The global pandemic has upended our professional and personal lives over the past 30 months. 

We've gone from harried pre-pandemic days to more reflective days spent at home. In-person meetings, power lunches, and business travel have evolved into hybrid virtual meetings, happy hours, meetings, and conferences. It's become abundantly clear we're ready and willing to embrace a new way of life.

Being productive isn't about working faster or harder. It's about learning to live in balance. Not only should we acknowledge the incredible moment in history we've witnessed, but we should use these experiences to our advantage in our daily lives.

Here are five ways to elevate your productivity skills using powerful lessons learned during the pandemic.

1. Find new ways of approaching work

The early days of the pandemic quickly forced people to adapt their work and living situations. Existing structures or setups aren't necessarily the most productive. Sometimes things need to be shaken up so we can update what no longer works. 

Reevaluate long-standing business practices to determine whether they help or hinder productivity. Conduct a survey to identify ineffective and unnecessary monthly meetings. Review projects to determine whether they benefit more from in-person or remote collaboration. Update office layouts to encourage individual-focused work.  
 
Routinely streamlining business practices will not only stretch your creativity muscles but also prepare you for upcoming future challenges.

2. Embrace periods of inaction

You probably tried your hand at several activities during the pandemic, from baking bread to crocheting a blanket. Yet after an initial flurry of activity, boredom set in. Periods of stillness do not mean you're unproductive; it's just another aspect of productivity. 

Encourage workers to take their full vacation and personal time throughout the year. Make lunchtime breaks away from workstations the norm. Create a supportive environment for in-person and virtual workers to take sick days as needed.

The upshot? Well-rested people are much more productive than those who are stressed out and overworked. 

3. Be intentional in what you want

Making conscious and intentional decisions to prioritize your goals will help with your overall productivity levels. 

Create daily to-do lists with small actionable steps that will support your larger goals. Schedule blocks of time in your calendar to work on tasks. Politely decline unsolicited opportunities, invitations, or requests that do not support or further your goals. 

When you make conscious and intentional decisions, you'll become laser focused. You may even find opportunities that are 100 percent aligned with your goals present themselves to you on a regular basis. 

4. Ask for help and assistance

Neighbors helping neighbors, states helping states, and countries helping countries. The pandemic has shown us we can't do everything by ourselves. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of internal strength. 

Recognize when you need help and ask for it. Delegate general administrative tasks to a junior staff member, ask a colleague for help with a specific client project emergency or request detailed software training from a third-party vendor. 

The results will be immediate: You'll free up your schedule, client requests will be promptly addressed, and you'll broaden your skill set. 

5. Learn how to go with the flow

The pandemic has shown us that life goes on no matter what. Seasons change, people change jobs, and babies are born. We've persevered and learned how to go with the flow. 

Be aware of the natural ebb and flow in your work and use such times to your advantage. Active times demand a keen focus on urgent and important items, while passive times require a shift towards non-urgent items.

Provide extra client care, hire additional help, and use digital tools to their fullest during active periods. File backlogs of client paperwork, review hiring procedures, and upgrade tools during passive times. 

When you learn how to go with the flow, you'll notice how much more attuned you are to existing circumstances and conditions. Doing so will ultimately help you make better decisions.