First, I hope that you are healthy, safe and you and those you love have resources to transition through this challenging time.
Second, if you're finding it hard to focus on what's important due to news and world events you're not alone.
Also, you may not have or know of resources to increase your wellness and productivity (regardless of what's happening directly or indirectly to you).
On the positive side I'm sharing 19 steps to stay productive during Covid or any challenging moments in life. These steps are your resource for reflection, clarity, and planning.
1. Things You Can Control
It may not feel like it but there is a lot in your control.
Start by practicing mindfulness because it helps you control your focus. Better focus will result in better productivity. According to a study published in Science Direct, “Mindfulness meditation is a form of attention control training.”
With your thoughts in the right place, you’re ready to move on to work. You can control what tasks you do and for how long. Creating a schedule, especially if you’re working from home will promote a feeling of organization.
Give yourself plenty of room to adjust as the day changes. Decide what is necessary and what can wait.
It is going to require good habits but remember to stay flexible about how much time you devote to work. Family time or connecting with friends virtually is equally important during self-quarantine.
2. Be thankful
Embrace what is going right.
I am self-quarantining at home with my husband and kids. The few times I’ve been out I practice social distancing. When we do need items I do not hoard and order supplies and groceries online to minimize exposure to other people.
Despite all of the constant changes I choose to he grateful.
Positivity is in my soul. It is what makes me who I am no matter what kind of uncertainty is present.
Look around you and be aware of the things that you can say 'thank you' for experiencing.
3. Set daily goals
Say it, write it down, act on it.
Okay, I know in the midst of the global unrest the last thing you probably want to do is goal setting. You’re thinking, Nicole are you crazy? No, I am not and keeping a consistent routine will help you feel in control so pick 3 important things to focus on each day.
- Keeping your family on a schedule
- Preparing meals ahead of time aka “meal prep”
- Take a stretch break
- Staying hydrated
- Mini breaks from your work-at-home setup
4. Put away the cell phone
Text threads, emails, phone calls, and news alerts are flooding your cell phone.
Our mobile phones are keeping us connected in a time that we truly need it. Yet all of the instant connections can cause anxiety and stress. By no means should you walk away from your phone entirely but take a break from it.
Putting your phone down may help you reduce cortisol levels
One way to do it is to schedule a time each day to not pick up your phone. Don't check email or messages by setting your phone onto do not disturb. Try it for 5-10 minutes. Or, physically put it away for the duration of your task.
On the next day, take a 15-minute break from your phone again. By the end of the week, you’ll have an additional 80 minutes for productivity.
In fact, when you are working on any project it is a good habit to set aside the cell phone and refrain from checking notifications. Turn them off while you get through a chunk of items. When those notifications are buzzing, it really is a form of multitasking that reduces your ability to get stuff done.
5. Get informed
Read resources to get facts to help you stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
6. Acknowledge reality
Covid is here and not going away anytime soon. We all need to be careful and not get consumed with sadness, anger, or frustration. We’ll get through it together and be a better society and as individuals for facing this challenge with a united effort.As we check in with each other virtually let’s remember to:
- Don’t indulge in negative discussions
- Make the purpose of the video chat a positive experience
- Share a good memory from the past
- Stay Positive
You have two choices.
Let the panic feed into your body and mind and control your life. Or step back and view your situation with a perspective on what is actually happening. Make a list of things you’re thankful for. Keep it available and look at it when you need it.
7. Keep your body healthy
Certain foods have been linked to improving brain health which may help with increased focus. Components like antioxidants, B vitamins, and Omega-3 fatty acids are good choices according to Harvard Medical School. Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits round out the best strategy for overall health.
Don’t forget about your gut! Balancing bacteria in your gut’s biome is one factor in overall health. “There are two ways to maintain this balance — helping the microbes already there to grow by giving them the foods they like (prebiotic) and adding living microbes directly to your system (probiotic).”, says the Mayo Clinic.
8. Stop multitasking
If telecommuting is a new concept for you, it can introduce unique distractions. Whatever you do, don’t multitask even if the urge is high!
“According to research summarized by the American Psychological Association, shifting between tasks can cost you up to 40 percent of productive time.”, as reported by Monster.com contributing write Cathleen Conlan.
9. Take short breaks
Sometime when you can’t focus on a task anymore it helps to take a break from it. Listen to your favorite playlist. Stretch for 10 minutes. Drink a cup of antioxidant tea to boost your immune system. You can always set a timer to transition back into work-mode.
10. Slow down
This is connected to practicing mindfulness as I mentioned earlier. Give yourself complete downtime during the day. Step away from your work zone. The old saying, “good things come to those who wait” applies to slow things down. It clears up your point of view and promotes thoughtfulness towards your actions.
11. Develop a strategy
Take time to identify what deserves your attention. Write down what is important to you. Once there’s a plan in place, you can revisit it to keep yourself on track. Reminding yourself what is worth your time will go a long way to helping you stay productive.
12. Practice self-care
Staying healthy is everybody’s priority but also a human right, not a privilege. Body brushing and face masks feel good, right? We should be doing it weekly, making some me-time. When you make yourself the priority it means you are dedicating time to an action that will yield a result. You are focusing on you, and that’s a good thing during this challenging time. This entire blog post is a list of self-care steps you can take action on now – so go do it!
13. Create an affirmation
Affirmations help you cope during a crisis. Think of it as a form of stress management. Here are 7 affirmations or mantras to power you through self-quarantine.
- This Too Shall Pass – The Bible
- No one can steal your joy - The Bible
- Nothing is impossible. The word itself say I’m Possible! - Audrey Hepburn
- You do not find the happy life – you make it. - Camilla Eyring Kimball
- My mission in life is not merely to survive but THRIVE. - Maya Angelou
- If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. - Oprah Winfrey
- The perfect moment is this one. - Jon Kanbat-Zinn
14. Experience your emotions
“The reality is you cannot selectively numb emotions.”, according to Psychology Today.
Emotions are always there so learning to work through them helps you feel balanced. Connecting to them is a way to establish Emotional Intelligence (EQ). According to Daniel Gouldman, a psychologist who helped popularize EQ, there are five key elements:
- Social skills
Some experts criticize EQ as not being quantifiable (fancy-pants word for being able to be measured). However, it is a widely accepted idea. I like Gary Vaynerchuck’s definition best because he says, ”…emotional intangibles: empathy, gratitude, and intuition…the real answer is self-awareness.” There is no better time like, right now, to work on being self-aware.
15. Keep it normal
Everyone is working from home, adults, and kids too. Establish work hours and designate separate spaces for work, eating, and relaxing. Schedule big and mini-breaks. Keeping it normal will help align your work responsibilities while respecting your low-key environments too.
I mentioned earlier in this post, be thankful for what is right within your world. Being grateful for anything that is humming along will change your perspective. Have gratitude for what you have instead of what you “deserve”. The end. It’s as simple as that, friends.
17. Treat yourself kindly
Everything is in flux right now. Our global community is navigating a new path for health and safety. Don’t be hard on yourself as you adjust too. You’re doing the best you can and that is the most important thing.
18. Ask for help
Phones and laptops are keeping people connected with family, friends, and work. When you need more than a quick check-in virtual therapy could also help you make sense of emotions. Consider the pros and cons before committing to tele-psychology. The American Psychology Association has guidelines on what you need to know before choosing online therapy.
3 Bonus Steps To Steps To Stay Productive
Stay in the moment
What needs to get done now: one thing or nothing? When you’re tapped into your feelings (like self-awareness) it’s easier to balance your needs because you are present and not stuck in the past. It’s something you can control - being openly aware of the “now”. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be anything epic beyond that.
Taking time in your day, preferably in the morning to visualize your life the way you want it to actually be is a first step in realizing your goals.
See yourself, from your own perspective, doing the steps to get to the results you want.
Visualization or creative imagery is simply playing a mini-movie in your head of the action steps for accomplishing your lifestyle and professional goals. Learn more visualization tips by reading, "19 Best Visualization Tips (To Help You Achieve Your Goals)".
Maintain your focus
Now is the time to embrace love in the middle of a crisis. Demonstrate compassion despite the lack of empathy infecting those around us. A smile and a wave of the hand can offer a gesture of kindness when others are displaying hostility.
I encourage you to whole when others are promoting that we "should" act like we’re broken. It’s your choice how you feel and behave. Choose to stay focused.
All the work you’ve been doing on your personal growth will pay off. During times of challenge is when you'll show what’s it is like to step out of fear and into courage.
Don’t give in to the scarcity mentality.
Open your heart and level up to being an example of hope.
Be greater than your environment so you don’t get caught up into living the loop of negativity.