Increasing Productivity In Quarantine 

I’m one of those people who feels like they constantly have to be doing something and – despite the entire world shutting down – this quarantine is no exception for me. Yes, for the first week or so I relished in the extended spring break after a grueling first half of the semester but the relaxation quickly turned into underlying anxiety. 

I felt like I was slacking off like I wasn’t doing enough because I was sitting at home alternating between binging Tiger King and scrolling on Tik Tok. In part, this feeling wasn’t totally wrong, there are definitely better uses of my time than Tik Tok – I do not, however, regret watching the cultural phenomenon that is Tiger King and the rivalry between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin – but, with everyone stuck at home I had no reason to feel like I was alone in not completing tasks. 

The current state of the world is entirely out of our individual control, so we shouldn’t feel pressured to do anything extraordinary or even continue on with the hustle culture we were previously raveled in. However, working on a project or being productive could be what helps get us out of that anxious rut. 

Make Your Bed and Leave It 

Yes, you’re going to have to leave your bed for this and that’s the point. Even if you claim to be someone who can work from your bed, you shouldn’t. Aside from the impracticality of studying in bed with the limited space and uneven surface, your bed is a place designed for sleeping, not working. 

Whether you realize it or not your brain creates associations between spaces and actions. So, if you study in bed, your brain will associate it with thinking, therefore studying in bed can actually jeopardize how you sleep at night. Even when you decide it’s time to turn in for the night, your brain will continue to think since that’s what it’s been doing in that space all day. 

Start your morning off by completing your first task and make your bed. Then, leave it for the time you plan to be productive and go do your work in a new area. This will resolve any potential for your brain creating the wrong association with work and your bed. 

Clear Space, Clear Head

Designating and creating a workspace has proven to boost productivity and create a more conducive work environment. By keeping your space clean, you can eliminate distractions or clutter that may make you feel overwhelmed. Having a messy desk can make you feel unorganized both literally and figuratively, which can damage productivity. Before you get to work at your desk or work area, take five-minutes to organize any loose papers or supplies that could make you feel scattered.  

Making your space a comfortable one is equally as important as limiting distractions. Your desk should be somewhere you want to spend time at. Consider decorating it or bringing in some comfortable elements like a blanket while you work. Whatever helps you make this space your own and somewhere you want to be will help you in the long run. 

Make a Realistic To-Do List 

While a lot of us may not necessarily have traditional “work” during this time, there’s usually something to do. Whether it’s schoolwork or a passion project you’ve been putting off, take the time to make a list of tasks that you want to spend time on today. 

However, while it can help provide us with a sense of purpose, creating an overly ambitious to-do list may do more harm than good. I try to create a to-do list each day that will allow me to feel productive and like I’ve done something, while also being realistic for the time we are in. 

When I create my plan for the day, I also keep how I’m feeling at the forefront of my mind. It’s an overwhelming time for everyone and I realize that I am not immune to the anxieties that come up because of it. Assigning yourself things to do can be a welcome distraction and provide a sense of normalcy but give yourself some grace. This is a stressful time and though we are longing for things to do, we should also appreciate the break we are getting from the pressures of hustle culture we were raveled before the quarantine. 

The Art of Time-Blocking 

Time-blocking is a method of time management that essentially requires you to break up your day into batches of time where you will focus on a designated task. It is designed around the fact that being reactive to small tasks throughout the day is a waste of time. Why send out emails sporadically throughout the day, derailing from whatever task you’re working on when you can set aside an hour to go through your inbox and clear messages? 

The idea is that you cannot move onto a new task without completing the one you scheduled first, optimizing your time by giving yourself a deadline and schedule to follow. It also relies on your ability to prioritize tasks and get small ones out of the way first, so you can focus on the larger tasks at hand. 

Professional and business websites swear by time-blocking and even provide you with guides on how to start managing your schedule. In a time where every day feels like a weekend, time-blocking can help get you back into a routine and establish productivity.    

Whether or not you are a student or working professional, now is the time to take a step back and prioritize what you want to work on. This is a rare moment where the world is being forced to pause – take advantage of that and start doing things for yourself.