Feel Like You're Failing at Your Job During This Crisis? Five Ways to Get Back on Track.
For many of us, it's incredibly hard to focus on work right now. Between caregiving responsibilities, financial challenges, grocery store uncertainty, media armageddon, and our own health, a lot of demands have been competing for our attention these past few months.
For those of us who consider ourselves "workaholics," an additional dimension is the guilt we feel for not working hard enough - especially if we are not sick ourselves.
If you find yourself distracted and unable to deliver what you previously could, you are not alone. With that said, many of us can't afford to slack in a market where thousands of workers are losing jobs and our own companies are struggling to stay afloat.
Here are some practical steps to wrap your hands around what you can, and deliver what value is possible for your team while taking the time you need for yourself.
1) Intensely prioritize.
The truth is, most of us cannot work at 100% during the pandemic - and we shouldn't try to.
Instead, get real with yourself and hear from your manager about what tasks/projects are most important and focus on delivering well at those. Once you know what your priorities are for this pandemic period, use them to set two to five daily priorities.
2) Work for short focused stints, and plan for breaks.
With all that's happening around us, distraction-free time is at a premium and even simple things sometimes take more effort.
If you aren't succeeding at staying focused for longer periods, divide longer tasks into bite-sized pieces, then use the Pomodoro technique to intensely work at them for short stints, followed by a short break.
3) Schedule your day - but anticipate working fewer hours.
Now is not the time to just "wing it" with your workday. Schedule the work blocks you need, when you'll eat lunch or check on children/family members, and when you're taking off for the day.
For those caring for others, understand your work schedule may need to flex to accommodate them (e.g. more night work or early morning work). To the extent possible, avoid confusion by being upfront with your manager about the schedule you're aiming to keep and what responsiveness level you can commit to during work hours or around-the-clock.
4) Limit your news or social media intake, unless your job demands it.
Unless you're working in news, aim to limit your news and social media to set times per day (perhaps fifteen minutes at lunch and fifteen at the close of your day) to ensure you don't get sucked into a distraction loop. Set a timer if you need it.
5) Hack your productivity through soft accountability.
Find small ways to hold yourself accountable for moving work forward, like sending a weekly wrap-up e-mail to your boss with what you've accomplished, or setting clear deadlines in check-ins about when tasks will be done.
If a project has you stuck, ask a friend or colleague you trust to nudge you if they haven't heard that you've gotten it done in a few days.
Be gracious with yourself (and with others). A lot of us are imagining that we should be able to do as much as we used to, as quickly as we used to, and that's just not true.
Data tells us that our brains work differently in crises, and that taking care of ourselves is often the best way to get closer to the productivity we want to see and the value we want to deliver at work.
Melanie Rivera is a People Operations executive and management trainer and coach, who has helped dozens of leaders and their teams to maximize their effectiveness, call each other in to higher standards of around race and equity (without feeding a toxic "call-out culture"), and rethink people policies and practices that pushed great employees out or contributed to an unhealthy culture. Find more of her writing at Breaker28.com or ImaBreaker.com.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
As a People Operations executive and management trainer and coach, I have helped leaders up and down the East Coast maximize their effectiveness, call their teams and leaders to higher standards of around race and equity (without feeding a toxic "call-out culture") and rethink people policies and practices that pushed great employees out or contributed to an unhealthy culture. I founded Breaker28 in 2016 to help nonprofits and businesses create dynamic, inclusive, and high-performing organizations... Continue Reading
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