How to stay productive during this pandemic?
It has been over a year and nearly five months by now that we all seem to be part of one big social experiment in recent human history. Covid-19 has for sure left its mark and changed life as we knew it. Conveniently booking cheap flights to anywhere in the world let alone visiting relatives who are living overseas, nearly impossible to do unless you are willing to severely do damage to your bank account balance and put yourself into quarantine up to 21 days, depending which country you are in.
Life changed. More rules and regulations have been introduced.
As a takeaway of many conversations I had, in the recent past, it seems many are of us are experiencing some sort of pandemic-fatigue. Not neglecting the threat, this virus carries, but rather a rising incomprehension of how different societies trying to differently deal with it all, let alone being stuck at home most of the time.
It seems each country it brewing its own secret sauce, yet all seem to ignore the simple fact that they are only as good as the weakest link in the entire chain. It does remind me of an oh so common everyday buzzword preaching practice when it comes to managing teams, departments, corporations - you name it, all around the world.
Many clients thought that 2021 will be a consolidating year, "almost back to normal". Widely failed, as it appears. Unfortunately, their positive outlooks are still waiting to come true, with less than six month to go this year.
How to stay positive, motivated, confident and productive in times where external factors in form of applied rules and regulations cutting through businesses, family reunions, everyday social community activities, let alone funerals like a hot knife through butter cake?
No one was prepared or trained for a situation like this where lines between work and private life turn blurry. We work from home and we live at work, thanks to the home office. So, how to stay optimistic, motivated, organized and therefore positive and productive these days?
Before going on, keep in mind that “what works well for someone might not work the same for somebody else.” Therefore the following 20 thoughts shall no be mistaken to be complete nor does every approach works for everyone, but it can be a good starting point to explore:
1. Start with the end in mind. What do you want to achieve. What does your final outcome or stage should look or feel like? What specifically is it that you want. If you can name it you can describe it. From here you can work backwards to figure out what it is you need to think, be or do to get started.
2. You will get more of what you put your focus on. Ever heard this saying? Focus on what it is that you want to achieve. The higher your focus on what it is you want to achieve or become, the lower the chance of you quitting half way through.
3. Put a deadline to your goal. A goal without an end-date in mind remains a wish because it will never be reached. Simple but effective as long as you stick to your set deadline. Continuous extensions of deadlines are a form of procrastination. Hold yourself accountable.
4. Consider tighter deadlines. Latest research shows that individuals tend to rather procrastinate when faced with longer deadlines. Consider checking out this interesting HBR article by Meng Zhu, Associate Professor of marketing at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School:
5. Do a reality check. Is your goal or what you want to accomplish S.M.A.R.T.? In other words is it specific, measurable (only what you can measure you can challenge), achievable (only if you believe it you can achieve it), realistic, and time-bound.
6. Stay flexible and be ready to pivot if needed. A very common reason for occurring frustration is when we hold on for too long on something that isn’t worth pursuing any longer. Try to keep an open mind to adjust your goal to any new or unforeseen circumstances.
7. Don’t try to achieve to many things at once. Ever heard the native American quote “If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.” Meaning, its better to focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking might lead only into mediocracy.
8. Make a priority list. Start at the top. As simple as is. No magic here. Trust the process. Always helps when overwhelmed with choice.
9. Try a “wheel of life” self-assessment. A simple exercise every coach has brought up once in their career. It’s simple, yet effective and supports awareness on what is important to you. Work ok when done alone. Works great when done with a coach. Give it a try.
10. Try to distinguish necessary from nice to have. Try to figure out what it takes to get you somewhere or get the job done. Helps with productivity and can have a positive effect on your bottom line.
11. Figure out what you need to have prepared, to get started. This is one of my favourites. Imagine you have to finish this presentation but your desk an absolute mess. Would you need to clean your desk before getting your presentation done? This is rather a question a coach might ask when a client seems stuck. Sometimes, we are stuck because we are simply not prepared.
12. What could get in your way? Anticipate possible roadblocks. A project management classic. Consider a plan B or any sort of alternative option in case you are confronted with an obstacle.
13. Do not get stuck and become part of your own story. We tend to believe our own stories if we only repeat them often enough. Be mindful and aware of your own stories. Notice when you keep bringing them up to explain your situation or as justification why or why not things can or can’t be done.
14. Understand your inner map. Invest more time to get to know yourself better. Consider doing self-assessments to understand why you do or react the way you do in certain situation.
15. What are your values? What is most important in your life?
16. Have a purpose in life. If you haven’t thought about it yet, here is a small yet effective exercise to ask yourself to establish a purpose that works for you. Check out the quick self-questionnaire at the footer on my website.
17. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to give yourself a break once in a while.
18. Being perfect isn’t always better. Sometimes “done” is better than “perfect”. By the way, what is perfect?
19. Choose your words wisely. Be mindful of your vocabulary. Words we use can have an effect on us and others. Try it, simply exchange phrases like: “I must…”, “I have to…”, “I need to…” into: “I could...”, “I might…”, “I would…” see if it changes something.
20. Try not to overthink, just get started with whatever it is you want to accomplish. Do not wait. A very common trap for many of us is that we quit before we even consider starting. This fear of getting started is very common and shall not be underestimated.
What are your favourites?