Finding Productivity in Chaos

In a year of unprecedented change, and with our minds a million places besides work, it is easy to see how productivity could take a nosedive. But with the right strategies, it doesn’t have to.

On the NextGen online training, Finding Productivity in Chaos, Erica R. Wexler, Founder & CEO of Erica Wexler Transforms LLC, shared tips and tricks for remaining focused and effective during turbulent times.

It’s important to consider, said Wexler, that your productivity is often dependent on the people around you. As a manager, you have to keep this in mind in order to keep your team running smoothly, but as an individual, it’s also important to take time to identify where you may feel held back, or where you may inadvertently be a drag on the productivity of others.

So how can you and your team remain productive during an unpredictable year? Fortunately, there are some simple strategies that you can put into action.

  1. Continually Self-Assess Your Prime Time

Prime time is no longer just for football—it’s now about you. Some of us are night owls, some of us are morning people, and maybe there’s even the rare individual out there who’s at their most productive right after lunch. The key for anyone is determining when they are most alert and focused, and planning their most vital or most complex tasks for that time each day.

Restore, reboot and reset as a team—put a team meeting on your calendar with a codename, and then you can all use that time to take a nap, take a walk, and relax.

  1. Do it Right the First Time

Although we might think we can be on a conference call and work on a report at the same time, the reality, Wexler noted, is that multi-tasking is a myth. What that means is you’ll have to return to fix your mistakes later, which simply creates more work and sucks up more time. The longer hours we work, and the more tired we are, the more mistakes we make as well, so it is easy to get caught in a vicious cycle. With that in mind, taking care to do something properly can ultimately save you time and effort.

  1. Ask yourself Purpose-Setting Questions

Having a clear purpose can help you cleave through the distractions that normally sap productivity. Wexler recommends asking questions like “If we accomplish nothing else today, what three things will provide the most satisfaction and sense of accomplishment?”; “What can we accomplish today that will make it better than yesterday?”; and “What can we accomplish today that will make tomorrow better?”

  1. Plan in One-or-Two Week Sprints

Setting goals and priorities for a relatively short and manageable time period can be the key to long-term productivity. Trying to plan too far in advance can set you up to be let down by miscommunications and unforeseen circumstances, and breaking your time down into manageable chunks will help you assess what tasks are most pressing and what can be moved to a later date.

As 2020 has made clear, said Wexler, when it comes to productivity, “It’s not about work-life balance, it’s about thriving in the imbalance.” That being said, pacing yourself and taking breaks is also important, and can ultimately benefit your focus and energy.

Wexler even went so far as to suggest that manager could put a meeting on their teams calenda—say half an hour or an hour once a week—and tell them to use it for self-care, like a walk or a nap.

Ultimately, she said, it is important to set boundaries with yourself and with others, and focus on your priorities. Even in turbulent times, it is possible to remain focused and productive by following best practices.