Why You Should Stop Trying to Be Productive During a Pandemic

girl working on laptop with cat on lap

Let’s be honest – the past month has been rough.

Adjusting to this new normal, while still trying to retain some semblance of a routine and productive lifestyle has been difficult for all of us.

While we can’t change what’s happening outside (anyone got a magic wand or a wish from a genie they’re willing to use?), perhaps we can change what’s happening on the inside.

LOL I know, that sentence gives off a slightly holier-than-thou kind of vibe. But I promise this isn’t one of those “Why You Should be More Grateful/Thankful/Happy” type of posts.

To be frank, its been hard to feel grateful/thankful/happy, and getting things done in a pandemic is has been quite hard.

So let’s have a real conversation – why is it so hard to get things done lately?

Productivity in a Pandemic

At this point, you’re all probably noticing that besides your anxiety levels, your mood and your appetite (before Ramadan, I was just snacking all day), your productivity levels have also taken a hit.

Back in the pre-pandemic days, I used to think “man, if I was able to work from home even one day a week, I could get so much done.”

Alas, pre-pandemic Sarah was so naïve. So innocent. She had no idea that soon, she’d have to work from home every day. And don’t get me wrong, that in itself is a huge blessing.

But what pre-pandemic Sarah didn’t realize, was that her productivity would also suffer during that time.

This combination of trying to work while also trying to navigate a new world with new rules – it’s stressful.

The worst part is that I want to be productive. Of course, I do. I want to get things done, even if I’m working from home. But I find myself getting distracted more easily and just feeling less motivated.

When I realize how much time I’ve wasted, I scramble to get everything done in a ridiculously short amount of time. Tasks I would normally enjoy, seem like a chore now.

I’ve tried different ways to be more productive (pomodoro timers, turning off my phone) but nothing seems to be working.

This week though, I realized something.

We’re literally living in global pandemic. People’s lives are at stake. I haven’t seen my family in weeks.

so OF COURSE, I’m not as productive as I was before.

Why You Should Stop Trying So Hard to be Productive

Look, we’re living in stressful times. I don’t have to tell you that. As much as we’re trying to make the best of our situation, none of this is normal.

Unfortunately, no matter how we’re feeling, life doesn’t stop.

We’re going to have to learn to adjust to our circumstances and make the best of this situation. And it does seem like some of us are more adept at doing so than others (I consider myself part of the latter category).

I feel like every other person around me is cooking fancy gourmet dinners, learning new skills, creating works of art, you name it. And it’s great that even in times of crisis, we can make the best out of a situation.

For many people, creating and being productive is the best coping mechanism.

But I think it’s important to acknowledge that not all of us are able to be creative and productive right now. It’s crucial that we recognize that yeah, this is a really tough time. And sometimes, you have to take it day by day.

So here’s my advice: stop trying to be productive. Stop putting the pressure on yourself to be more productive than you are right now, or as productive as you were before all of this started. Stop comparing yourself to other people.

You’re living a different life, and you’re a different you.

We can’t live by the same rules that we used to before. At least, not for a while. It will take time for our minds and bodies to adjust to the changes around us.

In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Give yourself the space to grow and learn. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as you try to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

5 Tips to Help You Be More Productive

Ok, hold up. Didn’t I just give you a long-winded explanation on why you should stop trying to be productive?

Well, yes, I did. But this wouldn’t be a WellNest Blog Post if I didn’t share some tips. So I’ve laid out some things you can try out to help your productivity – if you want.

The key message is : be more mindful of the things you are forcing yourself to to do things.

Slow down, take a deep breath, and take a step back. And when you’re ready, try these tips:

1. Have a designated workspace

I know, it’s tempting to be as comfortable as possible when you’re working. But try to find a corner in your home designated just for work. Whether you’re working, looking for jobs, or taking online classes, find a quiet space set aside just for that purpose. Also, try to avoid working in bed, as this can make falling asleep at night more difficult. When it’s time to take a break, move away from your workspace.

2. Make a list of things you want to get done

Sure, there are probably a million things you need to get done. But you probably don’t want to do all of them. Chances are, if you want to get something done, you’ll actually do it. Make a list of those things, and if there’s something you do need to accomplish urgently, add it to the list. By making a list, you’ll have it all laid out in front of you. Be flexible, and avoid putting harsh time constraints on yourself.

3. Take breaks and move around

Sitting at home all day is tough as it is – sitting at a desk, hunched over your computer can be tougher, especially on your body. Get up, take a break and move around. Walk to your kitchen to grab a snack (preferably something healthy, but I won’t say no to Oreos) or if you can, go for a walk outside or sit in the backyard. Give yourself enough time to refresh your mind before you have to get back to work.

4. Practice self-care

Self-care can mean different things for different people. Face masks, exercise, baking decadent treats, watching a cheesy movie – whatever it is, make time for yourself. Try to not work the entire day and set aside some wind-down time so you can just relax.

5. Be kind to yourself

This I find is one of the hardest ones. Life is pretty stressful right now, and the last thing you need is harsh self-criticisms. Give yourself space and be patient as you try to navigate each day, one day at a time. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may be.

It’s easy for us to be kind to others, but why is it so hard to be kind to ourselves?

Conclusion

To wrap it all up, it’s important to recognize that adjusting to our new “normal” is going to take time. This includes our productivity levels and how much we’re able to accomplish.

Making comparisons between what we used to before and what we’re doing now is tempting – but it’s not very helpful. Instead, take it one day at a time. Be patient with yourself, and be kind.

You may not become super productive overnight. Instead, it’ll take time. And that’s ok. Because as we’re all learning right now, slowing down is in our best interest.

What are some things you have done to adapt to working from home?

Leave a comment below or flip me an email, you know I would love to hear from you!

Until next time!

Sarah Ahmed electronic signature

Sarah Ahmed
Co-founder
WellNest Psychotherapy Services

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