Considering the current world-wide situation we are all highly limited as to what we can do and how we can spend our time. It is also easy to cave to procrastination or to allow bad habits to creep in. Another poor habit I’ve seen is individuals falling into the trap of social hysteria. While the fear is very much valid and certainly not out-of-place at this time, worry and fear will add no value to our individual lives, nor to our society.
All that being said, we have two choices. We can sit tight and wait anxiously for the next months to pass and come out on the other side, or we can commit ourselves to make the most of the crisis and grow as individuals and a part of our company.
Productivity vs. Proactivity
Both words have been tossed around a lot for a long time. You can hardly read any self-improvement content without reading about being proactive and productive. I believe we should start by defining what each of those terms means and why both are a vital part of any efficient employee.
To be productive definition:
“The effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.”
While subjective, productivity generally means to have effective production methods that generate significant results in terms of predefined targets. Being productive in my line of work would mean to be able to produce more articles for the same period while maintaining the same or higher quality of work.
To be proactive definition:
“Creating or controlling a situation rather than just responding to it after it has happened.”
Being proactive demands more than just improving on your process for the sake of results. It can often mean there is a need for a higher level of self-involvement. Such as setting the goals yourself. Being able to identify issues without being pushed to from a different source. And once those issues are identified it demands to lay out a plan and following through until a reasonable solution is reached.
What do I need to be both?
Being productive is a must. Both as an employee and individual, getting things done efficiently can make all the difference as to how far your career goes. And for many professions being simply productive may be enough, but if you have more self-driven goals then you also need to be self-driven in terms of proactivity.
Being able to control situations as they arise is in your interest. That is beyond responding to external demands. Having a combination of both skills can unlock an entirely different realm of work for you. It can be the bridge to a leadership position or a successful independent business. Many have excelled with the opportunity to work as freelancers, especially in the IT industry.
I am currently a part of a company that develops healthcare solutions (dreamix.eu), and we are all doing our best to stay on top of our game and remain productive despite the current working conditions. And while we all have laid out all of the objectives we are hoping to keep up with, there is more to maintaining a business throughout this crisis.
Meeting the minimum demands is not enough. We need to do more. We can participate in thinking up ways to make the process more efficient to meet our targets and keep the business running, or finding ways to make a difference in society.
Right now, people, businesses and communities need help. And there is a lot that can be done to contribute to our world at this time.
For instance, our CEO initiated a “Hack the Crisis” event. The goal was to connect professionals from various fields, provide them with resources and experienced mentors, and unleash their creativity and problem-solving skills. In only a week the team put together and released the event. And in the duration of a weekend, 800 people joined in and developed 111 projects. Some of which will get the funding to be developed and be released to assist the crisis.
Here are a few examples of what the teams came up with:
- Corona Positive – a platform that is aiming to assist people with the mental toll of the current social situation. Along with connecting psychologists with people who seek them, the platform also makes strides to add a shred of positivity to people’s lives by connecting them with like-minded peers. The goal is to limit the devastating impact that the COVID- 19 is expected to have on everyone’s psyche.
- Online doctor – A system that allows online diagnostics to limit the face-to-face interactions between doctors and patients. With the world-wide hospitals packed with corona patients, it is less than safe to conduct a usual exam.
And while all emergency doctors are still on call and respond to all health issues, if possible avoiding contact is a must. The platform provides a reliable, secure and confidential channel for doctor-patient communication. It also records all history of consultations to allow doctors access to medical history and give them a chance for a more precise diagnosis.
- SmallBags – Businesses are closed. We all know that. And this is true for small grocery and convenience stores as well as non-essential services. The purpose of the platform is to connect people with a digital version of service to their favorite stores – as a result providing the business owner with income, and supporting the economy. For this to be possible, the store staff needs assistance in fixing and featuring the digital service.
- Hero Courier – a platform that connects volunteers and people in need of essentials delivery. A user can put in delivery over for themselves, they can also order necessities in the form of a donation to someone in a less fortunate circumstance. The couriers are volunteers and assist those who are under higher risk or cannot physically shop from grocery stores and pharmacies.
Those are just a few of the ideas that were presented at the event. Being proactive in a time such as this goes beyond keeping your job, but also helping those who need it. As a direct result of being proactive, all participants made valuable connections to entrepreneurs in the community.
Further, we were able to test the limits of everyone’s creativity- making a meaningful project to add to their CV and a newer appreciation for what they are capable of in just a short amount of time.
As rewarding as assisting society can be, sometimes we need to help ourselves before we can help others. For many of us living under quarantine, uncertainty has become a core part of our lives and a constant worry can completely change us.
It opens the door to degrading mental health and lowered motivation to do things – for some; this means losing the drive to improve themselves and grow. I am sure I am not the only one who forgot to take care of myself for a while, overwhelmed.
However, being proactive can be a tool to battle the current crisis. Even if considered just from the personal point of view. At the very least, we all need to be proactive in maintaining our health as best we can. Doing small things that are healthy can help our chances if we do end up sick with COVID-19.
Maintaining a healthier mindset towards our habits will also help us all get back up on our feet once we come out on the other side.
My approach is simple. I started with consciously evaluating what is important for me right now. And then I thought about the small things I can do to feel better, healthier and stronger. I am sharing all of this with you, hoping you will find value in my experience, and find ways to make your life better for your current and your future self.
What is important to me:
Being physically healthy is an obvious perk. The stronger I am, the better my chances at a better future. And also, the more I can help my family. In an attempt to protect them, I do all of the shopping for necessities so they do not have to get exposed.
I am always well-protected with mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer on hand. I also maintain my habit of daily exercise with a simple goal: 10 to 15 minutes but daily. It can be stretching, it can be lifting weights. Or simply dancing around or taking a walk around the house. And usually, it ends up around 40 minutes of exercise simply because it feels good and I don’t want to stop.
I also take a combination of vitamins daily, make an effort to eat balanced. No food group is off-limits, and I indulge with small portions, which has all but killed my binge-eating cravings. Maintaining health demands proactive measures.
I happened to end a long-term relationship just before going on quarantine. The breakup, coupled with uncertainty and fear for myself and my family, took a toll on me for a couple of weeks. Which is why I took special note of my mental health.
I battled it by doing more of what made me feel better. I slept as much as I needed and invested more time to communicate with my loved ones. Drinking a lot of water became a daily habit. And picked up journaling if I was in the mood to put my thoughts on paper. Writing my thoughts down gave me a chance to process them and move on from them. The key to journaling? Forget structure and perfectionism. Let it be gibberish that is out of order. Let it be hectic, let it be chaotic. The relief is worth it.
My work is important to me. I love my work, I am good at it and I enjoy it. So doing my best to maintain my healthy working habits was imperative for me to feel useful and normal. So I made it a priority to meet my targets and work at a healthy but productive pace. To do that I made some much-needed arrangements.
I dedicated a corner in my room for work only: a desk and a couch. I sorted through all of my belongings and took my time setting up my room in a way that is easy to work in.
Personal and creative growth
Start small – the more you do it, the easier it will be and the better the results will be. Set small goals for yourself – something so easy that you can do it consistently with little to no effort. And adjust your approach as you go. If you feel like doing more of something, just do it! Within reason, of course.
Growth and productivity as a principle
All hardship in life challenges our values and principles. The current crisis has made many, question what is truly important to us in a time such as this. And for many of us, there are some core principles that seem to align: keeping our loved ones safe and healthy, maintaining a source of income and stability, giving back to the society we are a part of.
There is one principle for me that I do not see as often as the others, that I truly believe can make all the difference. That is personal growth – in whatever shape or form. To grow, truly a person needs to be proactive and productive with performing activities that bring us closer to our self-assigned goals.
For some, it may be getting more efficient with work. For others, it may be picking up a new skill and turning it into a hobby. And for others, it may be as simple as becoming more patient with themselves and their struggles.
Whatever our own weak spots are and whatever our goals are we need to continue making efforts to grow individually. It is what will bring us a better future and help us stay healthier – both mentally and physically.
I hope this inspired you to be more productive and proactive when working on yourself! If you want to share your own goals and aspirations, make sure to add them below in the comment section.
Image Credit: Miguel A. Padrinan; Pexals