Productivity is Not Enough. Be Proactive
Considering the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, we are all highly limited as to what we can do and how we can spend our time. It is also increasingly easy to cave in to procrastination and bad habits as we fall into the trap of social hysteria.
While the fear is very much valid and in place, it will add no value to our individual lives, nor 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 make a commitment to ourselves to make the most of the crisis and grow as individuals, both personally and professionally.
Productivity Versus 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. Let’s start by defining what each of those terms means and why both are a vital part of any efficient employee.
“The effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.” – Oxford Dictionary
While subjective, productivity generally means to have effective production methods that generate great results in terms of predefined targets. Being productive in my line of work means producing more articles within the same period of time while maintaining the same or higher quality of work.
“Creating or controlling a situation rather than just responding to it after it has happened.” – Oxford Dictionary
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. It means identifying issues without being pushed to do so from a different source. Once those issues are identified, it demands to lay out a plan and follow through until a reasonable solution is reached.
Combining the Two
Being productive is a must. Both as an employee and as an individual, getting things done efficiently can make all the difference as to how far your career goes. 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.
Controlling situations as they arise is in your best 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 to a successful independent business. Many have excelled with the opportunity to work as freelancers, especially in the information technology industry.
Being proactive in the workplace is more than just staying on top of your game. It’s about listening to the world around you and responding appropriately to the benefit of your company and colleagues alike. I am currently a part of a company that develops healthcare solutions, and we are all doing our best to stay on top of our game and remain productive despite the current working conditions.
While we have laid out all 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, whether it is 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.
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 one week, the event was put together and released. In the duration of only 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 in 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 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 hospitals around the world packed with patients with coronavirus, 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, avoiding contact is a must if possible. 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 the medical history and give them a chance to make 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 with legalizing the digital service.
- Hero Courier – A platform that connects volunteers and people in need of delivery of essentials. A user can put in delivery for themselves, and 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 at 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 just keeping your job, but also helping those who need it most.
As a direct result of being proactive, all participants made valuable connections to entrepreneurs in the community and were able to test the limits of their creativity. They were all left with a meaningful project under their belt 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.
Being under quarantine and having uncertainty 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’m not the only one who forgot to take care of myself for a while, feeling overwhelmed.
However, being proactive can be a tool to battle the current crisis, even if considered 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 becoming sick from COVID-19. Maintaining a healthier mindset toward our habits will also help us all get back 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.
Decide What’s Important
Find ways to make your life better for your current and future self. Determine what self-care goals are important to you and start working on them.
Being physically healthy is an obvious perk for any professional. Developers, in particular, are highly dependent on their intellectual performance, which is affected greatly by their overall physical well-being. Exercise helps blood circulation to the brain and, as a direct result, improves focus, logical thinking, and responsiveness.
The stronger you are, the better your chances are at a better future—and also the more you can help others.
Maintain a habit of daily exercise with a simple goal of 10 to 15 minutes every day. It can be stretching, it can be lifting weights, or it can be dancing around or taking a walk around the house. It could end up lasting for longer than your goal of exercise simply because it feels good and you don’t want to stop.
You could also make an effort to eat balanced and take vitamins daily. If no food group is off-limits, you can indulge with small portions, which helps to curb any binge-eating cravings.
No one is immune to burnout. And many developers have reached dangerous levels of stress when neglecting mental health. Even in usual times, the stress of everyday activities can be overwhelming. With all the fear and uncertainty that comes with social distancing and the global pandemic, looking after yourself is even more important.
If you’re dealing with a stressful event or life-altering circumstance, do more of what makes you feel better.
Get as much sleep as you need and communicate with the people in your life who are encouraging, loving, and supportive. Drink plenty of water.
Pick up journaling and use it whenever you feel like you need it. Writing down your thoughts gives you 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.
Work is important to people. Many developers love their work. They are good at it and they enjoy it. Doing your best to maintain healthy working habits is imperative for you to feel useful and normal. So make it a priority to meet your targets and work at a healthy but productive pace. To do that, you may need to make some adjustments.
Dedicate an area in your home for work only: Keep it simple with a desk, a chair, and a lamp. Take the time to set up your workspace in a way that assists your process. Depending on your work demands and habits, customize your space for your needs. Moderate the light, the objects you are surrounded by, and the hours you work based on how you perform the best.
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. Here you can expand your hobbies, your artistic side, and your creative thinking. You can cook up a passion project you have been procrastinating on.
If you feel like doing more of something, just do it! Within reason, of course. Incorporate your new activities gradually into your lifestyle and observe how the rest of your life is affected as you make changes.
Growth as a Principle
All hardship in life challenges our values and principles. The COVID-19 crisis has made many, including myself, question what is truly important to us in a time such as this.
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, and 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 them closer to their 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 post 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 comments section and spark a discussion.