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The Productivity Pressure Tank

Hi amigos, how are we all doing? Staying safe and sassy I hope.

This whole thing is such a minefield. I have no answers and there’s a total change of lifestyle, routine, independence etc. It’s a weird situation where I have so much time and scope and I’m trying to make something out of it – we all are, and in that sense it’s pretty opportunistic. But what I’m seeing a lot of is people being ridiculously productive which is amazing, but also when you break it down, it can quickly turn into a massive guilt trap.

Not only are we all adjusting to new circumstances that effect our jobs, degrees and day to day routine, there’s also a new wave of culture that comes out of a global crisis such as this. That culture is filled with a number of things, good and bad, from community to finger pointing. And as with any type of culture there are bits you gel with and bits you don’t. One thing I have really struggled with is adjusting to ‘making use’ of this time and using it as a productive opportunity.

I completely get it, it makes sense. More time + limited circumstances = opportunity. But there can be so much pressure to make use of this time, do something productive because “you have no excuse”. Yes, I have all the time now to do things I’ve wanted to and have been planning on doing. But that doesn’t mean I’m a failure if I don’t and it doesn’t mean that I value my time any less.* It means that I’m trying to space my uni work out so I have something to do. It means I’m focusing on uni right now and employing my summer for Matriarch and other personal projects. There is absolutely no shame in getting up after 10 am and none in having a lack of routine either. This time is yours and whatever you do with it doesn’t define your goals, your qualities or your abilities. It does feel like a productivity pressure tank.

*more importantly, it doesn’t mean that you are worth any less.

My idea of productivity…

And not having definite answers or having to plan indefinitely is frustrating. I for one am struggling. 5 weeks ago, when I was still at uni, every Sunday or Monday I would fill in my timetable for the week which was a literal, hour by hour plan. I blocked out my lectures (or lack of due to strikes), time when I was seeing friends – for context, in my last weekly plan I did at uni there were only 8 hours that I hadn’t blocked something in for that week. And now, it’s a very different story.

I don’t have places to be nor do I have people to see.

For me, that’s bloody hard. And as sad as my timetabling may have seemed to my friends (you’re all haters) it kept me going. Since quarantine and lock down I haven’t filled out a timetable. But that’s okay because I’m learning planning and routine in a new way. Instead of a list a mile long of what I have to do that day or where I have to be, on an average day I have around 5 goals that I like to check every day:

  1. Activity/exercise – of any kind

  2. Reading – at least 30 minutes a day (usually ends up being a lot more)

  3. University work – I still have coursework deadlines and 3 exams so there’s plenty to be doing

  4. Drinking water – this might seem like an odd one but having a lack of busyness has made me extremely diligent on water intake

  5. Calling family and friends

That’s it.

It’s a simple, almost tediously lack-lustre list. Or so that’s what I would have thought 5 weeks ago.

5 weeks ago, these 5 goals ranged from unimportant to non-existent. I did these things mindlessly and monotonously and often with not much care. Now they are literally the highlight of my day, they are the MOST important things and I’ve found a total out-pour of gratitude for them. Before all this, I called my family every day, it’s just something we do and I know for a fact that all 5 of us have had days where we just can’t be bothered or we don’t want to talk to each other. But now I can 100% speak for all of us when I say that our 7 pm call where the avengers assemble on face time is something I wouldn’t miss for the world and is a highlight of my day. Every day. For a ridiculously tight knit family that’s spread out in 3 locations and haven’t been together for over a month and a half, that’s not a surprise.

Finally getting back into exercise

In many ways, yes, this is a frustrating situation where our independence and norms have been stripped back, in most cases to the core. But I am so grateful in so many ways that it has because it seems to me, if I was too distracted by my every day norm to the extent that I couldn’t appreciate a call from my family, then I needed to be stripped back. These times are more evident than ever that we need to appreciate each other, extend a hand and a bit of love. I seem to have gone on a bit of tangent here from my original seed of thought but I’m not going to revise this post. This isn’t a time in which I’m questioning my feelings or thoughts too much, I’m just letting it flow really because if you try too hard to question and understand a time that’s inherently confusing you’re gonna have a tough time.

If by some amazing feet you’ve actually made it to the end of this post, well done and sorry for the muddle. I do want to reiterate though that whilst productivity is fantastic and can be a great motivation etc, productivity is what you define it as, as an individual. And if that’s just getting out of bed and eating something, your productivity and time is worth just as much anyone elses.

That really was a ramble. Stay safe and stay home amigos.


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