Thousands of employees across the U.S. have been instructed to telecommute or work remotely as the number of coronavirus cases across the country near 1,000. However, those who are used to their everyday routine in an office setting may feel thrown off by the change, and as a result, struggle to stay focused.

There are several steps you can take to ensure productivity, including setting boundaries for yourself — especially if there are others in the home during your work hours. Creating a daily to-do list can also help you stay on task and ensure that you’re remaining productive.


“Making a daily to-do list is imperative for staying productive while you’re working remotely,” Paula Rizzo, an Emmy award-winning TV producer, media trainer and author of “Listful Living,” told Fox News. “Distractions happen especially if you’re not in your usual environment so you need a roadmap to keep you on track. Make sure to include only items that you have the time and resources to do that day. This should be a very actionable list.”

Rizzo said it’s also important to consider what times of day you find yourself to be most productive, and if your employer allows for it aim to get major tasks accomplished during that timeframe.

“Set yourself up for success before you jump into working,” she said. “If you know you might get distracted, put on noise-canceling headphones so you can drown out the noise around you.”


Rizzo also recommends trying the Pomodoro Technique, in which you work for 25 minutes of time and then take a break to see what you can get accomplished. According to Rizzo, if you get distracted you’re supposed to stop the clock.

Health officials have also urged people, especially those who are considered high-risk for COVID-19, to practice social distancing, which may mean an uptick in the number of video conferences conducted as opposed to in-person meetings. Rizzo said there are several steps you can take to ensure these meetings are as effective as they would be if they were to be conducted in person.

“First off, always make notes of what you want to articulate and turn those into headline points,” Rizzo said. “The average attention span is around eight seconds, so you want to keep your thoughts clear and concise.”

She also advises her media training clients to make your points upfront rather than begin with a long-winded diatribe, and if there is time at the end you can go back and include more information.

“Also, if you say too many filler words like ‘um’ or ‘like’ a lot it could make your colleagues or clients zone out,” she said. “Instead just take a breath when you notice yourself saying these words and stop talking. You don’t have to fill every second with words.”

Rizzo also said it’s important to look at the camera, and to choose a quiet area with a window in front rather than behind you so as not to overexpose the shot, and to test the technology beforehand so that you’re not caught off guard once the call begins.


“It can be difficult when you’re not in the same room as someone to let your energy wane, but it’s important to come across passionate and interested during virtual meetings,” she said. “Put both feet on the floor, sit up in your seat and engaged with the computer or camera. Treat it like it’s a person because, after all, there is someone on the other end who is excited to hear from you.”

For more tips from Rizzo, click here.