COVID-19 has brought us a new normal. In many places in the world, people are under lockdown. This means that we’re now living mostly indoors – only going out for grocery run, some outdoor exercise, or getting in-person medical care. The lucky ones who still get to keep their jobs are forced to work at home.
While most employers previously frowned upon this idea, we are now seeing more and more people doing remote work. What’s interesting is that most employers veered away from this setup thinking that it’ll bring down productivity levels.
But with what this pandemic has shown us, working from home seems to be a blessing in disguise after all! According to the article on Business News Daily titled “Working from Home Increases Productivity,” people working from home worked 1.4 more days compared to those working in the office within a month. That’s equivalent to over three more weeks of work in a year. 
Now whether you’re working remotely because of this pandemic or been part of a remote team a long while ago, or a full-time freelancer, you would find that working from home has its own challenges. With the various distractions present at home, which may be coupled with the absence of a proper work setup, you may have found it hard to be productive at some point.
We feel you. So here are some ways you can eliminate distractions and be more productive in your day.
Not physically seeing the people you work with doesn’t mean you should stop communications. In fact, it’s the opposite. Regular communication with others can get rid of the feeling of isolation and loneliness in working from home.
Set up a system of regular communication with your team and boss. Whether it’s a 5-minute check-in first thing in the morning, or a weekly video conference with the team, keeping the constant flow of communication will help bridge the gap that remote working brings.
Try to mix it up.If you find yourself sitting in front of the screen most days, why not mix it up by scheduling calls here and there? That way, you can avoid the feeling of isolation. Now may also be the best time to touch base with your previous clients and check in on them.
Dress like you’re heading out. I know how comfy your pajamas are. But when trying to be productive, dressing up as if you’re ready to face your co-workers, even your clients, can send a signal to your brain that you mean business. To make things easier, pick your clothes before going to bed. Upon waking up, take a shower and change from your pj’s to your actual work clothes.
Set up your home office. Find a spot that’s not your bed. Kidding aside – a good place to work is somewhere away from the noise and distractions from other members of the household. Locking yourself in a room will not only let you focus and make uninterrupted calls; it will also send a message to everyone else that you’re deep in work.
Clean up your space. There may be different preferences for this, with some people liking some clutter on their desk. But according to studies, a clean desk can help boost productivity. Specifically, this study shows the impact of clutter in the home on individuals, making them feel more overwhelmed and leading them to procrastinate.  Another research demonstrates that a cluttered home environment could trigger coping and avoidance behaviors like watching TV and snacking on junk foods. 
Switch it up. After a few days of working in the same spot over and over with little human interaction, you may start to feel bored with it. Feel free to play musical chairs and work in other spots within the house. Note though that to retain productivity, make sure that your other spots are still conducive for work (and you’re not just switching to the lounge, in front of your television).
Start your day with mindfulness.Instead of checking your phone first thing in the morning, why not do at least 5-minute mindful exercise in the form of guided meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, or a habit of gratitude?
No emails first thing in the morning.Do yourself a favor and avoid opening your work emails first thing you wake up. Seeing work when you’re still half-asleep could set your mood for the worse. In fact, why not try going offline during the first and last hour of the day? Try some self-care and mindfulness exercises in the first hour of the day, and lessen blue-light before going to bed. Read a book and avoid checking the news, social media, or even watching Netflix to sleep.
Have your productivity boosters around.If you need your morning coffee before starting work, then go ahead and crank up that coffee machine. Or if you need a jolt of energy in an afternoon slump, have some caffeine fix. Some people find nature sounds to be overly calming and can help them crush goals. Or diffusing some essential oils for more energy (for smashing to-do lists) or a dash of zen (to ward off anxious vibes).
Close those social media tabs and apps. This may be easier said than done but it’s true what they say – out of sight out of mind. Start by closing all those social media apps, maybe put your phone on airplane mode, or use the Incognito window. And if you feel like willpower is lacking, there are also tools available that block access to certain sites within a specified time. Help yourself by making distractions a little harder to access.
Take short breaks. Set schedules for your tasks in blocks of time. Consider using the Pomodoro technique, where you work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break before starting with the next tasks again. A little word of caution about breaks though - be more mindful of the kind of breaks you’ll have. It’s better to make coffee or get some fresh air, than starting a 30-minute episode on Netflix.
Allow yourself some physical breather. Go for a walk and make sure you incorporate enough movements in your day. Whether that means completing a yoga session (online classes are everywhere now!), riding your bike around your neighborhood, or just having a walk around the block.
… with yourself. Establish your defined working hours, and make sure you work only within these. Avoid checking your work email and texts beyond these hours.
… with others. Communicate with other members of your family or your housemates that you need to be working within certain hours. Let them know that you are happy to talk to them during breaks or after work hours.
Log off. After work, keep away anything work-related and enjoy precious time for yourself and with your family.
As we said in this Viter Energy blog  about the work-life balance, it's a good idea to simulate your commute to work. You don't have to drive in to work, so instead take a walk around the block just before your workday starts and just after it ends. Send yourself a psychological signal.
And if you can avoid it, do not work after your walk around the block. Don't check work email. Don't answer calls from co-workers unless you really need to talk to them (or they are friends you socialize with).
Clinical psychologist Kelcey Stratton of Michigan Health Blog  has some sound advice on finding the right time to work:
If you’re a morning person, try to schedule important work and meetings during the first half of the day. Others may peak with energy in the afternoon. Depending on the type of job you have, try to maximize on these levels as you can.
The first bit of advice is to get up from the computer, turn off your phone, and go get some exercise, do something recreational, prepare a meal, or something other than work, on the same schedule as you did when you worked at the brick-and-mortar office.
If you used to get off at 5 p.m., quit working at home at 5. You might need to check email or prepare a report later that night, but be sure to get away from all electronic communications and computing devices for a while.
Another big tip is to take your coffee breaks and lunch breaks on the same schedule, or at least be sure to take them at some point. Do not skip your favorite part of the day!