How to be productive when you feel restless or run down
The changes and stresses caused by the pandemic are taking their toll on all of us. It’s been almost a year now of being stuck indoors, working from home, juggling priorities, and potentially having to home school the children at the same time. I don’t know about you, but is it any wonder that we feel tired and run down?
This ‘new normal’ has a lot of us feeling run down, but at the same time, restless. It’s a horrible combination and it’s affecting our productivity. To help you get back some control and normalcy in your life, here is a quick guide.
Identify if your body needs a reset
Yes, sometimes, we can all procrastinate; we can all feel a bit fed up and tired every now and then. This is normal. What isn’t normal, is if you’re feeling this way every day. If you’re feeling any or all of the following as soon as you wake up and throughout the day, every day of the week, these are signs that your body is run down and in need of a reset:
How to reset your body so that you can be productive again
Make time for self-care – this should be your absolute priority when you feel run down, exhausted or restless. It may be really difficult to prioritise yourself when you feel so overwhelmed, but be tough with yourself and do it anyway. Without properly managing your physical and mental health, you simply can’t perform at your best. Get more sleep, exercise more, eat healthier, and dedicate some time to activities that ground you (e.g. meditation, journaling, meal planning etc).
Shift your mindset – productivity should be any ‘task’ that requires your time, energy, and attention. This includes any ‘chores’ that need to be done in the house and even exercise. Schedule these into your day and you’ll find that you’ll feel much better and more accomplished when you come to the end of them.
Prioritise and time-manage – first, start a time diary to figure out where your time is actually being spent. Do this for a week and it will help you be more mindful about how you spend your time. Once you have done this, you can establish an ideal schedule for yourself. Maybe you work best early in the morning, so start early and finish early. Once you have a schedule, prioritise your tasks. What are the tasks that are urgent AND important? What tasks will give you the most bang for your buck? Do these first.
Focus and take regular breaks – sitting down and focusing for long periods of time are not good for us. After all, our concentration is limited! To stay productive, try to use focus periods. Try the Pomodoro Technique where you work for 25-minute blocks followed by a 5-minute break. This will help you maximise your focus time and will force you to take repeated breaks. This technique is a good one for when you feel run down or tired as 20-25 minute blocks are easier to tackle than thinking you have the whole day to get through!
Avoid distractions and things that deplete your energy – distractions kill our productivity. It’s true – every distraction (no matter how small), causes us to spend the next 20 minutes trying to get back into the task we were doing in the first place. Turn off your phone notifications while you work and create an office space at home that is away from family members so that you can focus. It’s also a good idea to identify what drains your energy. Maybe it’s scrolling on social media or listening to friends rant about their situation or all the negativity that’s on the news. Whatever it is, avoid it so that you can use what little energy you do have on what matters.
Engage with people and get help if you need it – even if your team is working virtually right now, engage with them. Tell them that you’re struggling and converse with them. Conversations can boost mood and productivity so try to socialise even if you don’t feel like it. Sometimes, just sharing your worries or hearing that others feel the same is enough for you to feel better, but if it’s not, consider seeking further help. Whether it’s a business coach or a therapist, they can help you develop a plan and take back control again.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
We have all gone through or are going through this, as we speak. It’s a difficult time and a truly unique time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re feeling restless and run down and worried about work and your productivity, the first thing you need to do is take care of yourself and talk to someone. This is the most important thing to do. The rest comes later. Only when you feel better can you start to work better, so prioritise you.