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Forbes, “How To Reimagine Productivity In A Pandemic”

I shared my favorite productivity tips with Forbes, including how to get my kids to “class” on time while juggling client calls. Read more on Forbes or check out my answers below.

In stretches of disruption and uncertainty, reframing how we view productivity can yield big benefits for leaders, their teams and their organizations. With many office workers still at home—some facing health concerns and navigating new caretaking demands—efficiency and optimization have become more important than ever.

Instead of focusing on achieving 40 or more hours of uninterrupted work time each week, here  are some strategies for high-achieving entrepreneurs as they aim to adjust their productivity mindsets.

Adjust Your Productivity And Planning Systems As Necessary, Realizing That What Worked Before May No Longer Be Sufficient

Lani Inlander, the owner of a personal styling company in the Washington, D.C. area, says her sticky note system “worked well, until it didn’t.” She then turned to a paper planner with plenty of space to track her habits and to-do items. The planner’s expansive design and enhancements—features that complement a system of phone alarms to signal when her kids need to be in the virtual classroom, for example—help Inlander keep her complex schedule and business on track. 

Use Your Time, Energy And Headspace Strategically

Dang recommends segmenting your work into two categories: deep work (such as assembling a proposal for a client or writing a book) and shallow work (such as calling for appointments and ordering supplies online). Group all of the shallow work together and reserve it for more distracted times. Reserve deep work for distraction-free times, coordinating with others to provide caretaking if needed. For example, Inlander trades child-care duties with her husband (and an occasional sitter) so that both of them can zero in on their work. 

Retain As Many Pre-Pandemic Habits As Possible 

Inlander now styles most of her clients via video calls instead of visiting their homes to set up their closets. However, she says she puts the same effort into getting dressed each morning today as she did pre-pandemic, a process that includes laying out a professional outfit with matching earrings and shoes. So much of her productivity and creativity, she says, is linked to “feeling like myself.”

Wrap Personal Wellness And Social Time Into Your Idea Of Productivity—And Reset Your Standards

If you’re reducing your weekly supermarket runs or the number of meals you cook from scratch, don’t think of it as lowering your standards. “When someone says, ‘I’m just going to lower my standards,’ it makes them feel bad,” says Dang, recommending that we instead use the phrase “resetting standards.” 

“We still want to stay healthy, eat healthy foods, move our bodies, nurture our relationships,” she says, adding that we should acknowledge that any movement toward these goals is enough for now.

Inlander adds that a weekly call with other local mothers not only is “the number one thing that has kept me connected to the outside world,” but also it has cut down on the time it takes to figure out school dynamics and health tips. “It absolutely has gotten me more relevant information” than web searches ever would, she said. “That is totally what it takes now.”

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