Sustaining productivity during the pandemic has been challenging for even the most effective people. It often feels like a year's worth of changes occur every week, and trying to keep up with all of the changes can be exhausting.
To succeed in the uncertain, post-COVID world, you need to shift your approach to productivity so you're able to quickly adapt to the changes ahead.
Set Cross-Functional Goals to Continue Moving Forward
Setting specific, ambitious goals is considered a foundation of productivity. However, goals that are so specific that they're based on single strategies are major liability for your productivity.
Research shows that narrow goals trigger a variety of issues, including:
- Lack of intrinsic motivation
- Reduced desire to learn
- Extreme short-termism
And a variety of other unproductive behaviors.
When an unexpected event renders a strategy irrelevant or impractical, there's no clear path forward and you're left wondering "what next?" The lack of alternative paths to a narrow definition of success is a major productivity killer.
To avoid this issue, research shows that you should measure performance based on progress toward cross-functional outcomes instead of single-strategy goals. Here's an example:
Within the next six months, your goal is to have the financial resources to go to market with a new product. You can achieve this by increasing your revenue, conserving resources, lowering the cost of your GTM strategy, and a variety of other efforts.
Focusing on cross-functional outcomes is more productive during uncertain times since you can quickly pivot the specific activities you're doing to accommodate the current circumstances and achieve the same goals.
Develop Agile Habits
The people who succeed in the post-COVID world are those who quickly adapt to the many additional challenges that will inevitably arise. Research shows that agility is correlated with higher rates of success and optimism since agile people have greater confidence in their ability to face challenges.
During these dynamic and stressful times developing habits that enable you to boost optimism and competence is one of the most impactful ways to increase your productivity.
Here are three habits you can adopt to become more agile:
- Closely monitor changes in your industry. The only way to remain relevant is to spot emerging trends early so you can start preparing. Staying ahead boosts your productivity by helping you focus on activities that will drive your success.
- Engage in continuous learning. Successfully responding to the changes ahead will require innovative ideas and problem-solving approaches that you may not have the skills for. The more time you invest in learning, the more productive you will be when confronted with challenges.
- Embrace small failures. We're in a period where some amount of failure is inevitable. Chances are, you're going to face unexpected changes, pivot based on the wrong information, or make mistakes because you lack the skills to execute new strategies effectively. Instead of being demoralized, learn from those experiences so you can quickly start improving.
The more agile you become, the greater the control you have over your success and well-being since you're able to productively react to disruptions instead of being defeated by them.
Embrace Work-Life Integration as a Permanent Lifestyle Choice
The pandemic quickly forced those that are capable of working from home to adopt work-life integration. For most people, the lifestyle shift has been stressful and has made them long for the days when there was a separation between their work and home lives.
Though challenging during quarantine, work-life integration will help you thrive during reopening and beyond by giving you the flexibility to focus on your top priorities without worrying about overlapping work and personal time.
After all, under normal circumstances, you're not juggling full-time childcare, difficulty running necessary errands, health concerns, and the mental health effects of being forced to spend so much time inside. However, you do have the random doctor's appointments, evening work fires, and other interruptions that make it impossible to separate your work and personal life.
Planning for those events instead of avoiding them improves your productivity by allowing you to handle critical issues at optimal times and be fully present in all areas of your life.
To help you gain the benefits of work-life integration, we've partnered with the productivity coach Alexis Haselberger to provide a free webinar on how to use this approach to thrive during the recovery period.
About the author: Emily leads Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.