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Integrative Psychiatry

5 Steps to Remain Productive During COVID

By September 17, 2020No Comments

COVID has impacted our way of life in ways that we may not be able to fully grasp for years to come. So many people worldwide are out of work, and those that are working are dealing with increased stress, uncertainty, larger or even lighter workloads.

Many of us are working from home for the first time. And those that are working from home often have children, partners, and other people that are needing attention and care. In addition to the work-life balance getting disrupted, we are facing loss, social stress, and a complete change in healthy outlets for relaxation and entertainment.

With all of this change, you may find that focusing on tasks is increasingly challenging. Makes sense, the COVID pandemic is profoundly disrupting in so many ways.

If COVID has thrown you off your center and distraction has taken hold, here’s 5 steps to regain your footing and stay on track of what’s most important to you.

1. Create a list of your 5 highest priorities in your life right now.
This one is fairly simple. On a piece of paper or in a journal write down the five most important priorities in your life right now. Make sure it’s your priorities and not what you think they should be based on other people’s opinions of you. Examples may include, becoming a better parent, growing a practice, keeping your house orderly, helping patients with stress, meeting new people, or getting in a new relationship, etc.

2. Generate one goal a week for each priority.
Your next step to getting back into the productivity seat is to write down one goal you want to achieve for each of your five highest priorities. Get specific. This needs to be a measurable goal so you can objectively know at the end of the week whether you met the goal or not. For instance, if you want to become a better parent and your child is wanting more time with you, you can define a measurable amount of time more this week to spend with your child.

3. Complete one task each day toward your goals for the week.
Each morning write down five tasks, one for each highest priority weekly goal that will most likely get you one step closer to achieving those goals. Throughout the day cross off the tasks as you complete them. Although this may feel tedious, it will eventually become more second nature.

4. Reflect at the end of your day on the tasks you completed.
Skipping this step might completely undue all the work you’ve done so far. In order to know what types of tasks actually get you closer to your goals and which tasks are more challenging to accomplish, it’s important to reflect on how the tasks went for the day. If you like to journal, it’s a great activity to reflect on the behaviors you took that day and how they help you with your highest priorities in life.

5. Choose an accountability partner with at least one other person.
If we only rely only on ourselves for accountability, it’s easy to convince oneself to get to it tomorrow. When we bring other people into our vision and goals, we have more at stake to complete the job. Share your highest priorities and weekly goals with another person for at least a month. Establish a check in once a week with them about how you are doing and any type of support you may need to meet your objectives.

Productivity isn’t only about achieving goals; it’s also a way to feel self-worth, act in accordance with a vision that’s bigger than yourself, and enter into a flow state that eradicates anxiety and confusion.

During these challenging times, productivity is great medicine for the uncertainties that surround us. When we move forward with our priorities in life and see the fruits of that labor, we find that we have more influence over our future and the possibilities that surround us.


Frederick Barrett is a cognitive neuroscientist with training in behavioral pharmacology, and the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Dr. Barrett has been conducting psychedelic research at Johns Hopkins University since 2013, and his research in healthy participants and in patients with mood and substance use disorders focuses on the psychological and neurological mechanisms underlying the enduring therapeutic and other effects of psychedelic drugs. In 2017, he received an NIH “R03” grant as Principal Investigator to investigate biological mechanisms of psilocybin effects, the first federally funded research since the 1970s administering a classic psychedelic to people with psychedelic effects as the primary focus. He has developed measures of subjective effects of psychedelic drugs, and has also published first-in-human studies characterizing the acute and enduring effects of psilocybin on the brain. He is currently leading clinical trials to investigate the use of psilocybin to treat patients with major depressive disorder and co-occurring alcohol use disorder, and he is leading a number of ongoing studies aimed at better understanding the psychological, biological, and neural mechanisms underlying therapeutic efficacy of psychedelic drugs.

Will Van Derveer, MD is co-founder of Integrative Psychiatry Institute (IPI), along with friend and colleague Keith Kurlander, MA. He co-created IPI as an expression of what he stands for. First, that anyone can heal, and second that we medical providers must embrace our own healing journeys in order to fully command our potency as healers.

Dr. Van Derveer spent the last 20 years innovating and testing a comprehensive approach to addressing psychiatric challenges which transcends the conventional model he learned in medical school at Vanderbilt University and residency at University of Colorado, while deeply engaging his own healing path.

He founded the Integrative Psychiatric Healing Center in in 2001 in Boulder, CO, where he currently practices. Dr. Van Derveer regards unresolved emotional trauma as the most significant root cause of psychiatric symptoms in integrative psychiatry practice, along with gut issues, hormone imbalances, inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and other functional medicine challenges. He is trained in Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, Internal Family Systems, and other psychotherapy techniques. His current clinical passion is psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, which he mentors interested doctors in providing. An avid meditator, he has been a meditation instructor since 2004.

For the past several years Dr. Van Derveer has taught psychiatrists and other psychiatric providers integrative psychiatry in a number of settings, including course directing the CU psychiatry residents’ course as well as with Scott Shannon and Janet Settle at the Psychiatry MasterClass. In addition to his clinical work and teaching, he was co-investigator in 2016 a Phase II randomized clinical trial, sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He continues to support this protocol, now in a Phase III clinical trial under break-through designation by FDA.

Dr. Van Derveer is a diplomate of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABoIHM) since 2013, and he was board certified in the first wave of diplomates of the new American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABIM) in 2016.