April 27, 2020 5 min read
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.
February 25, 2021 5 min read
How bad is caffeine withdrawal? People who have a caffeine habit may empathize with a scene of the 1931 production of Frankenstein, in which the mad scientist exults over the animation of his monster, exclaiming “It’s alive! It’s a alive, it’s alive!” I know I get animated in the morning after drinking my first cup of the ichor we call coffee.
Caffeinated products are wildly popular worldwide, used by as much as 90 percent of the adult population. An estimated 80 percent of American adults take caffeine in one product or another, and it’s estimated half of those people are prone to headaches for one reason or another. If you are among the caffeine users who get caffeine withdrawal headaches from coffee, tea or energy drinks, there are a few things you can do to minimize the pain.
February 23, 2021 5 min read
Studies of caffeine show that it does not increase the risk of death, but it causes a habit or possibly a dependence that the American Psychiatric Association now lists in its diagnosis manual as a disorder that warrants more study.
Scientists study caffeine and its use by humans a lot, some say more than any other psychoactive substance in the world. Caffeine is the most widely used drug, and more scientists are saying now there should be yet more studies into dependence and other aspects of caffeine consumption.
February 18, 2021 4 min read
What is the chemistry of coffee? Caffeine is the most famous chemical compound in coffee, but roasted coffee beans contain more than 1,000 other compounds. Some of these chemicals are noxious but still are not unhealthy because they are present in such low amounts.
You never hear anybody wake up and say, “I need a big dose of putrescine and dimethyl disulfide in my morning cup.”