How to Stay Productive in the Face of Natural Disaster

As I write this, Hurricane Irene is bearing down on New York City.  Living 35 minutes outside of the city, my neighborhood is seeing a ton of rain and the Passaic River will soon cascade over our roads.  For better or worse, this community is familiar with flooding and the Great Swamp is just five minutes away.

It can be easy for a storm or more severe natural disaster to cripple a community.

And kill your productivity.

So how can you stay productive when a storm strikes?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Define what "productive" means to you. If watching a movie with someone you love is the right thing to do, then go to it!  If you need to repair a broken gutter, that's where you should lend your attention.  And if reading a good book is ripe for the moment, enjoy.

  2. Limit your media. I find that Twitter is a great vehicle for information when a storm strikes.  You can see how Hurricane Irene is trending via the use of hashtags.  In this case, #hurricane or #hurricaneirene provides the latest tweets on the storm.  I don't enjoy the TV news as my anxiety grows with each image of storm surge or fallen power lines.  It's good to stay up to date without feeling overwhelmed by "too much news".

  3. Err on the side of safety. While I'm someone who likes to drive around during a snow storm or tropical storm, that shouldn't be your "normal".  Be safe, even if it means missing a meeting or bailing on a prior commitment.

  4. Write it down. As your mind thinks of steps you need to take to do cleanup, report insurance claims, and put things away, write it down.  Even in the midst of a storm, the GTD principle of "capture it all" still applies.

Be safe and stay productive, whatever that means to you!

p.s. I was inspired when I saw that Nozbe began coding lists that can be shared with others via #PublicNozbe. After the earthquake in Japan, they put their techie skills to good use.  You can share an emergency list as well here.