How To Stay Productive Through Life’s Big Changes

December 15th, 12:03 am

How To Stay Productive Through Life’s Big Changes

Moods, focus, and priorities shift all of the time. Seasons bring new distractions with holiday parties and planning, while everyday complications like a flat tire can impact your productivity. Sometimes it’s hard to leave life at the door.

In these moments, it’s good to have a productivity toolbox to help alleviate the stress and stay motivated at the office. Here are some steps you can take to care for yourself and focus on your to-dos.

Feel Your Emotions

First off, no matter what’s on your mind, it’s important to feel and accept your emotions and circumstances. If you were late to work, spilled your morning coffee, and just can’t seem to shake the rough start, you don’t have to forfeit your whole day.

Start by taking a few deep breaths. Ask yourself:

  • What are you thinking?
  • How do you physically feel?
  • Do you have any tension?
  • Do you have unmet needs, like hunger?

After giving yourself a self-evaluation, continue deep breathing and let it go. If you’re clenching your jaw, stretch and release it. If you realize you’re thirsty, refill your water bottle.

Taking 5 minutes to comfort yourself is one of the best ways to move on.

Work With Your Concerns

Once you’re recentered, what is preventing you from your work? In the rushed morning case above, you’re likely feeling stressed. In that case, working with your stress and planning regular breaks can help you care for yourself and continue to check off your daily work items.

Of course, distractions, a lack of motivation, or burn out can all affect productivity. Here are some other time management techniques for your mood.

Break Steps Down to Get Over Intimidation

A big project or looming deadline can make a project feel overwhelming, and it’s hard to get started. The Getting Things Done time management technique can help you see the smaller steps to the big picture.

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  • List your work tasks
  • Identify action items in these tasks
  • Prioritize the tasks
  • Get started on the first tasks, and schedule the rest for later

Identifying action items first allows you to begin the project without barriers until you’re in a flow.

Identify Distractions to Focus On Your Priorities

Whether you’re planning to buy your first home this weekend or you can’t stop thinking about your favorite show’s big finale, distractions can fill our brains and limit our performance.

Parkinson’s Law says that we’ll work to fill a set amount of time, so if you’re just starting your day, you may be taking it slow and letting distractions linger. Here’s how to get out of the loop:

  • List all of your distractions to revisit later
  • List your goals for the day
  • Set deadlines for each goal

Setting clear deadlines helps you finish your work early instead of waiting until the afternoon to get serious.

Task Batch For a Clear Schedule

Sometimes it’s hard to say “no” and your weekly workload has suddenly become overwhelming. If you have a hard time judging your workload, task batching is a good place to start.

  1. List your work for the day
  2. Identify your best and worst focus periods
  3. Group similar tasks, like emails and phone calls vs. research and reporting
  4. Organize your most energy-intensive tasks during your focus periods
  5. Schedule your routine tasks when you’re least focused
  6. Track how long it takes you to complete tasks for better scheduling in the future

Once you have a good idea of how long these tasks take, you can apply task batching to your weekly work and better understand your schedule. Now you can say “no” when you know your plate is full instead of trying to make it all fit.

Time management is a skill that takes practice, and it’s especially difficult when life outside of work gets in the way. It’s inevitable that some days will be tougher than others, but you can always prepare the tools you need to succeed.

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