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During uncertainty, panic paralyzes many people into inaction. However, history shows that crises often give birth to world-changing inventions and enterprises. General Electric, Disney, Burger King, and Microsoft are just a sampling of successes that started during recessions. Adversity can be a formidable foe that cripples our minds and stunts our growth. Or we can harness it to be a powerful ally that pushes us to think and act differently. Discover ways to vamp up your productivity and creativity in tough times.

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Set small daily priorities

The volume and seeming magnitude of tasks we face daily can quickly overwhelm us, tempting us to feel as if there is no point in trying. Sometimes, we need to break down the big picture into manageable portions. Zoom in on what you want to accomplish every day, week, month, and year. Work on three or four small but essential tasks that will move you closer to your goals.

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Write every day

Darius Foroux recommends writing at least 30 minutes a day. This practice can help you gather and study your thoughts. Some people choose to write with pen and paper while others prefer journaling digitally. Either way, writing is a powerful means to clear your head and become a deeper thinker. Make a habit of recording your dreams as soon as you wake up. Countless inventions, discoveries, and artistic masterpieces are literally dreams come true. Niels Bohr’s atomic model, Christopher Nolan’s film Inception, and John Lennon’s “#9 Dream” were all created from dreams.

Sitting by the table, writing, on the wooden terrace in front yard, enjoying a beautiful view into the forest and the mountains lechatnoir / Getty Images
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Work with what you have

Difficult circumstances call for a new level of resourcefulness. What or who you have depended upon may no longer be available. However, you still have resources at your disposal to turn life in your favor. If you’re feeling stuck, ask yourself:

  • What else can I try?
  • Is what I’m trying to get what I really want?
  • Is there something similar to what I want that could work toward my goals?
  • Who has done what I’m trying to do, and how can I study what they’ve done?
A young african business woman framing a building downtown Nairobi with her fingers Buena Vista Images / Getty Images
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Make something for yourself

Creating can be therapeutic, relieving your mind temporarily from troubles and stress and enabling you to let inspiration flow. Art comes in many forms: drawing, singing, dancing, gardening, and building. If hard times have left you with extra time on your hands, put down the digital devices and pick up a simple hobby such as sketching or crocheting.

family gardening AleksandarNakic / Getty Images

Be accountable

Although we need to cultivate our own motivation, our purpose and actions usually affect others, including family, co-workers, neighbors, and society as a whole. It is important to hold yourself to your own standards and goals. Engage with at least one accountability partner such as a coach or mentor who can help keep you in check and cheer you on.

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Set up for success at home

Take advantage of the flexibility you have and set a schedule that works best for you if that is possible. Prepare your mind for work by changing into day clothes; dress for comfort unless you are videoconferencing. Set up your home office in a quiet, neat area away from distractions such as TVs and other household members.

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Rest Your Mind and Body

Insomnia is costing workers about 11 days’ worth of productivity every year. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that most adults should get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night, but many professionals are not resting enough. A study by the AASM reported that people with moderate to severe insomnia experienced more than twice the productivity loss compared to those without insomnia.

sleeping peacefully Damir Khabirov / Getty Images

Muster up motivation

Motivation is having a reason for doing what we do. Even in easy times, it is difficult to get and stay motivated on our own. Lack of motivation is a result of a lack of a sense of purpose, according to personal development expert Darius Foroux. Our sense of purpose should derive from understanding our core values. Many people have become accustomed to external motivators, and our minds naturally gravitate toward distractions. The motivation needed to be productive must arise from within, as we decide on and consistently work toward our life’s purpose. This calls for training our minds to stay focused on our core values so that our actions will more often align with our purpose.

Inspirational quote on notebook and dried statice flowers with retro filter effect happydancing / Getty Images

Pursue what you really want

Many ships reach their destinations in spite of rough seas. The turmoil doesn’t stop them because they have a definite destination, course, and navigation tools to help them stay on track. Knowing our path can help stabilize us when the world rocks and reels around us. Whether in pleasant or uncomfortable times, we need to acknowledge and honor our true hopes and ambitions, not what we have been taught to seek. It may be necessary to chart a different course altogether. When we set our path according to our dreams, we can find it easier to be productive towards them.

Thoughtful man relaxing at home. Ezra Bailey / Getty Images

Keep calm and meditate

Growing evidence confirms a host of health and psychological benefits of mindfulness meditation. It doesn’t take long to realize these advantages that include enhanced focus, lower stress, and greater ability to prioritize. A University of Washington Seattle study found that employees who had an eight-week meditation course were more focused and had better attitudes towards work than workers who had taken an eight-week relaxation course.

serenity meditation electravk / Getty Images

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