• Mel Butcher

3 Pandemic Productivity Reminders

You don't need a reminder that we're still in the midst of a pandemic. But you might need a reminder about things we take for granted that actually help us be productive (and, dare I say, keep our sanity?).

1. Take a Walk

Do you have a problem that requires special perspective or unique problem solving? Some recent research out of Stanford indicates that taking walks improves your creativity. That creativity boost will last through the walk and a short period afterward. Sometimes, rather than spinning your wheels staring hours on end at something you haven't quite been able to figure out, remind yourself to pause and take a walk.

2. Chunk Your Time.

It's pretty much impossible for any normal human to sit down and deliver top notch work for 9+ hours straight at a desk. Not only can the human mind not concentrate for such long stretches, but such a schedule fails to acknowledge the circadian rhythms that impact when we are good or bad at doing various types of tasks (read more on that in Daniel Pink's book: When). And I'm sure you've had the experience of going into overwhelm when there are too many tasks on your to do list to even know where to begin.

One tool for avoiding this overwhelm is chunking your time, coupled with prioritization. Essentially, choosing to prioritize important tasks over urgent tasks and setting up focused time to work on your important tasks. One tool for chunking, once you've identified the important tasks on your Eisenhower Matrix, is a little organization you can join called Cave Day.

The idea behind Cave Day goes something like this: A group of people with important work to do commit to join one another in a live 2-3 hour moderated session. When you enter "the cave" together, you are committing to things like - turning off desktop and mobile device notifications, closing your email, closing programs and potentially distracting browser tabs. You all do this together virtually in a Zoom room.

The moderator will, perhaps, throw you into a break-out room at the beginning to have a quick chat with others about setting your intention for what you want to accomplish in the session. But when the timer starts, the microphones are muted and you are simply in a quiet virtual space with a bunch of folks committed to focused work.

There's a check in on the hour every hour and at the end. You might do some stretching together, or the moderator might share some other little inspiration, and then it's back into the quiet space together.

It's really worth a try if you feel you need some gentle accountability to achieve the outcomes you are working toward.

3. Take a Nap

The research on this yields specific recommendations. Our bodies are fickle. If you nap too long, you enter the groggy zone and it takes too long to recover. If your nap is too short, you don't actually tap into the rejuvenating benefits of a nap. The sweet spot is somewhere around 20 minutes.

Done right, naps can, "improve cognitive performance and they boost mental and physical health." (Reference: When by Danel H. Pink)

Having a nap at the right time of day, is also important for garnering those benefits - mid afternoon slump anyone?

While I would agree we are a long way from corporations embracing naps as part of a healthy work-day, I'm very hopeful seeing Khaliah O. Guillory's business, Nap Bar. Follow her and Nap Bar on social for more insights into the power of naps. Links: LinkedIn, Instagram.


The bottom line here is this: if you are among those fortunate enough to be in some type of white collar job with any amount of flexibility, do make taking care of your health and sanity a priority. You will do better work, and you will be able to show up in the best ways I know you want to for your family, friends, staff and mentees.

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