Productivity and Managering through difficult times

Lara Hogan’s post on managering during difficult times and Eileen Webb’s post on productivity are both worth reading after a year like 2017.

Here are some parts that I clipped and think about quite a bit.


Your company likely has formal support mechanisms for all employees. Does your organization provide transgender-inclusive health benefits? How about coverage for therapy, or self-defense classes? Who should people talk to if they have questions about coverage? What is the process is for moving, or for working remotely? Does your organization do donation-matching? Can your company provide a space to hold protest sign-making workshops or materials? Has your CEO said something publicly about recent events, particularly something that makes it clear how the company will support its employees?

Demonstrating/naming that it’s okay to take a day off for mental health reasons, for visiting a doctor, or for generally taking care of what they need to

your reports may feel unsafe and burdened by talking with you about what is happening in a 1:1. Don’t create an extra burden on folks by springing the topic on them. Instead, here’s what I recommend saying, in order:

  1. As an aside, I wanted to check in and see if there’s anything else I could do to support you right now.

  2. There’s a bunch of stuff in the news right now on X Topic (where X is changes to ACA, or revoking visas for immigrants, or reproductive rights, etc.). I wanted to make sure that you know that it’s okay for us to talk about this stuff in one-on-ones.

  3. And, I want you to know that it’s also okay not to talk about this stuff with me.

  4. As your manager, I want to make sure I’m supporting you as best I can. Is there anything that would be helpful to you to chat about?


Set aside time in your calendar for volunteering and local government work. Like, actually schedule it, right now, and block off the time.

Schedule time for actual work as well. This seems like a small thing, but it can be pretty huge: instead of trying to get work done in the “unscheduled” gaps of time in your calendar between meetings and calls, schedule time blocks throughout the week to reserve uninterrupted time for yourself.

Floss. Can’t help no one if you end up with some weird gum infection that spreads to your jaw.