Productivity craze has taken over the internet with a new passion in the midst of quarantine. And I can see why. The idea that we can stay safe in our homes and turn the stress and anxiousness over everything that is happening into measurable value for success is tempting.
And I am no exception. I have written an article or two about how to make the most of quarantine and listed all of the habits I have been trying to cultivate. "Just think about everything I would be able to get done if I just pushed myself!".
I imagined myself leaving my home post-quarantine in a gorgeous fit body, with straight A’s on my university projects and receiving praise for my outstanding performance at work. Glorious isn’t it?
Yet, the reality proved to be more challenging. Months in, I have found my steadily depleting motivation to be a chain that is pulling me down. And so is the fatigue that built up over my unrealistically high-performance expectations.
As we are all navigating uncharted territory, and we are all dealing the best we can with the level of uncertainty that we have. No one knows how long we will have to base our lives on social distancing.
Or how deeply it will affect our careers, personal lives and overall psyche. The changes are deep within our lifestyle and for now we should think of this as the new reality for the forseeable future.
I think that now is the time to recognize setbacks as a natural part of life, that we don’t necessarily need to power through on willpower alone.
As such we will not be able to be on our best performance at all times. And that is ok.The truth is that we do not need to be perfect with following our routines. Sometimes we need to take a break to recharge from the accumulated fatigue. Especialy when we are bombarded with negative news day in and day out that affects our overall wellbeing.
The key is to know when to push and when to take a step back. Evaluate what is the most importanhaving a negative impact on you. Then choose if you need to spend less time and energy on activities that wear you down, even if they are textbook "good for you".
While sometimes you need to cut your losses and take a step back to take a break, you are likely still bound by deadlines, so you cannot afford to skimp out on getting work done.
In the IT industry in particular, turning in your work on time is imperative to the overall project performance. In this case, the best you can do is make the most of what you have at your disposal.
Everything you do is a habit. Whether is checking the corona statistics in your area every day, or The routines you have in place help drive your productivity almost subconsciously, once they have been previously established. So if you find yourself demotivated, the key is to make your work process as easy to follow as possible.
Observe your habits. Ask yourself why you are doing the actions, what you get from it, and what the side effects of it are. For example
One of my most-maitained habit has been working out. After quarantine I couldn't go to the gym four days a week for two hours, so I adapted it to a home workout. But I considered all of the stress of the transition as well as the emotional wear-down of worrying about my family's safety.
I chose to go the micro-habits route. I now aim to have just a little bit of exercise daily. A small walk, some stretching, working with resistance bands or circuit training. I also introduced my bike to my routine as well as it seems to be a great stress release. I cannot comfortably maintain a grueling training program, so I instead tweaked my habits to do just enough to feel ok and accommodate my current needs.
Habits rely on accumulation over time. You start to associate repetitive surroundings, actions and activities with their respective outcome. For example - when you grab a water bottle, change into your gym clothes and put on your workout playlist your brain expects you to switch into training mode. And so you feel more ready to take on your exercise.
If you perform the same actions on a regular basis, it will be significantly easier to maintain the activity and extract the best results from your efforts. The more you skip the weaker the habit is, and the more time it will take you to get to your goals. The key to being productive is the two-day rule.
It is the only rule you need to follow to bring strong foundational habits. The core idea of it is that if you have a scheduled or repetitive routine you cannot allow yourself to skip two times in a row. And let’s face it, things come up. Sometimes we can’t show up to maintain your habits - you may be on vacation, or an emergency situation may come up.
However, if you set out to never skip on your activities twice in a row, you will still get farther ahead than if you were to get your habits derail completely and have to keep trying to rebuild them from scratch.
When it comes to being productive it is so easy to get in our heads. We become obsessive with the process and planning and setting up systems in place as an attempt to micromanage our daily routines. But in all of our desire for improvement, we forget to set aside the time for ourselves.
Yes. We need to have practices and a plan to follow. But more often than not the biggest changes come with doing as much as you can consistently. And allowing yourself to have a moment of weakness, as long as you keep yourself accountable not to quit will go a long way to making any good changes stick.
Do you believe in the two-day rule? Is this something you have been doing subconsciously? How do you stay on top of your habits?