Pandemics aren’t a productivity contest
If you’ve set goals for this time spent at home and haven’t gotten around to starting them, it’s okay. Or you haven’t worked out 5 times a week like you wanted to, it’s okay. Perhaps you’re sad and want to spend the day watching Netflix, it’s okay. If you haven’t made the banana bread (that every person on Instagram seems to be making), it’s okay.
The list can go on but the point is that in times like these, we all cope differently. COVID-19 and this pandemic is not like anything any of us has ever experienced before. What helped us cope with hard times before, may not work now.
Now that we’re on our phones a lot more than usual, it’s hard to get away from being bombarded with people sharing productive posts on social media and people posting things they’ve done or receiving emails asking you to join an online workout program.
There is a productivity hype happening all around us. More and more, people are using social media to document what home project they’ve finished, what they’ve cooked or a new skill they have learnt; and sometimes we can’t help but feel guilty that we may not be spending our time as productively as others. But we should take in the bigger picture and look at what is really happening during this time – we are in a pandemic.
This is a very uncertain time
Most of the time when we deal with scary situations we have to firstly accept the facts and accept what is happening – that it’s a global pandemic, people are getting seriously sick, people are losing their loved ones and their jobs.
We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves for not doing that workout or not cleaning out that spare room, when the big picture is that this is a scary time. We shouldn’t be beating ourselves up for not being productive because at the end of the day, no one else is asking us to do these things.
If you think about it, there’s no apocalyptic movie where you will see people trying to renovate their bedroom or start their own brand. People are just trying to survive.
Instead, it’s a time when we should really be listening to our bodies, our mental health and how we are feeling emotionally. Focus on what you are doing and how you’re feeling, rather than what others may be doing. Think about the information you are consuming online: what are you reading? What are you watching? Who are you watching? How does it make you feel?
Productivity works for some but not others
You may be someone that is regularly productive, a high achiever, you like to set goals, you have agendas and you thrive in a routine, but then the pandemic gets thrown into our lives and productivity may no longer work for you.
You don’t have to come out of this period with a ton of different achievements of everything you have done during lockdown. It’s not like we’re going to receive a trophy for every skill we’ve picked up during isolation. We should understand that that’s not the point of the lockdown, the point of the lock down and social distancing is to keep ourselves safe and save lives.
Most of us are working from home, so our lives haven’t stopped. Our personal life, our domestic life and our work life are still operating. Sure, there are those that may choose to use this time in isolation to cope by self-improving, being productive, keeping busy or being creative. Although that might be good for some, it is not an indication that they are worth more.
Remember that we all live different lives and different reasons for doing things. Some people may be cooking more because they want to show off, some may be doing it because they genuinely enjoy it, and others may cook more because it’s a cheaper alternative to them instead of having take out. Therefore it would be unfair to compare yourself with them if you may not have the time to cook or maybe cooking just isn’t your forte.
Don’t feel like you have to do something because you’ll be wasting your time if you don’t. If you want to finish off that Netflix series because you finally have the time to sit down and watch it, do it. If you want to exercise, do it because you want to take care of your health and not because you see others doing it.
Start by setting small and realistic goals
Setting realistic goals and expectations for yourself may be the first step into helping you feel that you are not ‘wasting time’. Small and simple tasks during a pandemic could be cleaning the small things around the house or checking up on friends. Although it may be hard, try not to compare yourself with others.
What to do now?
The pandemic productivity pressure is real. There is no right or wrong way to spend your time at home, as long as we are socially distancing and ensuring we are doing what we can to keep ourselves and the people around us safe.
During COVID-19, do what it is that you need to do to get through this. Whether that is being creative or productive, there are some of us that may just struggle a bit with this. But don’t feel as though you are wasting your time for not doing certain things. This time has been given by the government, by law, to keep people safe.
Remember to be kind to yourself and do what you want to do. Sometimes it’s just the baby steps we need to take.
If you’re interested in learning how to nurture your wellbeing during this time, you can watch one of our WFH Wellness Series webinars.