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The Pressures of Productivity in Isolation: You Are Not Defined by Your Productivity

It’s been more than a few months since quarantine and I’ve never seen so many people bake bread! It seems as though many more are taking part in the new wave of “ hobbies while in quarantine”. However, I want to discuss a different perspective that being in quarantine brings: being absolutely okay with your unproductivity. It’s actually quite surprising that I’m writing this statement because I, myself, have trouble just being idle. To be completely honest, I’m one of those individuals that tends to have the things I need to do in a day planned out. In fact, the thought of not doing anything productive bothers me because I feel as though I haven’t accomplished anything. But this whole quarantine has taught me that it’s acceptable to be unproductive. 

Look, I won’t sit here and write how industrial capitalism and “hustle culture” are the main culprits to our desires to be “productive”. It’s too tedious and I don’t particularly have the energy to dive into the intricacies of the evolutionary trends of work and industry (if you want to learn more, I suggest enrolling in a sociology class regarding this topic). Rather, I want to express how you shouldn’t feel pressured or guilted into being productive during isolation. 

We need to keep in mind that we are currently facing a pandemic. It’s okay to not use this time to write a book, or start a business from the comfort of your own home or be in the best shape of your life. You often see numerous articles and social media posts on “Tips to Stay Productive During Isolation”. There are also a number of Reddit threads that have surfaced on how to “stay on top” of the things that you need to do. Don’t hold yourself to extreme standards just because you tell yourself that you have “no more excuses since you’re practically home every hour of every day”. A fatal global health issue IS and SHOULD be an acceptable excuse to not be “on top” of things! 

Distinguish doing something ‘just cause’ from actually doing something because of true enjoyment. Ask yourself: Am I doing this because I actually have the desire to do it? Or am I doing this because it says so on the neverending to-do list of life? Because if you’re only taking on a task ‘cause you’ve been putting it aside for too long, then do you actually want to do that task?

Yes, there are those who will probably accomplish many things from working at home and adopt various new hobbies. I’m happy for those people, good for them! But know that not everyone can thrive under particular circumstances, AND IT’S OKAY! There are those who thrive in stressful situations and there are those who don’t. Everyone is different. 

So it’s okay to be bored and not have a detailed plan of what tomorrow will look like. The world is living in uncertainty. So, take it one day at a time. Make the most of the situation, whether that’d be sitting on your couch watching a ton of movies or discovering you actually do enjoy baking that sourdough. 

Now isn’t the time to expect maximum creative output from yourself. Choose how and who you want to spend your energy on. Find what comforts and calms you. Use this time to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Make yourself a priority, because you are valuable whether you’re productive or not. 




https://www.vox.com/culture/2020/4/17/21201878/quarantine-productivity-s… onavirus-pandemic-covid-19-capitalism-ep-thompson


Lyell Tibayan

U Alberta '21

Lyell is a fourth year Education student in the University of Alberta, with a Social Studies major and Health Studies minor. She enjoys reading, writing and anything associated with wellness (nutrition and physical activity).
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