How to stay productive and on schedule during the pandemic – without compromising your mental health

It’s no secret that increased stress levels reduce productivity. And the Coronavirus pandemic is nothing if not stressful. In addition to being a source of anxiety, it’s also a relatively uncontrollable circumstance that’s requiring people to adapt quickly, despite limited resources. With all this in mind, it’s completely normal to witness some changes in workflow.

But is there a way to still stay productive and on schedule during a pandemic? Of course, there is! However, maintaining efficiency and meeting deadlines under these circumstances will require effort, planning, self-care, and making room for an adaptation period.

If you’re looking for ways to help your team (or yourself) stay as productive as possible throughout this time, here are a few pieces of advice.

Make a plan

One of the best ways to face a challenge is to put together a course of action that provides clear guidelines and allows you to focus on completing tasks one by one. It doesn’t require any complicated devices, yet holds the potential of maximizing productivity even in stressful times.

The best tools for this will vary from person to person. Some will find pen and paper to be especially beneficial, as the very act of writing something down allows the brain to start processing. For others, putting together a checklist (the upgraded version of any regular to-do list) will offer the benefit of a step-by-step plan of action to solve a problem. Then, there will be those who will stick to their trusted digital calendar app, making the most of the data through automatization features.

Still, the one thing to keep in mind at this moment is that now is not a time to take on too much. Instead, aim to boost productivity through setting clear, attainable goals, and putting time aside for self-care, rest, and socialization. Through finding a good balance between periods of work and rest, you’ll allow yourself to accomplish a lot without causing burnout or risking oversights.

Be aware of the effects of change

Most people’s circumstances have changed rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s important to be aware of its various effects. For one, social-distancing measures are requiring many people to switch to a remote working model. Even though remote work offers many benefits, it also makes way for distractions – especially for those who don’t have the luxury of a designated office area.

Managers should keep this in mind and work together with their employees to find the best possible solutions to potential problems. This can include adapting work-hours or lending a higher level of support through prioritizing effective communication and teamwork. Don’t forget about the importance of constructive feedback either, as it can be a great motivator and driving force.

It’s also advisable to keep employees updated on any company developments during the pandemic, to communicate clearly and directly, as well as to use reassuring language. This will help put people’s minds at ease, which is a big contributing factor to efficient work. Be prepared to use video calls as a way to communicate, considering that they offer a sense of normalcy and human touch.

Pay attention to emotional wellbeing

Perhaps the most important step towards ensuring productivity and high-quality work in this period is to take good care of yourself and those around you. This means paying attention to how you’re feeling, as well as finding ways to remain positive in the face of hardship.

If you’re worried about not doing enough or finding it difficult to focus, don’t hesitate to reach out to your managers and ask for help. They may be able to give you a few guidelines on where to direct your focus, and perhaps even to reassure you about your work. Remember, dissatisfaction with productivity can often be a subjective feeling, so try not to judge yourself too harshly.

If you’re a manager and can see that your team members are struggling, again, it’s important to reach out to them and lend them your support. Find ways to keep them engaged, and don’t forget about the importance of social contact. A daily virtual meeting or an online team building activity can offer a much-needed boost in mood and engagement.

Try to take good care of your physical health as well. Eat healthily, exercise, and spend time in nature. All of these can have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive abilities, and they’ll help you combat stress as well.

Finally, remember that now is not the time to work long nights and sleep late. Though this may give you the impression that you’re doing a lot, it’s actually likely causing more harm than good. A healthy sleep schedule will ensure a stronger immune system and help you remain more productive during the day by improving your attention and problem-solving abilities.

Be kind to yourself

The Coronavirus pandemic is challenging enough without having to worry about being insufficiently productive. So try not to let yourself become obsessed with performance. Instead, focus on the small things you can do to keep yourself healthy and positive.

If you feel like your work is suffering right now, don’t be afraid to seek out help, try to come up with creative solutions, or even make small adjustments to your priorities. Any of these can have a beneficial outcome, allowing you to do great work without beating yourself up over unattainable goals or circumstances you can’t control.

Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer from San Diego. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.

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