The Myth of a Productive Pandemic

On 23 March, the UK went into lockdown to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. As a result, a large majority of people are forced to spend much more time at home either by themselves or with the immediate people they live with.

People have unfortunately lost their jobs, others have to work from home and some simply have much less work to do.

Unfortunately, this has lead to far too many articles on “how to be productive while you’re at home” or “How to start a business from home” articles.

Generally, it’s fine to want to be productive (whatever that even means…) but there is an unnecessary environment growing which pressures people to be productive simply because we’re now at home.

While time has been gained because we’ve lost our commute times (on average, we’ve gained back one hour), it doesn’t mean we can, or even need to, utilise that time “productively”.

There is a lot we do not know

Many of us have never had to live through a viral outbreak that shut down the world’s economy. We are learning more about ourselves and interactions with one another as lockdown’s around the world continue. It raises a number of questions:

Will the structure of the economy look the same after the pandemic?

What will the end of the pandemic look like?

Will remote working become more commonplace?

Will we learn anything?

Big questions that everyone will end up considering. It isn’t something we can ignore and “leave for the politicians and academics” because it directly impacts all of us.

Because of this, we will also figure out how we best adapt to long-term working from home. We are not simply “at home“. We are “forced to stay home during a pandemic“.

It’s an important distinction even though, right now, it often doesn’t feel like it exists in practice.

We are in unknown territory at the moment. Emotionally, socially, and physically.

If you feel pressured to be productive, remember, most of us won’t be. Especially at the beginning

And those who claim to be productive, will be far less productive than portrayed.

Prioritise family and self-care. Allow yourself to experiment with healthy coping mechanisms.

But do not get lulled into the idea that we need to boost our productivity by 1000% to be valuable.

Most importantly, wash your hands and stay indoors. Boring, but effective. 

2 thoughts on “The Myth of a Productive Pandemic

  1. I had some personal reflection on this lately. There’s the dream of how you imagine you will use your time, and then there’s the reality of how you end up using your time. For me, I actually got sick, and it took much longer to recover than I would have expected. The process of recovering was both frustrating and discouraging, every time I had a good day and thought I was all done being sick, it was followed by a very bad day. I had this fantasy of working out for 2 hours a day and getting tons of projects done, all while working from home as well. What I’ve realized is that I’m going to have good productive days and more restful days. I’m learning to value taking rest as being just as crucial to my long-term goals as the days where I’m productive. Letting myself fully rest more allows me to accumulate the energy and motivation I need for the days where I can be very productive. And sometimes spending the day staring out the window, letting yourself just think and process and understand where you’re at, is one of the most productive things you can do.

    1. Hi Karen, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      Your point about becoming sick is definitely potent because I felt the same when my pain became much worse. It certainly forces you to adopt the perspective of longevity and rest.

      You’re right – it’s fine to just sit and think. Or even not really think at all. Going for 100% intensity every day will lead to burn out and likely even quicker during these times.

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