Staying Productive During the Never-Ending Pandemic: Four Things to Try When You’re Sick of COVID

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE

“Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy, or burning the midnight oil… it’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time.”—Gary Keller, American entrepreneur and bestselling author.

As British author John Heywood noted in 1546, It’s an ill wind that blows no good. As devastating as COVID-19 has been, some positive things have followed in its wake. For example, the business world has learned to leverage remote work more effectively than any time in modern history, using new technology and approaches to keep teams together. Telecommuting and videoconferencing have reached heights never before seen, and I don’t believe it will ever go back to the way it was. Countless workers have figured out how to work productively from home.

That Said…

As the pandemic drags into its third year, many of us have become heartily sick of the isolation of working at home. You may be wondering, “Will this ever end?” Motivation to keep working may become a problem; I’ve certainly seen it often enough recently.

If you’re COVID-exhausted, here are a few suggestions that may help you stay motivated and on an even productivity keel until we can all work together again and fly out for out-of-town meetings.

  1. Maintain professional standards. Get up, shower, brush your teeth, and get dressed like you’re actually going to the office every day. Grab your coffee and maintain your other morning work rituals. If you’ve ever wondered why British explorers and scientists of the 19th century often wore their uniforms and turned out in formal wear for dinner, even in the field, this is why. Maintaining such rituals may seem odd now—not to mention snooty and colonial— but it helped them focus on their work goals. It’s much easier for you to do the same (not being in the jungle and all), and if you start out dressed for work, you won’t need to change when it’s time for the Zoom conference. And always make your bed.
  2. Maintain a rigid work schedule. Sure, working from home allows you more flexibility—but don’t let your significant other or anyone else tell you, “Well, you’re home all day, so you can do all the housework and run all these errands…” It doesn’t work, and even attempting it will knock your schedule for a loop and cut deeply into productive time. Plan your work schedule carefully and stick to it. Run personal errands after work, leave the television off, and do chores after dinner as you normally would have.
  3. Maintain boundaries between your work and personal life. Many of us let this slide, in these days of easy access to our co-workers and all our data. However, to maintain your sanity, set a time to end your workday and try to stick to it, whether you work 8-5, 9-6, 10-7, or whenever. Treat it like you’re leaving the office when it’s time to shut down. You are, even if the commute time is zero.
  4. Maintain open communications. With cheap Internet and cell phones, there’s no reason not to be easily available to others during your work hours, and not to contact your co-workers on a regular basis. If you’re part of a team, it’s absolutely essential that you interact with them regularly so you can plan and coordinate your projects, even if you can’t physically visit with them due to the lockdowns. Use Zoom and Skype to hold meetings and consistent 1-on-1 check-ins. That way, you can both see and speak with your coworkers, making your interaction livelier and more lifelike.

Grin and Bear It

The isolation of working at home may be dispiriting, but it won’t last forever. As of in February 2022, a number of countries have relaxed restrictions, and many states have eliminating indoor masking requirements. In time, you’ll be able to get back to work with your colleagues. Meanwhile, just keep moving forward, using the techniques outlined above.

What are your favorite ways of staying motivated and productive while stuck at home? Let us know in the comments!


© 2022 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored eight books, including FASTER TOGETHER: Accelerating Your Team’s Productivity (Berrett-Koehler 2018). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and a member of its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at an upcoming meeting or event, call 303-471-7401 or contact us online.

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Comments

  1. Great article. The right information at the right time. Thanks a lot for your work

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