4 Productivity Lessons From 1 Year Into the COVID Pandemic

I thought that the stay-at-home order would be about 1 month and we would be back in the office. I guess my hopeful optimism didn’t work.

Now that we are nearing one year from when the first stay-at-home order was put into place on March 19, I thought it would be helpful to provide some learnings from 1 year into the pandemic.

Productivity isn’t the same

Yes, I save the 20 minutes commute every day, but that may mean that I don’t have as many productive conversations with co-workers. I find it sometimes tough to have those meaningful conversations that I would normally have in person when using the messaging platforms to communicate. Sometimes folks that are working from home have a lot going on at the house. May it be from having three little kids running around or a puppy that needs love, it’s hard to not get distracted from work and pulled away from your day-to-day tasks.

How Can We Adapt?

Adaptation to the time we are currently living in is hard. It’s not as simple as just changing your commute to work, it’s trying to find different ways to combat the distractions around you and quickly changing the ways you work alone. Some jobs rely on working next to a team. Not that they are not capable of doing work on their own, but some jobs need collaboration.

I think one way we can adapt is by utilizing the meeting times. Since it’s not practical to have 30 meetings in a day, making sure to utilize the time you have during the meetings is very crucial. The next thing we can do is, come with ideas ready to share at the meetings. Being prepared, having them written down, and ready with any ideas that are related to the meetings is very important. It’s such a bad feeling to forget what you wanted to talk about in the meeting and then remember right when it ends.

Efficiency Doesn’t Mean Productivity

You can be efficient to pursue the wrong task, and that’s not necessarily productive. There’s a difference between efficiency and productivity which is extremely crucial to understand when working from home. It is important to figure out what the high-priority items are. You can find yourself working very efficiently through a task, but if at the end of the day if it is bringing little to no value to yourself or the ones around you, that could mean that you were not necessarily productive during that time. I think in general, it’s hard to be as productive as possible when working from home unless you rely on no one but yourself. There are very few job positions that require no one else around you. With that being said, sometimes working in a group over a meeting through a very high priority item is more productive than you working as fast as you can alone.

What Are Some Steps to Be More Productive and Efficient?

1.    Analyze the high-priority items for the week and complete them in order from highest priority to lowest.

It is so important to get a glance at how the week looks before jumping into anything. There may be some high-priority items that could save you time down the road if you complete them first. At Ascend, I have to constantly reevaluate my highest priority on a daily basis as things change so quickly.

2.    Check-in with the co-workers that you work closely with to see how your tasks affect theirs.

Sometimes you delaying the completion of a task can block one of your co-workers from doing some of their items on their to-do list. It’s imperative to check in with the ones you were close with to see if there is any benefit of working through certain tasks first.

3.    Come to meetings prepared.

If you always have an idea that you want to share or talk about at meetings, make sure that you are coming to the meetings with the ideas written down and organized so that they can be delivered and talked about promptly.

4.    Exercise before work.

It may feel tough to do if you are already waking up extremely early, however, you may find that fitness is supercharging your productivity. There are clear health benefits to working out first thing in the morning, but you may also see your productivity during the day, increase as well.

Less Productive Moments Can Produce More Joy

Being home with family more has brought me a lot of joy during this time as well. Even though you may find yourself a bit less productive at times, as you may have little ones running around your house, it may be bringing you more joy. It is quite special that we get the chance to be there for our little ones growing up during this year. Kids grow up fast and sometimes you have the chance to miss big moments when you are at work. With that being said, you may have had the chance to experience some extremely joyous moments with your family this year because you were able to work from home. Furthermore, if you are spending more time with your family during the workday you could see yourself being less productive in the trade-off.

I miss Productive In-Office Brainstorm Sessions

There is something so meaningful about having brainstorm sessions in the office with your coworkers. There would be times where you could all briefly chat about something and get to the bottom of an issue so quickly. Brainstorm sessions in the office are one of my favorite things to do, as I feel they add so much value and are generally so productive.

How Can We Continue the Brainstorm Sessions From Home?

The simple answer here would be creating designated meeting times to go over specific problem areas within the company that need attention. However, why I felt that in-office brainstorm sessions are so productive was because they happened right when a problem would arise, so the issue was quickly solved.

Ben Tejes is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ascend Finance, a platform to help people achieve self-improvement in the area of personal finance.  He helped create Ascend’s Chapter 7 means test calculator and loves to understand such topics as s corp vs c corp. He writes on topics such as Chapter 13 calculator and Chapter 7 bankruptcy to help people get out of debt and experience financial freedom.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

23 Responses to 4 Productivity Lessons From 1 Year Into the COVID Pandemic

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  10. Harsh says:

    Productivity is key. Nicely explained!


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