This health emergency is truly unprecedented in its scope and impact. So yeah, it’s okay to be feeling a whole mixture of things right now: fear, anxiety, frustration, helplessness.
But if you’re one of the many thousands of people who are being forced to work from their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, one thing it’s not helpful to feel is that you’re not being “productive” enough.
No sooner were restrictive containment practices rolled out than ‘thought leaders’ and everyday social media users started sharing how they’d use the time at home to ‘finish writing that novel’, ‘do that outstanding DIY’, ‘work through my reading list’ and so on.
It’s exhausting just reading that.
If you truly want to use this time of lockdown to write your first novel, then be my guest. Paint your home from top to bottom now that you’ve got all that spare time. But don’t jump into a large project like that unless you really, really want to.
Let’s face it, you’ve probably got more on your mind. Concern for your friends and family. You’ve probably got the kids home from school. Maybe you’re worried about getting access to essential supplies. And the constant barrage of ‘Breaking News’ alerts on your smartphone probably isn’t helping, either.
I’d like to suggest that the next few weeks are less about ‘productivity’ and more about caring for those close to us, reducing our exposure to this virus, and engaging in the kind of self-care that will enable us to get back in the saddle some time in the future.
I know! I’ve been writing and speaking about productivity for years now, so this is a bit of a departure. But to me, ‘productivity’ was never about relentless activity and just doing more for the sake of it. It was doing the right things, in the right way, to free up time to focus on what really matters.
As I’ve set out on our ‘Working from Home’ page, start small: think about your schedule, the nuts and bolts of working from home, identify manageable priorities, stay in touch and look after your own wellbeing. When not working, take care of yourself and those around you.
I think many of us could do with hitting pause on the productivity treadmill and bring our focus and energy to bear on what really matters.
Right now, you don’t have to be productive. You just have to be.