At some point throughout the last year, most people have looked for productivity tips to help get through the day with all of THIS—gesticulates wildly—happening. Working and living like everything is normal right now is challenging, but feeling good about your productivity can be helpful for anyone—including people with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood episodes that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). (There are various forms of bipolar disorder, which are identified by the mix of mood episodes you experience.) As you would expect, mood episodes can seriously interfere with your concentration, energy levels, and quality of life. Doing your best to prioritize your health and maintain a stable mood are some of the best ways to take care of yourself right now.

And many of the strategies that help you achieve this can also make you feel more in control and productive. While the tips below are not substitutes for seeking mental health care, they can help you feel good about what you’re accomplishing each day and be a little kinder to yourself.

Try your best to follow a routine

“Imposing stability and structure helps people with bipolar disorder to stay well,” David Bond, M.D., Ph.D., a psychiatrist with the University of Minnesota Medical School and M Health Fairview, tells SELF. At a baseline, maintaining a consistent routine that includes work, sleep, exercise, meals, and hobbies can help you with mood management. For instance, maintaining a set sleep pattern to the best of your ability is really important for keeping your mood stable, according to the University of Michigan Medical School. But being intentional about your routine can be helpful for productivity as well.

Having a set routine minimizes the number of potentially anxiety-inducing decisions you need to make. You may find it easier to get things done when you have a clear plan and spend less time worrying or procrastinating about what to do next. (Both of these benefits can apply to people with and without bipolar disorder.)

If you work, identifying your ideal schedule in that realm is a good place to start. “That can look very different depending on what circumstances you’re in,” Dr. Bond says. For example, parents who work remotely and supervise their kids in distance learning programs may want to work on challenging projects during times of the day when their children need less help with school. Once you figure out what works for you, try to stick with it. (This can of course be so much easier said than done right now—the point is not perfection, just trying to figure out what’s actually doable and helpful for you routine-wise.)

Thinking through all of this can feel like a lot of work initially, but it can offer you a sense of control over your life and day at a time when so many things feel out of your control. Show More