How to remain productive during Covid-19

Changing one's perspective about work can be helpful and provide a sense of calm and distraction

WEEHAWKEN, NEW JERSEY - APRIL 10: Social distance signs are posted on fences on April 10, 2020 in Weehawken, New Jersey. COVID-19 has spread to countries throughout the world, claiming nearly 103,000 lives and infecting nearly 1.7 million people.   Michael Loccisano/Getty Images/AFP

Last week was the first time I felt truly overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic. I was worried about the possibility of the coronavirus extending for a long period of time and negatively impacting all aspects of my life. That negative state took over me for two days, and I didn’t feel like working at all. Instead, I spent time catching up on reading fiction, watching television and most importantly not tuning into the news.

Many of us are feeling overwhelmed because of Covid-19. It is extremely challenging when there is work to do and clients who depend on you. It is normal if we don’t feel productive for a while, given we are dealing with major uncertainty today.

I found changing my perspective about work helpful. Finding ways to enhance our customers’ experience, or coming up with a new strategy, provided a sense of calm and the necessary distraction I needed.

So how can you re-focus and not get overwhelmed by the state of the world today?

Focus on work tasks. Instead of perceiving work the way I always did, I decided to add more value and double up on the time I allocate towards my clients. We are in this pandemic together after all and adding value in these times can go a long way towards customer satisfaction. That takes shape in shape in

various ways for different businesses. For me offering complimentary services, helped put my mind off Covid-19 and positively impacted my wellbeing. I’m also taking advantage of the quieter times to plan ahead for the next period and investing time in cleaning up office files.

Research new ways to challenge yourself. Many of us found ourselves with more free time at home and less work, given the circumstances. One good way to distract yourself is by finding a new challenge. So, what are the options? You can join online webinars, virtual events, or earn new certificates that enhance your CV. I'm currently undertaking new courses in new fields that are quite challenging, but also exciting and they are inspiring new ideas and ways of thinking.

Set a time limit to consuming news. The past weeks, I was consuming updates on Covid-19 all day long, from social media to news websites. I even had my TV tuned in to the channel that provided a live feed on the number of infections globally. Then I realised that was what mainly contributed to my anxiety. So, I decided to limit my news intake to 20 minutes in the morning, before I start work, and I would avoid it as much as possible during the day. I also made sure not to read the news before I went to bed, in order to have a good night sleep.

Focus on your clients. Your clients are going through the same crisis as you. It is important, if applicable to your line of work, to provide them with more value in exchange for your products and services. Your support could take form of a discount, opening your business for 24 hours a day (if you're permitted), the option to cancel or exchange their product or service, or an extension on their membership plan. You could also share content that would help them maintain their health or good spirit, especially if you produce newsletters, or a blog. A client of mine is now organising free weekly health online seminars on their social media channels. Health experts are invited to discuss a topic and answer clients concerns online, and customers have been highly appreciating of the effort. In fact, it helped boost their social media pages and introduced new clients to their brand.

While it’s normal for the Covid-19 crisis to overwhelm us and increase our anxiety, the silver lining of this pandemic is that there are ways to maintain our focus and productivity.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi.