Productivity at Work Has Taken a Hit in This Time of Uncertainty — Here's How to Take Back Control

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 29, 2024 at 11:55AM UTC

We’ve all been through a lot in the past few years. The pandemic, of course, forever altered our reality and put us all in an unprecedented crisis, affecting most of us personally and professionally. 

Of course, it was only natural for our work habits to take a hit during this chaotic period. And with another recession potentially headed our way, many of us are wondering: how much more can we take?

BrightPlan’s 2022 Wellness Barometer Survey found that 72% of employees are stressed about finances — an increase of 7% since last year — and that rising inflation and retirement planning are major contributing factors. With so much economic uncertainty, how can we possibly stay productive and maintain control?

It’s a difficult feat, to be sure, but not an impossible one. Here are some tips for taking back control, even when times feel chaotic.

1. Prioritize self-care.

Self-care is important at all times, but it’s especially critical when things are in flux and you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. You need to take care of yourself psychologically and physically.

By self-care, we don’t just mean taking bubble baths and getting pedicures — although if these are your cup of tea, they can certainly help. Self-care also encompasses activities that keep you healthy and consistent. By instituting good habits, you will be taking charge of the things you can control, including your well-being. For example, incorporate activities like exercise into your daily routine. Eat regular, balanced meals, and drink plenty of water. Try to get on a regular sleep schedule — sleep hygiene is important for your mental and physical well-being.

Additionally, stay social, and keep up with friends. These connections are important for you and will aid your overall health.

2. Plan ahead. 

Don’t just think in terms of the bigger picture — think about the day-to-day as well. Make goals and plans for each day. To-do lists can help you keep everything in order and ensure you’re meeting deadlines and individual objectives. Schedules will also allow you to stay organized.

But look ahead, too. Prepare for a range of circumstances, and consider how you’ll persist and stay productive in spite of obstacles. Then, if the worst happens, you’ll have the tools to allow you to get through it.

3. Avoid overworking.

You’d think that working, working, working is the ticket to being more productive. You’d think wrong. When you work so much that you never take breaks, you will inevitably burn out. You’ll also be less productive at the times you ARE working because breaks allow you to recharge and perform better. 

In fact, research shows that productivity per hour declines substantially when people work more than 50 hours per week. People who work 70 hours per week finish roughly the same amount of work as those who work 55 hours.

In other words, think quality over quantity.

4. Focus on the here and now.

Easier said than done, to be sure, but you have to accept that you can’t control the future, especially disruptive events that affect everyone, like pandemics or recessions. So, try to concentrate on what’s happening right now. This can be difficult for the anxious among us — I certainly spend time tossing and turning over what the future holds — but it will be helpful in staying productive and in the moment.

Some ways you can focus on the present, as opposed to dwelling on the future, include:

• Avoiding “doom-scrolling” or deep-diving into bad news items.

• Coming up with three good things that happened every day.

• Keeping up with the activities you enjoy doing.

• Meditating.

While these steps won’t erase the bad from your life — or the world — they will help you stay productive and allow you to maintain some sense of normalcy.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is an editor and writer based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab-mix Hercules. She primarily focuses on education, technology and career development. She has worked with Penguin Random House, Fairygodboss, CollegeVine, BairesDev and many other publications and organizations. Her humor writing has appeared in the Belladonna, Weekly Humorist, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, and Points in Case. She also writes fiction and essays, which have appeared in publications including The Memoirist and The Avalon Literary Review. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for staying on track at work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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