Humans are emotional by nature. Our emotions have a huge impact on how we deal with the world around us. Positive emotions often lead to increased motivation and productivity. However, in times of crisis or personal turmoil, it can be challenging to leave negative feelings at home and keep them from impacting your work.
Whether you work in an office or from home, staying productive in times of personal crisis is no easy task. When a child gets sick, a pet passes away, or you are experiencing some kind of relationship turmoil, the added stress, grief, and anxiety can be distracting, even debilitating.
Life happens. There will be a time when you have to deal with stress and still perform in your professional life. Here are some tips to help you stay focused and productive when crisis strikes.
1. Adjust Your Schedule
In a time of crisis, you may need to adjust your schedule to accommodate personal matters. When your personal life requires more attention than usual, time management is key to maintaining your professional life.
Take a look at your schedule and see how you can adapt it. In medical situations, you may need to attend health appointments in the mornings and work later in the afternoon, or vice versa. Try to plan your day in a way that maximizes the value of the time you are able to spend working. Consider scheduling your time in blocks with frequent breaks. Taking a break can help you reset and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.
2. Use Your Support System
If you are dealing with a crisis, it can be very difficult to stay productive without a solid support system. You may need someone to take your child to school, prepare meals, clean the house, or just to listen to you. Seek out the people in your life you know you can count on.
When you try to maintain everything on your own, you’re more likely to become emotionally or otherwise overwhelmed. This will not only increase your stress, but could make you less productive in the long run.
3. Prioritize and Delegate
Recognize that your productivity potential will likely be lower during times of crisis. Make the best use of the productivity you have by prioritizing your tasks. Create to-do lists and prioritize the most important tasks first.
Delegating tasks to others can be helpful. When appropriate, rather than trying to conquer everything on your own, look to your co-workers for assistance.
Maybe you are the type of person who goes the extra mile for others when they were having difficulties? You can do so again, but this isn’t the time. It may be difficult, but this is a time when saying no to extra commitments, or to people in your personal and professional life is okay, an may even be necessary.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
Don’t beat yourself up for not performing as well as you think you should. If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, anxious about a medical diagnosis, or stressed about some other personal matter, allow yourself to recognize your emotions as a normal part of the experience.
Feeling distracted or foggy during stressful times is not uncommon. It may take time to bounce back, so give yourself a break. Honor your feelings and do the best you can under the circumstances. Praise yourself for what you do manage to accomplish rather than feeling frustrated by any difficulties you are experiencing.
5. Acknowledge Difficult Days
Remember, you are human. You are allowed to feel emotions. Some days will be more difficult than others. There may be days when you don’t have the motivation or strength to even get out of bed. Some tasks may slip your mind, even when you’re trying to focus on what’s important.
It may sound selfish, but if you are going through a personal crisis, you need to make sure that you are putting yourself first. Be honest about what you can and cannot do and try not to take on more than you know you can.
Don’t berate yourself for your own feelings. Allow yourself to feel the emotions at the surface. Take comfort in the fact that everything passes with time.
6. Share Your Feelings Selectively
Depending on your situation, you may be obligated to share some information with your supervisor, but you may want to be more cautious when sharing information with coworkers.
Talking about your situation can provide you with support and help you process your emotions. However, it is important to use discernment when sharing personal details.
Ask yourself how sharing this personal information will impact your working relationship. Is your workplace friendly and open with personal concerns? How might telling your coworkers impact your performance at work? Remember, when you open up to others about personal matters, you are also opening the door to their advice or input.
In some instances, sharing your situation with your colleagues may make things easier for you. In others, it could just further complicate matters. Consider the effects and use discernment before you choose to share.
7. Take Care of Yourself
When you are under a large amount of stress, it can be easy to forget about the importance of self-care. In times of crisis, people tend to be more vulnerable. Taking care of yourself during this time is more important than ever. Remember to eat healthy foods, exercise, and rest. Maintaining your health and well-being is the best investment for your future self.
8. Practice Living in the Moment
Meditation and mindfulness practices can help you embrace the moment and find feelings of inner peace and acceptance during hard times. Learning how to be present, can help prevent you from ruminating about your problems, dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future.
It may also be helpful to re-frame your time at work as an escape from what is happening in your personal life. Focusing on another task can provide temporary relief from any turmoil or crisis you may be dealing with at home.
9. Choose Positive Coping Skills
Whether it’s smoking, drinking, overspending, or some other addictive behavior, everyone has their vices. Stress makes you want to reach for that negative coping mechanism. While indulgence may relieve some stressful feelings immediately, over-doing it can make things worse and increase the amount of stress you are dealing with.
Rather than engaging in a bad habit, try spending time with loved ones, exercising, eating a great healthy meal, napping, meditating, trying a new hobby, or working on a creative activity. These are just some examples of better coping techniques. Each person is different though, so just try find something that helps you feel better without causing harm to yourself or your relationships.
10. Take Some Time Off
As much as you might want to be productive, sometimes it will be necessary to take time off to heal. If it becomes too challenging to keep up with your workload, ask to use vacation time or sick days.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need from your employer. The best time to request a leave of absence is before a personal crisis begins affecting your performance. Your employer should be willing to work with you to find a solution that accommodates everyone’s needs.
You may feel guilty for missing work, but remember emotional crises can be as debilitating as physical illness. Time away from work may be the best way to start the healing process.
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