uncertain times

How to Stay Focused on Work in Uncertain Times

17 March 2020 | by Gina Lucia

There are times in each and every one of our lives when something unforeseen arrives and disrupts our physical and mental wellbeing and even our way of life.

Whether these are personal health problems, money troubles, family disruption or something global, it’s important for us to stay focused and calm.

Understandably in uncertain times, our thoughts can get away from us and ‘normal life’ becomes unstable and work can take a backseat. 

However, to stay focused on work (whether this is work that brings the money in or general productive work) is perhaps more important than ever. If you’re feeling displaced, frustrated or lost, then achievement and routine will be your best friend.

How to stay focused on work in uncertain times

Life needs to be balanced, so the following are some of our recommendations to stay focused on work and keep calm. Find what works for you and experiment, your wellbeing should be front and centre.

1. Create a healthy routine

If you find yourself working in a different environment, now’s the time to develop a new routine that suits you. As humans, we need a routine to feel comfortable and safe. 

Make this new routine as simple and easy to keep up with as possible. Set your alarm in the morning, make sure to get dressed, schedule in tea breaks and time to move your body.

Your main focus for creating a healthy routine is to make sure you’re achieving what you’ve set out to achieve with work, but you’re also taking care of your emotional and mental wellbeing too. 

Here are a few resources we’ve put together for creating routines:

2. Create a productive working space

If you’re having to work from home in this uncertain time, then make sure you have a working space that enables your productivity. Try to keep it away from your ‘relaxing’ spaces and keep it clean and uncluttered.

Here are a few resources we’ve put together for creating an at-home working space:

3. Monitor your social media/news consumption

The news and social media can be a hotbed of anxiety and negativity. If your uncertain time is global or national, you need to monitor your intake. Even if it’s not, you’ll need to be mindful of how and when you consume this kind of information.

It’s perfectly okay and necessary to keep up to date, but don’t let it interfere with your work or your state of wellbeing. 

Try to avoid checking these sources before you start work – especially if you don’t need to. The content you’ll be reading will likely impact the way you feel and will disturb your working day. Similarly, watch how often you check these throughout the day.

Because there’s no way of avoiding it, and because you probably should keep up to date, try to check news sources and social media once you’ve got some work done and you’re winding down for the day (unless you need to check it for your own travel or work needs). 

4. Connect with others

Whatever your situation, connecting with other people is necessary for your wellbeing. If you’re unable to meet in person, keeping in contact via phone call, Skype or Zoom is still a great way to keep relationships going and share and keep each other motivated.

However, if you’re in a similar position to the people you’re keeping in contact with, be mindful that your conversation will revolve around your shared troubles

Schedule in these calls while you’re not in ‘work-mode’ so you’re left distracted after and can simply relax. Or, if you’re really feeling the strain, set rules beforehand to not talk about your shared trouble (although this might be hard).

5. Pay attention to your mental state

At this time, your mental state will likely be ever-changing. If you’re looking to focus on work, then you’ll want to make sure you check in with yourself regularly to make sure it’s not affecting your productivity or the quality of your work.

Now’s a great time to develop a journaling habit. Grab a notebook or some scrap paper and start writing down how you’re feeling and any thoughts you have throughout the day (create a schedule to suit you). 

Trust me, by doing this you’re letting those intrusive thoughts out of your mind and onto paper. Once you start to recognise your mind wandering, you can monitor your workload and start to take action when you feel you need a break.

6. Be vocal about your needs

In uncertain times, it’s easy to go inward and try to deal with your thoughts and feelings alone. But it’s specifically in these uncertain times that we need to share in our troubles and help each other.

If your situation is changing, then make sure to tell friends and family how you’re coping. Do you need a little extra help in some areas of work or life? Do you need the people around you to be mindful of what they talk about? Do you need a little more time for yourself? Make sure to let your loved ones know, communication is key.

7. Plan fun and positive things to do when not working 

To make sure you’re productive at work, you’ll want to make sure your non-work time is as enjoyable as possible. This will be different for everyone, but in uncertain times, the last thing you’ll want is to be focusing on work alone.

Some wonderful things to do to offset this uncertainty is to do things that are certain and controllable and may even leave you with a sense of achievement. Here are a few of my favourite:

  • Baking or learning to cook/experiment
  • Growing veg/sowing seeds
  • At-home yoga or exercise
  • Puzzles or games
  • Reading/listening to a book
  • Watching a movie at home

But above all…

The world needs whatever it is you’re creating or providing. While uncertain times are never easy, they can come with a lot of opportunity for growth. As humans, we’ve always been skilled at adapting, let’s utilise that skill and get through this together.

Do you have any tips to stay focused on work in uncertain times? How have you been getting through? Leave us a comment below and let’s share.