your team to complete their tasks and projects within ClickUp
- Clockify: a simple time tracker for remote teams
- ClickUp: use the Chrome extension to track the time your remote employees spend on their tasks
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, working from home is no longer an option — it’s a necessity.
And while your home may not be the best work environment, you can always turn it into a productive one!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a customer service rep or a social media manager, you can use the work from home tips we listed to quickly shift gears and adapt to your new work life.
And if you want to make remote working a breeze without any of the chaos, why not sign up for ClickUp today?
It has everything you need to manage your tasks, collaborate with your remote team and stay super productive — like your very own multi-talented Rose family!
Erica is ClickUp’s Senior Content Manager and professional beach bum. She spends her days creating emails, blogs, landing pages, and more to help people increase their productivity so they can save one day every week to do more of what they love.