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The COVID Productivity Battle - Part II

In our first post about productivity and motivation, we explored why so many of us are struggling to get things done right now. In our follow-up blog, we want to offer some suggestions for making peace with lowered productivity while continuing to work, love, and parent.

In her article, Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure, professor and award winning author Aisha S. Ahmad writes:

“It is perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost during this initial transition. Consider it a good thing that you are not in denial, and that you are allowing yourself to work through the anxiety. No sane person feels good during a global disaster, so be grateful for the discomfort of your sanity. At this stage, I would focus on food, family, friends, and maybe fitness. (You will not become an Olympic athlete in the next two weeks, so don’t put ridiculous expectations on your body.)”

Acknowledge the global crisis: Even if you are one of the lucky ones who is “just staying home” and still working, it does not serve you to deny that the world has changed, that people are suffering and dying, and that the economic impact of this crisis will last for months and probably years to come. Acknowledging that you are a part of this global experience instead of denying it allows you to address complex feelings and losses, making you better prepared to face the inevitable challenges ahead.

Set easy, low pressure goals for eating (relatively) well and exercising (a little): A weary mind and body is very unlikely to work towards goals that demand lots of time and energy. Set the bar low during this time so you are more likely to achieve goals, and so you can avoid additional guilt about not achieving unreasonable demands you set for yourself.  Make sure you are getting enough daily calories and plenty of water.

Go outside: Give your mind and body a quick break from indoor lighting, screens, and work. 

Accept that you are operating at limited capacity: As we mentioned in our first post on this topic, there are a whole slew of reasons that you are less productive and have less energy during lockdown. You will be disappointed if you expect yourself to operate at your non-crisis time levels of productivity. Be easy and gently with yourself.

Accept that your family, friends, and coworkers are also operating at limited capacity: While you give yourself grace by acknowledging your limits during this time, be sure to offer the same to your loved ones and coworkers. After all, they are also living through a pandemic. 

Be realistic: In the grand scheme of things, losing a few months of work, school, or projects will probably not be a deal breaker. It will definitely be frustrating, but if you take a bird’s eye view you can relax a little and know that your dreams and goals can still come to fruition, even if they are delayed.

Push out your timelines: If you are able, push out deadlines and give yourself and your team/family more time than usual to complete projects or tasks. 

Allow yourself to grieve losses: Check out our post about the many losses we have experienced during the COVID outbreak. Give yourself some time to think through and feel your personal losses during the pandemic. Difficult feelings that we deny or ignore take up A LOT of mental and emotional space. . 

Take the evenings and weekends off from work: Without defined work/home spaces, it can feel like work demands are bleeding into every aspect of our lives. You need breaks from work to rest your mind and replenish your energy with activities that make you feel good. 

Be kind: To yourself, to your loved ones, to your co-workers, your managers. To the people you disagree with. To the people pushing productivity. To the deniers, the minimizers, the extremists. Frontline workers, nonessential workers, the unemployed. They too are reacting as best as they can during an unprecedented time of global uncertainty.

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