5 Ways to be productive amidst the global pandemic

The global situation is an opportunity to improve business processes and work habits

The lockdowns and quarantines implemented worldwide to address the pandemic shouldn’t be an excuse to be unproductive. The stay-at-home orders are not meant to make everyone adopt eat-sleep-awake-repeat routines. There are many things you can do to be productive.

The pandemic is a severe problem that affects not only people’s health but also economies on a larger scale. It is expected to send the global economy into a recession. In the Southeast Asian region, the outlook is similarly bleak. Disruptions in the supply chains and the drastic reduction in market demand have adverse implications for ASEAN economies — even those that rely on overseas remittances.

Economic difficulties are impending (or already ongoing), so it’s not time to use the lockdowns as opportunities to do nothing but rest or relax. Things will not return to normal even after the lockdown orders are lifted. The economies of the world will struggle to recover, so it’s only logical to explore ways to prepare for the hard times ahead.

1. Optimize your workflow for telecommuting

Arguably the most important thing to consider in the midst of forced home quarantines is how to make money. Thankfully, with the help of technology, it’s possible to find income generation opportunities online.

Many companies are already adopting telecommuting arrangements for them to continue operating. Unfortunately, not all jobs are compatible with a remote work setup. Also, some of those who have been telecommuting in the past are forced to take a leave because their employers may be unable to operate regularly with all the disruptions caused by the pandemic. As such, they have to look for other ways to earn a living.

The good news is that there are still job opportunities for those who want to work online. Many are in the IT field, particularly those involving responsibilities in keeping online activities running, from customer/technical support to network administrators and cybersecurity specialists. There are also jobs for writers, editors, graphic designers, web developers, transcriptionists, app developers, as well as digital artists.

It’s difficult to project how long online jobs will remain viable. Given the domino effect of disruptions in the global economy, companies that hire people online may soon feel the pinch of falling economic activities and stop hiring online freelancers. However, for as long as there are online jobs available, the sensible thing to do is to work in order to accumulate enough resources to use when the hard times come knocking.

2. Adopt new tools that improve your workflow

In connection to doing remote work, it also helps to spend some time getting acquainted with new applications that can help you become more efficient.

Most productivity platforms are now accessible on both web and mobile apps, and these include solutions for managing documents, social media marketing, presentations, design, and more. It’s a matter of finding the ones that suit your needs.

More than the use of productivity solutions, however, you will also need to make adjustments to your workflow, in order to really focus on getting things done. Working from home can come with some distractions, like your children, pets, significant other, or other household activities. It cannot be denied that you will need to give them attention, too. What’s important is finding the right balance in doing so.

There are some techniques that help improve productivity, such as the pomodoro method, which forces you to complete tasks within 45-minute periods. There are also the agile, scrum-based methods, which require you to focus only on incremental accomplishments, thus ensuring achievable goals on a daily basis.

3. Plan for what’s to come

The new coronavirus will set a ripple effect of economic destruction worldwide, and Southeast Asia is unlikely to be spared. It’s not a time for devil-may-care attitude. It’s advisable to come up with courses of action in case things turn for the worse.

Contemplate on your options if the community quarantines are extended. Look for alternative sources of food and supplies. Don’t rely too much on what your government can supply especially if you are one of those who have other means to survive. It’s preferable to expect no help than to be frustrated and not have any plan on what to do next.

Communicate with your peers or colleagues and discuss your options if the virus endangers your job or means of livelihood. It’s always better to work with others than to try weathering the crisis on your own. You may want to get an insurance plan. Health or life insurance can give you peace of mind as you face uncertainties.

4. Exercise your body and uplift your spirit

Another important way of becoming productive in the midst of a pandemic is by making sure that your body is in good condition. People with poor immune systems, the elderly, and those with preexisting conditions are the ones most severely affected by COVID-19. Don’t “nurture” a risk factor by eating too much and not engaging in physical activities.

Adopt a regular exercise routine. It does not have to be a gym-like kind of exercise. What’s important is to move your body, burn the calories you consume, and sweat out the toxins that accumulate in your system. Cleaning the house or your lawn can be a form of exercise.

Moreover, don’t let the gloomy situation bring your spirits down. You can become more prone to belonging in the unfortunate 20% (80% mild cases, 20% severe/critical cases) if you let the pessimism and negativity prevail.

Don’t make it a habit to track the number of people who get infected and die. Avoid conspiracy videos and articles. It’s necessary to get updated with what is happening, but don’t overdo it to the point of getting panic or anxiety attacks. Enjoy inspiring movies or series. Read an uplifting book or something that imparts new knowledge to you. Interact with friends on social media or video conferencing.

5. Support the community

Lastly, you can become highly productive by helping those who are working in the frontlines. Give a neighbor doctor or nurse a ride, or lend them your vehicle. If you have extra resources, cook some food for them. Inspire them with a “thank you” or a smile. Most importantly, stay at home as instructed so you don’t become another patient for them to deal with.

You can also be a source of support by spreading accurate information and sharing inspiring stories. Help in addressing the proliferation of false news that fuel public anxiety. Always try to be part of the solution, not another problem.

The pandemic is a serious crisis, but it does not have to be an absolute nightmare. Think of it as a test to become more enduring as you focus on becoming productive. Anticipate the difficulties that will come, but don’t let them reduce you into a personification of paranoia. There are things you can do for yourself and for others even while you are under community quarantine.

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