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You’re Allowed to Not be Productive Right Now

by Lindsay Grisebach
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During this global pandemic, many articles and social media posts are being shared widely across the internet saying things like:

“You’re stuck at home anyways, now is the time to reinvent yourself! Write that book! Get in the best shape of your life! Learn to knit! You’ll never have this much free time again!”

This type of thinking can be dangerous and filled with thinly-veiled judgement. Yes, some people are taking this time to knock things off their to-do lists and are loving their free time at home. But others, those who have struggled with their mental health for years, or even those who are just discovering these struggles now, are wracked with guilt over how they “should” be spending this time. For them, this may be one of the most difficult times of their lives.

So, some counter-articles are also circling with many good points about why you don’t have to be productive right now.
Here are some things to consider when you may be giving yourself a hard time:

1) Even though you have more free time, you don’t have more free headspace – We are all being bombarded with news right now, from local number of COVID-19 cases to how different countries are coping across the world. We’re worrying about friends and family members and trying to juggle work and school and a lifestyle we have never been in before. This isn’t a summer holiday. Many things are going on behind the scenes in society and in your mind, so you don’t have to treat this as a relaxing vacation. It’s not.

2) Some people thrive under stress and others don’t – Doing your best is a relative term. Your best isn’t the same as your coworker’s best or your child’s best. Your best when all is right with the world isn’t the same as your best during a global pandemic. Whatever you are doing to get through the days and weeks is your best right now, and that’s all you can ask for.

3) YOU get to decided what is an accomplishment for you right now – We are all adjusting to an entirely different lifestyle almost overnight. It takes time to get used to, and it’s not a linear process. Some days will be worse than others. One day your biggest accomplishment might be running a 5K, and the next day it might be that you got out of bed and put clothes on. Take things one day at a time and see where you are.


4) Take Baby Steps to Help Yourself – Setting small goals (without a harsh expectation that you will complete them) for yourself may help you feel a sense of accomplishment. Several Universities are even putting out free courses during this time, like this one starting this week from the University of Toronto called Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19. Use this as a time to explore interests, and if you don’t like something or don’t end up doing it, be gentle and tell yourself that that’s ok.

For further reading on “Productivity During the Pandemic” check out these resources:

The pressure to be productive during the coronavirus pandemic – CityNews Toronto
Please Don't Be Guilted Into Being More Productive During The Coronavirus – Huffington Post