24 Unique Work-From-Home Tips for Newbies

April 29, 2020
Angela Ash

You’ve probably seen about a hundred different posts that claim to include some of the best tips for working at home. And sure, they let you know that you should stick to certain hours, and they might include a few ideas on time management. But you already knew most of that, didn’t you? So, after all, were these really “unique” work-from-home tips?

Just as a good piece of content requires a strategic SEO campaign, working from home for the first time can be extremely difficult to some. If you’re a seasoned remote worker, then you may have things down to an absolute science. However, it can be a big adjustment to effectively put together a list of tasks for the day, stay motivated and steer clear of distractions — and when you’re working from home, there are plenty!

Now, let’s jump in and take a look at a few tips that can even help regular remote workers, as well as pave the way to success for the newbies. Some of these may contradict one another, but this is by design. Not everyone works in the same manner, so the same tips don’t always apply. Choose which ones work best for YOU. These will include words of wisdom from work-from-home experts, such as:

1. Take in the Morning Bliss

“After you wake up, give yourself at least 30 minutes to not look at emails, Skype or Slack. Otherwise, this can be a stressful way to start your day wrong.”

Kean Graham, MonetizeMore

2. Set Up Your “New Office”

“While you can work from the couch for a couple of days, a long-term space is necessary given the expected length of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Here are a few of the key items and aspects of that space that have worked for me: 

  • Get a desk that has enough space for you and a chair that is comfortable and encourages good posture. These, aside from the equipment you need to work, are the most important things. You will be sitting in that chair for 40 hours a week. It’s worth the investment. 
  • While it’s best to have a dedicated office, if this isn’t realistic, then you should at least try to find a secluded space away from things such as televisions, roaming family members and distracting noises. 
  • Invest in good lighting. Try your best to have natural light coming into your office, and find some good lamps or lights for the evening hours. Eye strain is not conducive to productive work. Remove clutter. While we understand this might be hard if you’re improvising a space, then do what you can and organize with what space you have available. I felt better and more focused from just 10 minutes of cleaning.”

Laura Fuentes, Infinity Dish

3. Don’t Skimp on Your Wi-Fi Package

If you want to be productive when working from home, I suggest investing in a quality internet package. If you’re working from home, the number one thing you want to avoid is technical interruptions. Not only will they frustrate you since they’ll impede your work, but if your work begins to lag, it might lead you to further distractions. For instance, if a webpage isn’t loading or a particular software is taking forever to download, you might end up doing something else that will distract you from your work goals. Also, if you’re called-upon to join a virtual meeting, you don’t want to be the employee whose camera quality lags and disrupts the flow of the meeting.

Garry Browning, QuickSilk

4. Make Virtual Meetings More Productive

“As with in-person meetings, make sure all scheduled meetings have an agenda. Remote meetings can feel like they’ve gone totally off the rails if you don’t have a focus for what the meeting’s about and what it’s supposed to accomplish. If you’re the meeting planner, check on who is (and isn’t) speaking. If everyone hasn’t chimed in, near the end of the meeting, it’s OK to call on people who haven’t spoken and make sure to give them airtime.

Once business is out of the way, embrace that we’re giving coworkers a glimpse into our lives outside of work. Let them meet your family, roommates and four-legged friends. It’s OK if they ask about the art on your wall or want to share a laugh about the dead plant they see behind you on the windowsill. This is an amazing opportunity for us to get to know our teammates in new and unexpected ways — as complete humans who are going through a challenging time together, not just coworkers.” 

Josh Zerkel, Asana

5. Become the Best Planner in the Room

Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. I take 2-3 hours to plan out everything I want to get done for the week and section off the time I will use to accomplish those tasks. This helps me prioritize my tasks not only by what is most important, but what can only be done at a certain time of day, or what is easier to get done earlier or later in the day. 

The more you plan, the more effective you will be. I section off times to look at my emails, cell phone, etc., so I’m not distracted by something in my inbox or a random push notification. By doing this, I can put 100% focus into what I’m doing at that point in time. Because I’m working from home, I also need to section off when to take the dog for a walk, have lunch, etc., too. 

I have always thrived when I have some structure, and working from home offers a unique opportunity to build your own structure that can be a fun puzzle if you look at it the right way.”

John Kohout, Hudson Wealth Management

6. Have the Right Tools

“Project management tools like Trello and Asana can help you stay the course when it comes to just getting things right. With these types of tools, you’ll have a good understanding of what you need to do, and at what stage each project is in, or if you need input from others to complete tasks. Task management tools like Todoist and Wunderlist can be helpful for tackling to-dos, especially for visual people who like to look at a clear overview of what needs to be prioritized or if there are upcoming deadlines. Time trackers like The Pomodoro Tracker and Toggl can improve your time spent on different projects or just work in general. 

While teleworking lends itself to a lot of autonomy and independence, it can actually really help your productivity to collaborate with others. On one hand, working with a large team that relies on you and vice versa can give you some accountability for completing tasks on time. But it can also cure some of the side effects of working at home. Collaboration tools make working with remote teams a non-issue. In many ways, they can encourage us to be more transparent and efficient at work. Internal communication apps like Slack, doc sharing platforms such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Basecamp, and video conferencing tools including Zoom or GoToMeeting can make collaboration easier than ever.”

Badr Berrada, BBN Times

7. DO Curb Your Expectations (Not Your Enthusiasm)

“You are at home now, so trying to adhere to the same schedule you had at your office is impossible; the sooner you accept this and adapt your calendar to this new reality, the better. Rather than torture yourself trying to avoid all of the distractions that come with a home office, just modify your schedule to accommodate them. These days, I get up earlier and have a much longer ‘work day,’ but I factor in time for more breaks throughout. I take a longer lunch, I read the paper for 30 minutes each morning, I pay a few bills, etc. My days and nights may look a lot different than an average brick-and-mortar office day, but in the end, I probably work the same amount of hours, if not more.

DJ Haddad, Haddah & Partners

8. Create a “Getting to Work Ritual”

When working from home, create some kind of a transition into work. When you work from an office, you have some sort of a ‘bridge’ before you start working, be it a bus ride to the office or the act of turning on your computer and making your morning coffee.

That’s what I recommend for working from home as well — creating some sort of a ritual that puts you in work mode. For myself, that means preparing coffee, opening up my laptop and getting the window blinds open. Once that happens, I’m in work mode and ready to be as productive as ever. Moreover, you can come up with a closing moment as well — something that closes off your day.”

Dmytro Okunyev, Chanty

9. Utilize Time-Blocking Methods

During the actual workday itself, I’ve found blocking my time out with a timer very helpful to encourage me to focus on the task at hand, especially on days where I might be feeling a bit less motivated from being stuck in the house. I think the first few weeks of home working are where most people are feeling the most motivated, naturally, but after back-to-back weeks of seeing the same four walls, a bit more encouragement is needed to pull you back into a good routine.

Using the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes on, 5 minutes off), really helps block out time and can even prevent any distractions from home pulling you out of a productive workflow. I’ve been keeping track of this with a free app on my phone for the past couple of weeks, and it’s been brilliant at keeping my focus maintained on projects. Once you are in a good flow, the 5 minutes off doesn’t have to be used as a break if you are in the zone. Sometimes, I’ll skip a couple of breaks and use the time I’ve built up as time for a tea break and to stretch my legs.”

Eleanor Bennett, Logit.io

10. Hold Each Other Accountable

Since I began working remotely, I’ve been relying on various productivity tools heavily. My recent finding is the Focusmate app. It connects you to a random person, and you both work non-stop for 50 minutes with your web camera on. This reduces temptation to procrastinate, as you kind of control each other.

The app is great. But it actually gave me an idea that we can practice this approach inside our team as well. Why not call each other once a day and work on urgent tasks together for at least an hour? This way, we won’t feel so lonely during our work day and motivate each other to be more productive.”

Anastasiia Khlystova, HelpCrunch

11. Set Time for “Busy Work”

“Choose which day, either at the beginning of the week or the end, where you will finish all your ‘busywork’. Busy work is just work that you can’t dive into, and won’t immediately yield results as you complete them. Or it’s work that shows up on your to-do list repeatedly and never truly goes away. Don’t let them break up your workflow. Tackle them all at once when you have the time.”

Rhea HenryEnergyRates.ca

12. Don’t Neglect Your Housework

Schedule time before and after work to do some chores. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to stay focused when you know there’s just one place on the counter you want to wipe down. With a lack of commute time, you now have more time to get some housework done, but don’t let it eat up your workday as well!”

MK Andersen, Your Day by MK

13. Change Your View

A weird personal tip that I started doing during COVID-19: I scrapped the idea of having a designated workspace and started to use my imagination. Yes, I have my home base I start with each morning, but what I loved most about working remotely before COVID-19 was bouncing around town, trying out coffee shops, lunch spots, coworking spaces… and going for walks in new neighborhoods. So, I’m trying to bring that feeling to my house. When I make a cup of coffee or tea, I drink it (while working) at a different part of my house. Iced coffee is on the back patio and tea is in my “parlor.”.I literally pack my computer back and go to different areas as if I’m walking into a different shop. I make smoothies as snacks, so when I do that, I drink my smoothie at the kitchen island (it’s important to take standing breaks) and pretend I’m at the smoothie shop. This is more effective when my husband makes the smoothie for me.”

Cassie Damascus, Clipboard Health

14. Schedule Your Own Distractions

“Schedule some distractions. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes: Netflix, laundry, little people wanting more goldfish crackers. They are everywhere. So, prepare for it. Create windows of time during your work day when you just turn work off, whether it’s 15 minutes or 90 minutes. Shut it down for your wellbeing. And for those around you. Back away from your laptop, stand up, get away from your desk and literally walk away. 

Communicate to your wee ones, to your team or your boss whenever your planned breaks are, and keep those break times! If you were in a corporate office, you would most likely meet coworkers for 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. coffee breaks or gathering by one person’s office (what used to be ‘smoke breaks’), and you would step away to the lunch room or restaurant for lunch. Those breaks do a lot for your mental and emotional well being and give you a reset point before digging back into work. 

For the most part, we are rhythmic people. Make note of your natural rhythms and those peak performance times and communicate those to your team and those around you because you might find that you get more done from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. than most people get done all day. Protect that time. 

If you have really little kids (and it is possible with regard to their safety), set up a stop light system. Red means stay far away unless you’re bleeding, you’re on fire or someone is drowning. Green means ‘come on in, I can be interrupted,’ and yellow means knock first because I’m working on something and I need that pause before I can let you come in.”

Trivinia Barber, Priority VA

15. “Feel” the Space

A situation I face working from home, as many others do, is working in a room with either limited light, space or both. One tip to avoid feeling gloomy in a small dark room is to use a mirror to capture extra light from your window. This has two benefits: one is to make the room lighter, and the other is to make it feel more spacious. As your eyes see the reflection of the mirror, it is interpreted by your mind as more space in your room.”

Rupert Pople, Your Smart Home Guide

16. Be “Human” Together

“One of the more creative and delightful ways of staying connected is by coordinating a video chat to talk about life outside of work. BHT is now a standing, optional half-hour weekly time slot at Truss. It is one of the favorite parts of the week for some of the Trussels. Here’s how it works:

  • If under nine participants, each person gets two minutes to talk about anything at all they want to (but talking about work is lightly discouraged).
  • If it’s more than nine participants, a quick check-in happens on how people are feeling, and then breakout groups of three or four people each for a deeper dive. (Zoom has a feature to randomly create breakout groups).

We also sometimes have a prompt:

  • What’s one story about you that you think really represents what you’re like?
  • What is your favorite pizza topping?
  • What’s the story behind your name?
  • What GIF are you today?”

Everett Harper, Truss

17. Turn Up the Radio

“Something that always gets me motivated to work from home is to have the radio on. I think because I always have it on in the shop, it makes me feel more at home. There’s some noise and distraction, and it just helps me concentrate. If people are working in a quiet environment after working somewhere that’s generally more loud or busy, I would really recommend doing this. It may not be helpful to have music on, but a channel where someone is just talking may help you get back to your normal work self and keep going in this situation.”

Michael Lowe, Car Passionate

18. Stop Being So hard on Yourself

Especially important for those working from home during COVID-19: The best advice I’ve received is to be forgiving of yourself and of others. The mute button is your friend, but don’t panic if your coworkers hear your child talking or a dog barking in the background. They’re likely working from home as well, and may be caring for a child or elderly parent during the pandemic. We are all adjusting to this new, unusual circumstance together.”

Corey Cyphert, University of Pittsburgh

19. Have a “Work Only” Device

“One way to be more productive when working from home is to get a separate device just for work. Ideally, you should grab your work laptop if you can. There is a problem if you use the same laptop for work and fun… Every time you grab your laptop to get some work done, Netflix is a tab away, and so is YouTube, eBay, Instagram and all of the other fun websites out there. You can physically separate your work and your free time by using a separate device where you keep all of your work files and accounts. Once you close that laptop, you’re done with work for the day.”

Dennis Vu, Ringblaze

20. Use the 2-Minute Rule

If a task takes less than 2 minutes to do, then do it right now. This rule helps you churn out ‘wins’ throughout the day that make you feel good, further boosting your productivity and motivation, while preventing small numerous tasks from building up and causing existential overhead that can bog you down.”

Jayson DeMers, EmailAnalytics

21. Sharing Time With Your Fur Babies

“Some pets may take advantage of your sudden availability and assume your calendar is wide open for petting and attention. Work? What work?

Your pet doesn’t know or care that you have just as much work to do and three Zoom meetings today. When you’re talking on the phone, they might assume you’re talking to them!

So, what can you do to help keep your pet off your computer keyboard or from trying to play or snuggle while you’re working?

  • Tire your pet out early. Engage in some preventative measures by setting up exercise and activities for your pet BEFORE you need to work. A few minutes of playtime with a feather wand, followed by some treats in a food puzzle are a great way to get your pet to settle down for a nap. A tired pet is a happy pet who is hopefully not climbing all over you while you work.
  • Take breaks for snuggles. We all need to take work breaks to stretch and clear our minds. That’s a great time to give your dog or cat some more playtime.
  • Provide distractions during important calls. Automated toys, food puzzles, a cardboard box with some tissue paper and treats inside to explore can all give your cat something to do. Even something as simple as moving a chair or cat condo to a new window can capture your cat’s interest for a few important minutes!
  • Give your cat a better place to hang out than your keyboard. For example, put a heated bed on a chair near your desk (or even on your desk if you have the room) to give your pet a highly desirable place to lay instead of on you. 
  • Don’t reward behavior you don’t want to continue. If your cat meows or dog barks at you and you talk back, pet them or even yell at them, that may be the response they are looking for! Reward good behaviors (being calm, quiet) with treats or praise.
  • Close the door…but be ready for protest. Keep in mind all of the previously mentioned suggestions. If your pet is scratching at the door, you should ignore them, and if necessary, you can place a mild deterrent, such as a piece of cardboard with sticky tape, right outside the door. This will make it unpleasant for your cat to “protest” by the door.”

Nicole Ellis, Rover.com

22. Get in Some Motion

Although most of us will certainly not miss the daily commute, it is a great way to wake up and wind down, signalling to your body when to switch on and off to work. So, it can be a great way to simulate the commute in your WFH day. Start and end each day with 30 minutes of exercise — nothing too strenuous, but enough to clear your mind. Activities with meditation are perfect, like yoga or maybe even pilates, but a short run, walk or workout will also do the trick. Continuing this routine every working day will help to reduce stress, increase motivation and boost your productivity (whilst combatting the home office snacking we are all guilty of!).”

Julian Jost, Spacebase

23. Eat Healthy Snacks

“Surprisingly, our ability to focus while working from home is significantly impacted by our diet and eating habits. Are you a snacker? You’re more likely to take more frequent breaks to snack on foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. These foods may give temporary energy, but will cause inflammation and lead to a crash. It is best to fuel your body and mind with food that will enhance your ability to stay focused, rather than inhibit it. 

Consider having a fruit smoothie on work days. Blueberries, and other berries rich in antioxidants, increase short- and long-term cognition. Their antioxidant abilities enable them to fight free radical damage, especially in the brain. Antioxidants also help reduce inflammation in the body. This inflammation caused by a bad diet causes brain fog and fatigue. 

Omega fatty acids can be found in nuts, seeds and fatty fish. This good fat helps to reduce damaging inflammation, while also fueling your brain with a high-quality source of macronutrient to support brain health.”

Lisa Richards, The Candida Diet

24. Maintain Workplace Culture

“When you’re working from home, there’s no reason why you can’t keep up with coworker relationships and company culture! If you normally have a monthly happy hour or a quarterly event, you can still have them, just virtually. You can get creative with themed virtual happy hours or multiplayer online games. Even if it’s a thread of movies to watch or podcasts to check out, maintaining some socialization is great for morale.”

Karen Gordon, Goodshuffle Pro

The main thing to keep in mind is that we all may be working from home for some time. And, depending on your industry, you may even eventually be given the option to commute to the office or stay at home in your slippers, depending on how productive you are during this situation. So, as you can see, there’s a lot riding on what some are calling the remote working “experiment,” especially for those of us who fall into the category of loving their newly found freedom. In fact, a recent study from Waveform shows that 60.4% of new remote workers prefer it to their traditional office environment, among other interesting statistics.

These unique work-from-home tips are highly actionable, so you can start implementing them, well, right now! This is an important time for every company on the planet, so doing your absolute best for your clients is imperative. 

Whether you’re working with keyword intent on a daily basis or saving the world by putting out the next big tech surprise, your work at home is just as important as what was once going on in that corner office. After all, we’re going to get through this together, right?



Angela Ash
Managing content and publicity even when she sleeps, Angela also writes poetry, plays the piano, travels, loves on her two feline fur balls and can even beat Mickey Mouse at Disney trivia
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