3 Tips To Stay Sane & Productive In A Chaotic World
Become friends with chaos
The reason we make plans is straightforward: We want a specific outcome in our lives. As we mature and experience more, we’re able to see patterns that teach us how to anticipate something.
We become better planners as we grow. But the world is full of surprises, and most of us eventually learn shit never goes according to plan.
There’s no going around it. Your plans, goals, and routines — they will all come crashing down in the face of major unexpected events:
- The untimely death of a beloved family member, partner or friend
- Obsessive love affairs
- Global pandemics
When these things happen, the world won’t stop turning and our problems won’t just suddenly vanish. No matter how experienced we become, there will always be things we can’t foresee. Many times, they aren’t even under our control. When your normal flow is disrupted by chaos, there are two ways to handle it.
- Accept that there will always be chaos in life, and adapt.
- Refuse to adapt and become miserable.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll certainly take the former every time. Of course, the unpredictability of life comes with its own rewards. Chaos isn’t always bad. Sometimes, these disruptions can help us go beyond our daily routine.
But how do you adapt when the disruption is very negative? How can you maintain your productivity when you’re facing problem after problem that never seem to end? I’ve got 3 ideas on managing these challenges.
1. Don’t Give Up Your Important Tasks
When something interrupts your life on a major scale, it’s very tempting to develop tunnel vision. Since your thoughts are clouded, you can’t think of anything else.
This is problematic because fixating on a single problem can keep you from seeing other factors that may actually be more important. As you ignore these elements, you compound your problems.
You see? That’s how we end up in a viscous cycle. So no matter how hard life is, and no matter how tempting it is to direct all your attention towards one thing, stay focus on your important tasks.
Stick to your routine as much as you can. Keep doing your chores. Never neglect the essential things in life. Those little things will keep you sane.
2. Work Whenever You Can
Chaos takes a lot of our time. So I always keep it a habit to squeeze in work whenever I can. Even if it’s just a couple of minutes of free time, I immediately use it to work.
It’s very tempting to just “drop everything”, and in certain circumstances, perhaps that can be helpful for your coping. But if you know that you can squeeze in that morsel of work — do so.
Of course, when working in short bursts, you can’t truly focus and block a time for one major task. That’s what’s you do with deep work. Working anytime and anywhere is only possible if you have a clear vision of what you need to do .
I use Trello to keep track of my important projects. When I’m in middle of a hectic day, I just open up the app, pick one important task and work on it. I don’t waste time browsing the internet or thinking, “What do I work on next?”
It doesn’t matter if I get a certain task done over the others. I can simply look at my projects and do whatever I feel most doing.
Remember: the goal here is to eventually get back to your regular routines. But in the face of unexpected events and chaos, working in short bursts allows you to weather the storm.
3. Keep Your Body In Great Shape
Body and mind are connected. When we’re physically out of shape, our mind often feels the same. The opposite is also true.
When your life is lacking structure, challenges become more difficult. Imagine yourself going to a war without supplies and ammunition — that’s basically what you’re doing if you face uncertainty while eating bad food and losing sleep.
Your body needs to be able to keep up, in order to fully support the mind that makes all the crucial decisions. I’m not a fan of trial and error, but you need to discover the diet, exercise regimen and sleeping pattern that work best for you. Here’s what I do.
- Do your research well. Don’t believe everything you read online. Nearly every health expert has something to sell (both products and ideas), so be wary.
- Keep track of your own eating patterns (how often you eat, the amount of food you intake, etc.) and the kind of food in your daily diet (carbs, protein, fat). We all have different reactions to certain food types. So keep note of how you feel after eating, and avoid those that don’t make you feel great.
- Know your limits. You’re trying to strengthen your body, not destroy it by overtraining.
What works for others may not work for you, and vice versa.
Working Through Chaos
Look, no one expects peak productivity from you when you’re dealing with uncertainty. So why expect that from yourself? There’s no need to be too hard on yourself. Simply aim for being functional during a crisis. That’s a huge win because you’re making progress. If you do nothing, you deteriorate—physically, mentally, financially, spiritually.
Uncertainty often paralyzes us. It’s not the chaos that’s disrupting your life, it’s the lack of movement.
See chaos and uncertainty as a trigger that forces you to grow and become better.
That’s how we can embrace uncertainty. It forces you to be innovative and advanced with solutions. Once you live this way, you’ll find yourself responding to challenges faster, smarter and easier.