Productivity in the pandemic should not be the priority

Bethany Abrams

Last year when the country first began a national lockdown to mitigate the COVID-19 virus, some individuals took advantage of this time to learn something new or strengthen pre-existing skills. As we approach over a year living in the pandemic, we may still feel the need to continue to utilize our time in a productive way. The reality is, though, that the most important job in a pandemic is to survive and be safe.
Since we live in a capitalist society, there is a great emphasis placed on the idea of productivity and getting many things done in an efficient manner. It is typical for an individual to have a rigorous schedule where work or school is prioritized, even at the expense of basic necessities.
As a first-year college student, I fall into this spiral of working hard with little to no breaks and hoping that everything will eventually pay off in the future. As we have learned, if we want to be ‘successful’ with a high-paying career, we must work for it, even in the midst of a pandemic.
“This push for productivity has gotten even worse since the onset of the pandemic as people fret over how they’re ‘making the most’ of their newfound time at home,” said Hannah Hickok in a BBC article.
For some, this pressure regarding productivity during the pandemic has paid off and made them happier. For instance, one individual started an Etsy Shop during the pandemic, which was something she always wanted to do. “Learning and trying something new truly brings me joy and I felt like it was a good use of my quarantine time,” said Steph in a Zero to Biz blogpost. 
She continues to be an entrepreneur encouraging others to put their ideas into action. This is commendable in a pandemic, and she is not the only one who has channeled productivity and increased their happiness levels along the way.
For others, though, the pressure of being productive has turned work into something obligatory and draining. Carol Tompkins is an example of an individual who knew her overt desire to be productive was harming her.
“Tompkins is one of many redefining productivity as a result of the pandemic, finding that the old definition of non stop grinding hasn’t served their health, wellbeing or even success at work,” said Hickok. Rather than work outside of her hours, she finds time for herself and her family. In fact, she was even fortunate enough to reduce the number of hours she works.
I think it is important that we are lenient with ourselves regarding individual productivity. If we are succumbing to productivity pressures simply because we feel that we have to even if we do not want to, then it is time to take a step back.
Living in the pandemic we are dealing with a number of emotions, including a lot of fear as well as grief both inside and outside of our own families. News headlines each day for over a year have been related to COVID-19 in some way, and that can be exhausting. 
We have to prioritize our mental states and find ways that work for us to combat those negative emotions and COVID-19 fatigue. Thus, we cannot let these pressures of productivity weigh too heavily on us.
Taking time to recuperate while continuing to be as safe as possible is the best thing we can do at this moment. Rather than worrying about the next task on a to-do list, we should take a moment to breathe and realize we are doing our best to survive, and that is good enough.