At the end of 2016, I wrote a bunch of posts about how it was a bummer of a year and suggested ways to get your mojo back and start 2017 with a bang. Only there's one small issue. For a lot of folks, so far, 2017 hasn't been so hot either.
Whether it's because you vehemently disagree with the policies of the new administration (or are vexed by those protesting them), because the world continues to be filled with more than the usual amount of dysfunction and hatred, or for entirely personal reasons, there are plenty of dedicated professionals out there who worry they're too drained by life outside the office to do their best work inside it at the moment.
Julie Zhuo, a product design VP at Facebook is among them. And recently she took to Medium to share her ideas for counteracting the malaise and ensuring she continues to perform professionally even though the world outside work constantly threatens to throw her off her game.
1. Channel your emotions into your work.
"When I fretted over women's rights at the beginning of the year, I asked myself what I could do to better support the women on my team. When I was going through a tough personal crisis, I realized I could bring more empathy to others at work. These aren't big things, and they don't solve the problems of the world, but they're things I know I *can* do, and a small step forward is better than no step at all," she writes.
This one isn't always effective, Zhuo concedes, but it can sometimes help to remind yourself that worrying doesn't actually accomplish anything or make the world a better place. Consider asking yourself questions like these, she suggests:
- Is it helping X's cause that my concerns about X are distracting me from getting my work done? (no)
- Will I be more able to help X's cause if I can perform my best at work today? (yes?--?because I can improve my skills, get more time outside of work, make more money, etc.)
- Won't I be creating even more stress if I'm worried about X AND I end up not doing a good job at work? (yes)
Mindfulness seems to be the solution to nearly all that ails us (mentally, at least), including the conundrum under discussion in this post. "I started meditating for 10 minutes every day at the beginning of the year (via the Headspace app) and I'm finding a lot of value from it," she notes. "The practice of meditation helps us be more aware of our present moment and less distracted by the barrage of random thoughts that tends to flood our brains."
4. Take care of yourself.
"Sometimes, the best thing to do is just to unplug from work for a bit?--?a few days, a week or two, maybe even longer?--?to get the proper time and space to work through whatever else is happening in our lives. I find that we often underestimate how much something eats at us and then negatively impacts our work," cautions Zhuo.
5. Talk it out.
If you're struggling with issues outside the office, don't bottle up your worries, advises Zhuo. If you talk through your feelings with trusted colleagues or friends, "you realize you're not alone. You have a group that can hear you, vent with you, and empathize with you. As with most most hard things in life, you can't beat the power of a supportive community," she insists.
And speaking of sharing your issues with a community, if you're feeling off balance at the moment, at least one survey says you're far from alone. And anecdotal evidence is also strong that politics in particular is (still) really getting in the way of people's productivity.
You might take some comfort in all that company, but if you need more cheering up, there's also plenty of advice out there on dealing with your anxiety. Or check out Zhuo's complete post for more details on her experience and suggestions on how to cope.
If you identify with Zhuo's productivity struggles, how are you personally managing your own?