Maintaining productivity and efficiency with work is a challenge in the easiest of times, but throw in a global pandemic and a humanitarian crisis? Staying on task in those conditions can seem impossible and even trivial. While human lives are certainly more important than work and the economy, time marches on. People still have to take care of themselves and their families and position themselves to come out of this as well as possible. Productivity hacks can play a key role in this.
For those that are lucky enough to still be employed, this means not just staying employed, but being as indispensable as possible. The pandemic job market is already cutthroat and will only become more so.
“Not only are there swaths of newly unemployed people eager to regain employment, but companies who were once resistant to a remote workforce have now opened up their talent pools to new areas. This will narrow the divide between rural and urban job markets, drastically increasing competition amongst job seekers.”
To try to help you stay ahead of the competition, some of us here at WorkAbility have offered personal tips and productivity hacks to maintain efficiency.
Productivity hacks from the WorkAbility staff
Mushrooms, checklists, and sleep
“1. I’m off of caffeine completely as of March! I start my day with cordyceps mushroom powder in my green smoothie. Cordyceps are a powerful adaptogen and help you maintain a strong stamina by assisting the body in maintaining balance during times of stress. Managing stress with adaptogens helps you conserve energy which leads to a higher stamina and no caffeine crash in the afternoon. 2. I also keep a running checklist in my notebook and constantly scan the list to find the most time-sensitive item on the list and attack that first. When I need to utilize the help of my team, I’ll use Monday.com to manage and track our team projects, but I’ve always been very analog so you’ll see me using a paper checklist more often than not. 3. Eight. Hours. Of. Sleep. If you have this privilege, it makes a world of difference.”
– Sam Stakel, Workplace Resource Manager & Events Assist
Great productivity hacks here! I agree with Sam about writing down lists of time-sensitive tasks. Even if it’s just 3 or 4 things. I think of it like this – on any given day my brain is filled with enough stress as is. Transferring tasks from my brain to paper allows me to place it somewhere I can see it and conquer it. Once I can visually look at “the enemy” it’s much less formidable. It also tidies up my head.
There’s something about physically putting things on paper that makes them a reality. Whether it’s setting goals for yourself (studies have shown that people who write down their goals are up to 40% more likely to achieve them), making to-do lists, or my favorite, crossing things off that list. Is there a better feeling? Sometimes I’ll go back and write down a task that I’ve already completed but hadn’t written down, just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off. Ahhh, it’s the little things.
Meditating and removing distractions
“Some productivity hacks for me are daily meditation, stretching and deep breathing. Removing distractions from my desk so there’s only one thing to focus on at a time is another one.”
– David Schachter, Facilities Manager
Similar to removing distractions from a desk, I try to keep an organized “virtual desk”, aka my internet tabs. This may just be a case of my OCD-ness and not for everyone (I’ve preached it to colleagues to no avail). But keeping my internet tabs organized and to a minimum is a huge stress reliever. Just looking at other peoples’ windows when they have like 20 tabs open stresses me out. You can’t even read the tabs!
I like to have as few open as possible, and I like to keep them organized by window (one for email and Slack, one for google drive/sheets/docs, etc). For me, this is a simple but effective productivity hack. When the stress is starting to become too much or I’ve betrayed myself with an unacceptable amount of open tabs, I hit the ol’ ‘Command-Q’ and start with a clean slate. I can easily re-open the tabs that I actually need.
Stepping away from work
“I take a walk every 2-3 hours for about 10 minutes. It helps me de-stress, focus, and also helps me get in some needed steps”
– Ani Harish, Community Manager
Ani is definitely onto something here, and as someone who wears the hat of content creator, I’ll take this a step further. If you’re someone who’s job is to develop content, taking a break for this long or longer can help generate ideas. It’s called unconscious processing or unconscious cognition.
As HubSpot explains, unconscious processing is the 3rd step of James Webb Young’s “4 step process to producing ideas“. It essentially says that after gathering and digesting raw material, you should stop trying to bring ideas together and do anything to take your mind off of it. Listening to music, watching a movie, or like Ani said, going for a walk. “Even when you’re not actively thinking about a problem, the mind has its own way of processing information and making connections.”
Other physical factors
Another physical health factor that I’ve come to terms with recently is not working on an empty stomach. Sometimes I put off eating because I’m determined to finish something I’ve started but then I find myself getting more easily frustrated and irritable (aka hangry) and am actually less productive. The right music can also help. Something chill but with a consistent, uptempo beat, like deep house. It puts me in an almost sort of “work hypnosis”. I recommend Nora En Pure’s weekly Purified mixes.
Sooner or later, most of us struggle with staying productive. While some hacks work better for different people and a simple Google search can reveal dozens of more tips on productivity and stress relief, hopefully you’ll find some of these helpful. Let us know what hacks work for you by interacting with us on social media.