Productivity Guilt

Recently, I saw a quote on Facebook from a fitness expert that really rubbed me the wrong way. Clearly trying to take advantage of the extra time that people have during this quarantine, they said something along the lines of, “if you don’t come out of this with a new skill or knowledge gained, then you never lacked the time, you just lack determination.” Although yes, this person is just trying to market their services during a time when people may be more likely to use them (and who knows, maybe she is struggling financially like many right now), I personally think that guilting people into being more productive during a time of crisis is rather tonedeaf, and I’m sick of seeing people saying things like this.

Honestly, having some extra freetime during this quarantine has been nice. I have been able to catch up on books and TV shows that have been on my list for a long time, I have more time for exercise and self care, and I can be at home spending some much needed time with my family. While all of this has been calming, I have still definitely felt the pressure to be extra productive and to try to use this time to get ahead, and I know many people are feeling the same pressure. It seems that productivity is so ingrained in our culture, that even in the middle of a pandemic, we feel like we have to make the most of every ounce of free time that we have.

a person is seen sitting at a table, from the neck down. they are typing on a laptop and have a mug with tea and a highlighted book open next to them Startup Stock Photos | Pexels

While I think that efforts for people to “make the most of their quarantine” are good-natured, I think a lot of times they do little more than stress people out. The reality is that even if you are healthy and in a safe, comfortable living environment, all of us are very scared and are hurting mentally. The uncertainty of how long this situation will last, the pressure of unemployment that many people are facing, and the threat of a serious physical illness are causing people a lot of anxiety. A lot of people, myself included, are suffering mentally right now, and it’s hard to think about taking on extra projects or commitments on the side.

So, instead of feeling the crushing weight of productivity guilty right now, I urge everyone to just try their best to get through each day. Make your physical health a priority by sleeping and eating well, and doing some sort of exercise when you can. Limit your time on social media and do things that make you feel happy and centered. Check in on your friends and family, and take comfort in knowing that the uncertainty and anxiety of the present situation is, in a strange way, uniting everyone right now.

If you have the energy and motivation leftover to use this time productively, then that’s great! Use the extra time to your advantage and maybe take care of to-do’s that you’ve been putting off for a long time. But the reality for many of us is that just getting through the day might have to be enough for now. And in times like this, that is more than enough, and you don’t have to add extra pressure on yourself right now.