I get it. There is so much out of our control during this COVID-19 pandemic. Fear, change, anxiety, boredom, and frustration are a given. And yet, there are ways we can proactively manage our mindset and our business as we work our way through this. It’s important to focus on what we can control and stop focusing on what we can’t control. Sure, there will need to be some adaptations and possibly a few pivots, but we can foster peace of mind and remain productive.
Set a Routine to Support Productivity
My first recommendation is to get into a routine. You may be staying at home, but committing to a purposeful plan of events will help you stay on track, avoid knee-jerk reactions and give you a sense of normalcy. And yes, start with getting dressed for the day. Save the day pjs, if that is your thing, for the weekends. In this time, you may find it necessary to adapt your normal schedule to the environment. For example, you may choose to go to the grocery in the evening to avoid crowds. And, your professional productive time may need to shift if you are managing children home from school. As you establish your new routine, keep in mind your unique cycle of personal energy. Plan to conduct your most cognitively demanding activities accordingly. Most importantly, give yourself grace. Now is not the time to prove you are the best teacher, cook or housekeeper. Steer clear of the trap of perfectionism.
Limit Social Media and Carefully Curate Your News
Avoid spending too much time on sites that cause anxiety. Choose to stay current on the news, but find one or two quality sources for your information. Work your news consumption into your routine; don’t fall prey to news binge watching. And, as I would recommend at any time – pandemic or not – limit your time on social media. Perusing Facebook can be a relaxing and entertaining activity for many, but it can also become a real time drain. And, keep in mind, fear feeds on itself. If what your are reading is pedaling fear, consider if it is productive and ensure it is factual.
If the relief efforts coming out of the Small Business Association are of interest to you, choose to gathering facts from official sources. Understand this is an evolving situation. Discuss your specifics with a trusted financial or business advisor.
Stay Connected to Remain Productive
It is more important than ever to stay connected. We may not have the benefit of in-person gatherings, but we can talk on the phone and use video conferencing. Make it a point to reach out to those you love. Take advantage of the extra time you may have by indulging in an extra long phone conversation with an extended family member. Become reacquainted with an old friend. Talk with your spouse. Play a game with your family. Play a virtual game with someone outside your home.
I have been contacting my clients just to check in on them and their families. I believe we can all benefit from a kind word and a familiar voice. These rewards are a two-way street. I feel a greater sense of calm and overall encouragement after touching base with my clients. This also helps me to stay up to date with where my clients are in their own business which further enables me to remain productive.
Communicate with your team members. You may not have all the answers, and this is ok. Confirming that you do not have all the answers is good communication. Underscoring your commitment to and concern for the team and the organization overall is good for everyone. Sharing the information you have with your team regarding company direction, team goals and successes will be encouraging to everyone.
Capitalize on the Downtime
Many of us have bonus downtime right now. We talked about this in detail last blog. You may find you finally have the time to try out a hobby or a new recipe. Why not pull out that book you’ve been wanting to read? Or, look into ways you can volunteer your time. Now might also be a great time to take an online learning course or participate in an educational webinar or masterclass. Or, you may use this time to do some online research for a possible new vendor or software program. Some may be encouraged by revisiting their business plans and strategic goals. Spend a few minutes today thinking about what you’d really like to do with this time you’ve been given.
Really Try The Mindfulness
Don’t underestimate the rewards to be had with mindfulness and meditation. Sitting still and feeling your emotions helps you process things. Even five minutes of quiet time pays off. Not sure where to start? Try an app like Calm. Or put on your favorite song and lie down and listen. Practice some deep breathing. There is science behind meditation and all of it’s benefits to our wellbeing.
And, while we’re on the topic of mindfulness, keep in mind that emotional contagion is real. Fear is contagious. Being mindful of this tendency in regards to your own actions is important. Disengage when you realize you are vulnerable. Why not try the opposite? Positivity is contagious as well. Choose to be an avenue of optimism when you have the opportunity.
Productivity in Pandemic
I used to have a boss who would say, “Do the best you can with what you have right now.” I think this is important to remember when we are living in a world where literally almost everything has changed. COVID-19 is impacting us all. It is normal to feel stress and anxiety. I encourage you to find your unique opportunities in this trying situation. Actively manage the challenges with realistic perspective and self kindness. Choose to be positive. Prioritize connection with others. Foster peace of mind. This is productivity in pandemic.
Sara Genrich is a Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant and the creator of the Organizing@Work for Success Workshop. She’s committed to providing real-life solutions so her clients have time to focus on the things that really matter.