For many people the winter months can be a time that is distinctively lacking in energy, and productivity, particularly in the current climate of the pandemic. Some initial goals have had to be revisited with home schooling being thrown into the mix again. Essentially for a lot of us the productive working day just got shorter…
Here’s a few thoughts based on research and working with many Executive coaching clients on priorities and productivity, particularly at the moment.
Tailored self-care is essential. I know this is being talked about a lot and there is so much advice out there. However, some of the advice may feel too far a stretch when it feels like you only have 5 minutes spare a day, or less! What works for some, doesn’t work for others so that’s why I advocate a tailored approach to self-care broken down into small manageable chunks. Eg. A 10 minute walk around the block is still better than doing nothing when you had originally planned to take a 45 minute run. Only part I’d say is a necessity is sleep! There are many resources to support with this if you’re struggling at the moment. https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/sleep/ and personally I find the worry app https://au.reachout.com/tools-and-apps/reachout-worrytime useful for scheduling specific time for worries and working through them.
Re-think your to-do list. Instead of having a long list of tasks for the day (and then feeling frustrated and stressed when they are not all achieved) try just asking yourself “what are the 3 things I want to achieve to make today a success” (It can be a mixture of professional and personal, and they don’t need to be big things). Some people advocate a ‘to-stop’ list too to help them focus on priorities.
Multi-tasking is not productive. There is plenty of research to suggest that task switching is not effective. If you are swapping between activities it reduces focus and energy. It’s not easy if you’re constantly being interrupted with emails, calls, pets or children but practice getting into the habit of working on one task in blocked chunks of time. It’s about finding your inner discipline to just check emails twice a day rather than have them constantly pinging up. There are so many great resources on increasing productivity and performance, my favourites being the classic, Stephen R Covey 7 habits of highly effective people and also Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog (Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it). Implementing just one or two of these principles could make a big difference.
Get support. There’s great strength in this. It may be practical, emotional or a combination of both – it’s worth it. Constantly ask yourself when you’re feeling stuck “who can support me?”
References and resources