Let’s face it: These are extraordinary times. We’re all living in self-isolation and our lives have turned upside down. 

How then do you push yourself and stay productive during these times? It isn’t always easy. As we hopefully inch towards the end of the three-week lockdown, we at Harappa turned to some of our learners via our Live Chat support and asked them what productivity habits they’ve been building over these days. 

A key takeaway after we spoke to 2,377 learners was to take one day at a time. Each day can be made productive by zeroing in on one daily highlight or the one thing you want to do to make that day a win. A daily highlight helps you focus and guides your energies in the right direction.

Having a highlight isn’t all. One learner has been writing down three things every morning: apart from a highlight, the list includes gratitude and a release. Or something you’re grateful for and something you let go of. 

In my case, the highlight of the day was writing a blog, I was filled with gratitude for my favorite lunch, and the release was the guilt for not finishing my reading list. 

A daily gratitude practice is an effective way of staying positive and productive. It’s important to appreciate the small things in life you might otherwise take for granted. Or to keep saying “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is,” a famous quote by American writer Kurt Vonnegut that a learner shared with me.

In your quest for productivity, you often move from one thing to another without taking the time to enjoy milestones. Being more grateful adds so much value to the rest of the day. 

Since the learner shared this quote with me, I’ve started to actively appreciate things more. Say, for instance, I’m driving my car with a latte in one hand and listening to a nice program on Akashwani Radio. I then think, “Hmm…if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” 

It’s easy for our motivation to slip and to give up nowadays. But it’s important to keep pushing and that’s a habit one of our learners picked up from the Flywheel Effect coined by, American researcher and business consultant, Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great.

What exactly is the Flywheel Effect? Quite simply, it means good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop. Just like a flywheel takes a lot of effort to get started but gathers a momentum of its own once it attains a specific speed, we too have to keep pushing until we make a breakthrough.

Our learner adapted the flywheel concept to meet her goal to grow her Instagram following. When she first started posting, she added barely one follower a day. But as she began posting more valuable content consistently, her followers grew until the process gathered momentum. 

The point is that it takes a lot of effort to get started initially. So if you find yourself apprehensive about starting a new habit today, know that it was always going to be a tough start. But it will pay off eventually.

This brings us to the last habit our learners have been working on recently: mastering boring fundamentals. Productivity coach James Stuber says any new habit needs a set of basic skills, or boring fundamentals, to build a strong foundation. Many of us tend to ditch these because they’re boring and repetitive. 

Say, for instance, sleeping eight hours a night, exercising consistently, and eating healthy are some fundamentals for a good life. Or at work, it could be something as tedious as cleaning data or plotting basic graphs for a data science project. 

One of our learners, for instance, wasn’t excited by the routine coding required to build a new product. He felt a disconnect between the ultimate goal of developing the new product for his company and the present slog of practicing to code. 

Since he wasn’t consistent in building this coding skill, his progress was slow. But once he sat down and began working on his coding regularly every day without any breaks, his skill levels jumped dramatically. 

So, make the boring fundamentals a part of your daily highlights. Make them a habit. And before you know it the Flywheel Effect will take over. 

Explore topics such as Writing SkillsProcess of WritingReport WritingTypes of Reporting from our Harappa Diaries blog section to build your skills for workplace success.

Aditi S. Biswas is a Learner Engagement Manager at Harappa Education. She studied Epidemiology at Boston University and is currently a student of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at IGMPI. She enjoys cooking and watching documentaries.

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