Maintaining Productivity Under Pressure

Middleaged woman haedache 2

This has been an intense week or so for me, where I have found the need to maintain my productivity under pressure and to revisit how I have prioritised my goals or ‘areas of focus’.

A healthy me is a busy me

I’m feeling a lot better (hooray). Consequently this means my ‘Crisis mode‘ task prioritisation approach is no longer in play and I owe it to myself to get more than the bare minimum done.

This has required me to rebalance my goals.

In Crisis Mode I stopped going to the gym and watching what I ate. My rationale was that I’d rather focus on getting well than on being super-fit and super-healthy (plus it’s nice to wallow a little when you’re poorly).

Now I’m well enough to work out I use my early-morning ‘free time’ to exercise. This means that I no longer have time before work to do ‘blog stuff’ – reading articles, drafting posts etc.

By re-allocating more of my finite time and resources to one goal I have directly reduced the time I have available for the others.

External factors make a difference

Normally I would frown on “I can’t find the time” as a poor excuse, but there are times when it can be a valid reason for struggling to make progress towards one or more of your goals.

In my case it’s that my youngest son is currently teething, which has two direct impacts on my time and energy:

  • More of my time is spent on bedtime routine (because he’s waking a lot more and is difficult to settle)
  • I am getting less sleep and am more tired as a result

The effect of this has been to reduce the time I have available to work on the things (other than my son) that are important to me, and to reduce my efficacy in those periods where I do have time (because all I want to do is sleep).

This is different to the Crisis Mode experience when I was ill – we’re not talking meltdown territory here, just productivity under pressure.

It never rains but it pours

Because it’s always the way, my work commitments have been particularly hectic this week, requiring me to spend a lot of time in meetings, turn around a higher volume of ‘urgent/not important’ tasks and generally deal with more noise than usual.

On the plus side I’m more effective this week because I’m not feeling poorly, but this is impacted somewhat by the fact that I’m more tired than usual.

So with all this going on, what’s the right response?

I’m still on the wagon

Late last year I wrote about an occasion where I fell off the productivity wagon, but felt able to get back on again with my head held high.

I’m thrilled to report that this time I feel like I managed to stay true to my new productivity principles, and here’s why:

  • I kept capturing and processing. Although the work input increased, because of my recent efforts to achieve Mailbox Zero and restructure my email folders to support that, I have been able to keep processing my inbox and filing emails appropriately according to urgency and importance, making an instant ‘do/defer/delegate/delete’ decision.

One useful addition I’ve made to my system I stole from Jim McCullen (Control Your Day) – as well as inbound email I now track actions i have given others, by moving the relevant email from my ‘sent items’ folder in Outlook to a ‘waiting for’ folder. This is really helping me to maintain a list of stuff I’ve delegated.

  • I rebalanced my goals. I’ve had to blog less frequently this week to support my other high-priority goals. I’m not entirely happy with having to do this, but I’m optimistic that I can find an effective balance that allows me to create high-quality, regular blog posts alongside my other goals.

I’m focusing on what’s going well

I have a number of things to be happy about right now:

  • I’m feeling better
  • I’m more productive under pressure now than I was last year
  • I’m back on the road to fitness, and feeling more positive about that already
  • I’ve made the right priority calls – family first, every time

The sum of all these parts is that I feel able to say that I’m staying productive under pressure, and that although I’m far from perfect I feel a tangible improvement on last year.

How do you stay productive under pressure? Join the conversation and comment below.

image © Paha_l | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images


One comment

  1. […] Maintaining Productivity Under Pressure Written by: Brain Cutlery […]

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