How to Stay Productive in Troubled Times

Distressful situations are a fact of life- a human predicament that seems hell-bent on blocking our attempts towards personal nirvana and impairing our ability to function. Though it may be unpleasant to have to stop and collect yourself in response to a personal difficulty, there may be times when you may not even have that “luxury.”

If you find yourself in an usually stressful or painful situation, yet still need to maintain some level of performance in either your personal or professional life, then keep the following four tips in mind:

1. Give yourself some slack! The very first step towards staying productive when difficulty strikes is accepting the fact that you will likely not be at your peak performance. To the best of your ability, you need to lower the bar. Otherwise, the stress of having to continue producing and performing, can just add to and prolong your hardship, not to mention sap away the strength and energy you need to cope with the situation.

2. Limit the quick pick-me-ups. When stress is high, people tend to reach for quick and easy pick-me-up’s, such as alcohol, junk food, and even antidepressant medication. This happens even though most people are aware of the negative consequences of binging on alcohol and junk foods, and the negative side effects of taking antidepressant medication over the long-term have been well-documented. While these kinds of crutches can be helpful since they provide a temporary “breather” from all the gloom and doom, they need to be used with moderation. If not, then the “side-effects” will far out-weigh any short-term benefits, disrupting your natural ability to cope and stay productive.

3. Your support system is key. The biggest and most effective tool you can have to help you deal with adversity is the network of people you choose to surround yourself with. This network can include close friends, family, mentors, a life coach, and where necessary a qualified professional, such as a psychologist. Not only can these people offer physical assistance and clarity, but they can be a source of inspiration, emotional support, and a place from which you can draw the strength to keeping going.

4. Maintain your physical balance. If you want to give yourself the best chances of staying productive then make an effort to eat and sleep properly and get some exercise. Though this may seem self-evident, often a person’s physical needs are the first to be sacrificed when difficulty strikes and this only adds to the problem. Not only should you try your best to maintain your normal, daily routine, but you should make an effort to avoid exorbitant amounts of junk food, caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars that are low in nutritional value and high in calories.

In short, though a distressful situation may slow you down, with a little care and some common sense, it doesn’t have to completely stop you in your tracks.

Gary Barzel is the manager of business development for Fastupfront. Fastupfront offers business loan alternatives for existing businesses in need of working capital.

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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.

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