Productivity in the Time of COVID-19
If you’re like many people, you’re now wondering why you bothered getting a day planner at all for the year 2020. This year has been chaotic for all of us, between quarantining, kids doing school at home, and massive shifts in the workplace. Many people lost their jobs entirely and have struggled to support their families. As of this writing, over 170,000 Americans have died due to COVID and a plateau doesn’t seem to be on the horizon yet. I know several people who have lost their lives to this awful illness, and on a personal note, I became severely ill with COVID in February and was sick for months (hence the long pause in blog posts). Life this year has been very, very far from normal.
Honestly, life probably won’t return to normal as we know it anytime in the foreseeable future. Though there are plenty of negatives to this year, there are some silver linings—many of my clients have said they’ve been happier working more from home, and even though they’ve returned to some office hours, they are able to continue working in some capacity from their house. Others have valued their increased family time and ability to exercise more. Overall, this year made many people re-evaluate priorities and what matters in life. Once I recovered enough from my illness to function again, I valued every extra second I got to spend with my teenage children. They are normally so busy with school and extra-curricular activities that I barely see them, and yet, I got a few MONTHS with them all to myself (okay, and my husband)—taking walks, watching movies, and playing games. As the kids are already ramping up again with their respective activities, I look back on these past few months with them as a priceless gift. I’ve also been super grateful for my health (and for my shiny new antibodies however long they last).
But what about business productivity? Personally, I had to almost close down my own business entirely while I was sick with COVID-related issues such as pneumonia, pleurisy, and kidney problems. Luckily, I didn’t have any underlying high-risk health issues and was super healthy prior to getting sick so I was able to bounce back but it still took almost four months to get back to full capacity.
Basically, my productivity tanked. Since then, I’ve geared back up and gotten back into the swing of things but it was a rough few months…and I wasn’t alone in that issue. One thing I’ve heard repeatedly from my life coaching and career coaching clients in the past few months is their own feeling of lack of productivity. The stress of this year has impacted them and they have periods where they feel less focused, less able to concentrate, and overall less productive. Sometimes, it’s due to having small children at home which makes working at home, well, challenging. Other times, it’s just the stress of the unknown and what the rest of this year will look like. Either way, I’ve been telling people the same thing I told myself during my period of shut down.
It’s okay. It’s fine if you’re not functioning at peak productivity right now. If you and your loved ones are healthy, and you still have a job, consider yourself one of the lucky ones because many people haven’t been as lucky (see current death statistics and unemployment numbers). I’ve had clients tell me it’s even difficult to read a book right now. That’s okay too. Do things that make you feel good. For me, it’s been meditating and exercising daily, getting plenty of sleep, taking long walks with my hubby, and playing with my dogs and kids.
Here’s the thing: If you allow yourself to acknowledge the stress and focus on self-care rather than dwell on what you’re not getting done, it will help you get back on track even faster. I had many a day where my business to-do list remained untouched, and I forced myself to instead put my attention on healing and all the things I was grateful for. The meditating and exercising has allowed me to keep my balance despite the continued chaos in our world, and time with family has kept me focused on what I’m doing this all for in the first place. If I had just tried to push through it and ignore everything, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
And where am I now? I’m busier than I’ve ever been before with my business (so much so that I’m re-focusing on work/life balance) and on the writing side, I’ve published two novels and a short story in the last few months, completed another short story that will come out later this year, and am currently hard at work on two additional novels. I’m more productive now than I was before this nutty year even started, and that takes into account my four months of doing almost nothing—except trying to breathe.
I know this is a long post so I’ll summarize how to address productivity issues right now:
- Give yourself a break and allow periods of being non-productive
- Focus on self-care during this chaotic time and do things that help restore balance (meditation, exercise, time with loved ones, yoga, watching funny shows, etc)
- List the positives of the down time: what are your silver linings?
- Do what you can, when you can—and cheer yourself on for the little wins.
- As you feel more productive, don’t overwhelm yourself with playing catch-up which can cause action paralysis—instead, take baby steps which will help you feel successful which increases motivation and leads to more steps
- Those baby steps taken consistently turn into big things (e.g. my novel was written just 1,000 words at a time but doing it consistently led to completing the book!)
Bottom line: we’re living through an unprecedented time in history so be kind to yourself and to those around you. The world needs more kindness right now and that includes toward yourself! Hang in there, stay healthy out there, and please wear a mask.
Ready to explore other career options or want to meet a new life goal? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!