Why it’s okay to not be productive right now

Pandemic or not, your self worth is not proportional to your productivity

Like me, if social media has become your only out to boredom, you may have noticed conversations about the notions of ‘productivity’ rocketing. Whether it is your twitter mate updating you with their daily baking sessions or an Instagram friend showing off the pages and pages of work that they finished, or your family groups bombarding you with motivational posts about how to spend your free time, if you have any. There’s so much pressure right now to make the most of this ‘free’ time. It’s exhausting to even try to keep up. The rhetoric around productivity is so romanticised, glamorised and even glorified. However, every time I come across a reminder to be productive, I find myself thinking whether is it really a practical thing or can being productive everyday be a damaging to oneself?

As a university student doing her under graduation, the increase of workload, since the onset of Coronavirus in India, hasn’t gone unnoticed- being given a task after task, a deadline after deadline took a toll on all students. At the start of lockdown, I had internals, I was constantly pulling all nighters revising for the tests, completing assignments and keeping up with the daily workload of the online lessons. In this sense, it felt like nothing even while being locked up in our homes. There was always something that had to be submitted, something that needed to be revised or something that I needed to start working on. I was trying, as was everyone, but oftentimes, it felt like all the efforts amounted to nothing in the end. The workload didn’t end with the end of the semester, having to take-up internships in the middle of a pandemic caused immeasurable pressure and paranoia. My work plans are disrupted by distractions, I find myself unknowingly overextending and the balance between work & free time has become invisible. Not to mention the stress is unavoidable, and I constantly find myself waking up wishing for the day to end.

Is there anything that can be done?

Last year, if someone told us that we would be trapped inside our homes in a state of quarantine due to a deadly pandemic, we would have laughed it off. So, at the time our worst and unimaginable fears are coming true, being plunged into uncertainty does not mean that we have to function effectively alongside it. And therefore, being productive is no longer as important as it was before.

It is of utmost importance to acknowledge that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to use this situation to hone their skills, try new hobbies, explore new passions or build something unforgettable. In the midst of rapid unemployment, losing your loved ones, anxiety caused by separation from friends and family, isolation and loneliness, bad mental health is inevitable- and that’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay needing to take time off. It’s okay to listen to your body. Don’t be mad at yourself for not being able to deal with the situation as efficiently as your friend or your parent or your Instagram mutual. Getting out of the bed at a reasonable time is a task enough. Not putting off taking care of yourself and your needs is a task enough. Keeping up with your friends and checking up on them is a task enough. Spending time with your family is a task enough. Doing these tasks is no where near the perfect productive day I imagined – and it won’t be for a long while. I was meant to be getting excited about interning opportunities and travelling more and capturing more. Now when everything has gone south, the task of prioritising yourself is a rebellious act.

How can we change this mindset?

If you’re anything like me, university and work mean that I can not entirely ignore all my responsibilities in favour of self-care. Prioritising what you have to do is a good start to make sure you can do what needs to be done. Practice different methods or working. For me, sitting at my desk for more than 7 hours, staring at the laptop screen is quite overwhelming, mentally exhausting and doesn’t leave me feeling fulfilled. Taking breaks to perhaps watch an episode from a show that I’m currently hooked to or to mindlessly scroll on twitter ensures that I feel the balance.

This unsettling environment can be taxing. Forgive yourself for making mistakes.

Author: Tanvi Kapoor

nineteen year old media and sociology student who wants for the revolution while actively participating in it.

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