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Image / Editorial

The myth of productivity during a global pandemic


by Erin Lindsay
01st Apr 2020

If you’re feeling guilty for not making the most of your time in quarantine, try to keep in mind that…you’re literally in quarantine


If you feel lost in a sea of banana breads and home workouts, fear not. We are all internally feeling the pressure of productivity during this very strange time. Everywhere you look, the world is urging you to use this ridiculously anxiety-inducing time to become your best and most productive self. If you are actually able to do this, I applaud you. But if, more likely, you are trying to do this and failing miserably and feeling guilty on top of all the other mad emotions you’re feeling, you are not alone.

As a childless 20-something whose job allows her to work from home, I have it fairly easy during this pandemic. I pretty much just have to worry about looking after myself but even at that, this whole situation is still a nightmare. I have just about enough energy to get through the working day, exercise a bit and cook dinner before collapsing into an inexplicably exhausted puddle on the couch for the evening.

Although I’ve been getting more rest and sleep than ever before, I still find the day-to-day trudge of living through a pandemic extremely mentally tiring. I’m not able to see my family, to whom I’m very close to, or my friends; I can’t go out and distract myself with the cinema or a coffee shop or retail therapy. It is very tough. I can’t imagine how I’d fare if I had kids to entertain/educate, or older or infirm relatives to look after as well. If I was a healthcare worker, well, I can’t imagine how I would get through the day without at least one small breakdown.

Those who have a full household of people to accommodate, as well as their own day-to-day work to complete, as well as cooking, cleaning and sleeping, must be finding this time absolutely horrendous. The last thing they, or really any of us, need is a load of people on the internet telling them they should use that spare hour to complete a Linkedin Learning course rather than resting and allowing their fried brain to regroup.

Business as usual

Going through a global pandemic is not exactly business-as-usual. As much as the productivity-obsessed world around you (let alone your employer) would have you believe it’s natural to knuckle down and work, it’s actually completely natural for your brain to do the opposite.

Going through such an intensely anxious time, where there is no respite from the situation no matter where you look, is bound to have a significant effect on your brain. It will cause you to slow down, to take longer to do things, to find it harder to be as productive as you were before. This is okay.

It is okay to feel absolutely overwhelmed, and not be up for doing anything more than the minimum needed to get through the day. If all you did this morning was get up, have a shower and feed yourself, that is grand – actually, it’s very impressive, and it’s more than others are able to do. Do not feel guilty if you aren’t ‘using’ this time to its full potential. Guilt is a useless way to spend this pandemic – spend it resting instead.


Read moreI want to relax in my self-isolating bubble: Stop telling me to write the next King Lear

Read moreGrocery workers are putting themselves at risk for us. It’s time we thanked them

Read moreHow understanding the 5 stages of grief can help you through the coronavirus outbreak

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