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Why it’s okay to not be productive during the COVID-19 pandemic

It can feel like everyone is being very productive, making you feel like you aren’t doing enough.


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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You may feel like everyone around you is using their free time during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic to learn new skills, get fit or re-organise their rooms. This may leave us worrying if we should be doing the same or why we don’t feel up to doing this. It’s important to remember that there are no rules on being productive right now. It’s about getting through it in the best way we can.

Why is it so hard to focus?

You may be wondering why you are finding it difficult to stay motivated or are avoiding completing tasks you have to do or would like to do. Feeling anxious, due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, may be causing you to procrastinate. When we feel anxious it can make it more difficult for us to complete what we might consider basic tasks. Although, the more you procrastinate, the worse you might feel about the fact that you're procrastinating, and the greater your anxiety might become. Here are some tips which may help you manage and understand your procrastination.

Feeling the need to be productive

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are feeling under pressure to be productive with your newfound ‘free time’.

Do what you can

Remind yourself that doing what you can on any given day is enough. Some days this may mean getting out for a walk or trying out a new recipe, other days it might mean simply making your bed in the morning or going to sleep at a reasonable time. You don’t need to strive to do something new or innovative everyday. Take each day as it comes and be okay with doing nothing when you need to. Our volunteer Caoimhe talks about being proud of whatever you manage to do each day.

Have compassion for yourself

We can sometimes set high expectations for ourselves when it comes to being productive, especially when we may feel like we have more time at the moment. Remember there are no rules on how much we should be doing during a global pandemic. Accept that you are doing your best and try to practice self compassion. Being compassionate towards ourselves can have loads of benefits such as improved wellbeing and optimism.

Look after your wellbeing

If worrying about being productive is causing you stress, it’s important to make sure you are looking after your wellbeing. It might be helpful to create a list of simple self-care tasks for you to use while you are at home or you could create a self soothe box explained by our volunteer Isabel.

Focus on the present

We are in a situation that none of us could have prepared for. In times of uncertainty we can sometimes feel anxious or worry about the future. This can make it difficult to focus on the present moment and what we are doing each day. It can also get in the way of us doing something that we would like to get done right now as we find it difficult to focus on the ‘right now’. Mindfulness is a really useful technique to help us stay in the present moment. Here are some tips for practising mindfulness during the current pandemic.

Make a ‘do list’ of small, manageable goals

If you are struggling with the feeling that you are not being as productive as you would like, it might help to create a short list of manageable, daily or weekly tasks. These can be tasks that you already do everyday, or regularly such as taking a shower, making breakfast or checking in on a friend. Creating a list and ticking things off as you do them may help with the feeling of being productive as you will realise that you are managing some tasks each day even though you may not have realised it before.

Talk to someone

Talking to friends or family members can really help. In many cases they may be feeling very similarly to you. All of our lives have changed which can make it difficult to adapt to a new lifestyle or routine. We may not realise this as we are only seeing the times when people are being productive online and not as much about the times when people are struggling to stay motivated. Acknowledging this and knowing that others are in a similar position to us can be helpful.

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious around the current pandemic, or need someone to talk to?

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Published April 23rd2020
Last updated August 4th2020
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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