By Rachel Peck
Believe it or not, we’re only a few weeks into 2021 and it’s already proving to be every bit as unprecedented (we hoped to not have to use that word) as its predecessor. It’s days and weeks like this that make it hard to remember we ever lived in a world where our daily productivity wasn’t competing with local, national and international events.
So, how do you stay productive? In 2020, we all learned some valuable lessons in quality over quantity – an approach we think should be at the forefront of every business and organization moving forward. Even in a world free of political unrest or COVID-19, life will continuously compete with your work. While previously, we might have attempted to push through, we’re now more likely to make our work life actually work for us. Last Wednesday, we joined the rest of the world in watching the violence at our nation’s Capitol. There were three to four hours left in the workday, but for myself personally, my work suffered with one eye on my Twitter feed. Fresh off of a holiday break, feeling rejuvenated, with new ideas for the year, the events of last week were like pricking a balloon with a pin. All the wind went out of my sails, as it did for many others.
Enter another opportunity to again learn the lesson that when all else fails, do what you can and don’t punish yourself for not performing at peak productivity. Here are some tips to get you back in the saddle.
For starters, keep on prioritizing your health – both mental and physical. As hard as it might be, especially for those in PR, social media, marketing or any communications field, set boundaries with both work and personal social media accounts. While you might have to spend a good amount of the day online, put your phone in another room when you’re done for the day, turn on “do not disturb” and disable notifications. Anything you can do to create space between yourself and the constant news cycle.
Be informed, but don’t give yourself nightmares. We’re in a digital age where nearly every second of any major event has photo or video coverage. Last week’s Capital riot was widely covered by participants on Instagram and TikTok. But just because the videos are out there doesn’t mean you should watch them all. Be informed as to what’s happening, but don’t let it all live rent free in your mind.
Take breaks when you can throughout the day. Go outside for a walk, or a run. Put on a comedy podcast, watch a TV show from your teenage years, pet your dog or cat, talk to your family about subjects other than politics and COVID-19.
Most of all, remember these rules for when flying on an airplane – if the oxygen masks deploy, put yours on before helping the person next to you. The same sort of approach should apply for your workday in the most productive way possible. Start with taking care of yourself first, so you can better serve your clients and colleagues needs. So, let’s remember the lessons from 2020, as we head into the Inauguration week – sometimes the most productive thing you can do is step away. Work will be there when you return.