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Productivity Habits for the Depressed and Bipolar

Part of our series on mental health for business professionals.

We are told that the more we accomplish, the more the reward we will receive. Sometimes the reward is a financial compensation or a job status leap — maybe both types of gain will occur. People with Depression or Bipolar often slow down productivity at work when the symptoms of Depression increase. The more productive we are in a given set of time, whether it is a work day or a special assignment, might lead to more free time, giving us more time in our personal and family life. Let’s try a few productivity habits that can help anyone. You don’t have to try all of them at once, but utilizing multiple techniques may lead you to success more quickly.

Related: Setting Business Goals When You Have Depression, PTSD or Bipolar Disorder

First Things First
Taking care of yourself is the most important thing. This should be your number one item on your hit list. Items that must be finished today are your biggest priorities. When suffering with Depression or Bipolar, your priorities are hard items to define. “Fire drills” and other work interruptions may happen, but it is your duty to tell others that you can’t help them right now — you have something that takes priority. This does not mean you can’t stop by for a two-minute question and answer, but several 20-minute interruptions can put you behind an hour or more. Interruptions can increase your stress and possibly your delivery time.

If you delay in completing or even starting your most important items, you will end up not completing your most important item and that could lead to some form of unwanted input to you from a supervisor. Get someone to be your mentor to review or advise you on your project hit list. If your manager hints that you are not working on the correct priorities, ask for assistance so you you will be better able to manage yourself.

Clear Your Space
Another difficult item for some with Depression or Bipolar is removing clutter from their desktop(s). We all live with a certain amount of clutter, but when your files turn into piles and piles, these items can hold you captive. It is time to clean house! This is whether you are bound to a desk or bound to a tool box.

Organization helps you find your papers, tools, or your coffee cup without wasting time. Also, when you have one job going on, work until it is finished. I know having multiple jobs open at the same time can be normal for those with Depression or Bipolar. Working multiple jobs simultaneously can be a quick way to failure. Try some training on Managing Multiple Priorities, it can show some of the shortcomings of doing too much.

Related: How to De-Clutter Your Desk and Help Your Mind

Time Management Tips
Many people don’t make the best use of there time. If possible, avoid meetings where you are a fly on the wall, having little input. Are the projects you are working on more important than this meeting? Can you get the minutes or highlights of the minutes? Most business meetings take twice as long to complete than what is required to get through the materials needed. If you are curious on how much a meeting costs, for every $10,000 of salary earned, each hour is worth $5.95. Assuming everyone has a salary of $60,000, their earnings are worth $35.70 per hour for each person in the meeting. The cost to the company will be $214.20 per hour for a six-person meeting.

Far too often we over schedule ourselves. If a phone call, videoconference, or a special meeting runs late, then we are behind schedule due to no fault of our own. We can be behind for a day or several days. Try to give yourself some extra minutes in every day and, if possible, on every scheduled task. Over a week’s time you should log in a few unscheduled hours. These are not goof hours — plan for extra time now, and you will be grateful later on. Remember no one schedules a crisis, we just fit them in.

Once you have completed your most important tasks for the day, you should begin your tough tasks. These are the tasks you have been putting off, hoping they will go away. If they do, great, if they don’t, then they are the tough tasks. I prefer to do my quick email check to see if any details or drop dead dates have changed. Next area is the most important tasks for the day in the morning. My tough tasks right after lunch. Later in the day when, my energy is dwindling, I prefer to make phone calls and emails.

Avoid unnecessary work. Sometimes we believe we have nothing but unnecessary duties. There is a difference between unnecessary and undesirable work. You can have work that is undesirable but not necessary. If you are doing unnecessary work along with your necessary; you will appear not to be productive at all. You are only productive when you are working towards a goal. A goal is not to keep someone from complaining or making someone happy. The first goal is to eliminate non-essential tasks fro your “to do” list.