How to Stay Motivated When Your Job Isn’t Saving Lives

A global pandemic can make that sales report due Thursday feel less urgent

Laura Vanderkam
Forge
Published in
4 min readApr 9, 2020

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Photo: Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

Laura Vanderkam, the time management expert who wrote Off the Clock and Juliet’s School of Possibilities, is here to answer your scheduling questions. Check back every week for more advice, and send your own productivity problems to asklaura@medium.com. (Your name will not be used.)

Dear Laura: I’m having a hard time focusing on my job these days. I spend big chunks of my day reading headlines and feeling anxious. But it’s not just economic worries or concerns about safety. I also feel like my work isn’t particularly important, compared with the magnitude of the pandemic. I’m not saving lives or helping others in a significant way. Any tips for staying motivated?

Plenty of people are having trouble focusing at work these days. Emotions play a huge role in productivity. When we feel threatened, it’s hard to focus on anything except the threat. With our current threat dragging out for the foreseeable future, we have to learn to live with these uncomfortable emotions — and that’s tough.

Fortunately, there are a few strategies that can help with focus, even in challenging times.

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Laura Vanderkam
Forge
Writer for

Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management books including Off the Clock and 168 Hours. She blogs at LauraVanderkam.com.