The latest buzz word for lockdown or as I call it, Hometime. Productivity. ‘If you’re not using this time to do all the things you always said you don’t have time to do, you never wanted to do them in the first place’. Every other post on my Instagram timeline, not to mention all the WhatsApp forward messages…motivational, inspirational, how to live your best life images, videos and quotes being shoved down my throat wherever I turn. Sorry. No. I’m just not buying into this.
I do fully acknowledge and understand that everyone handles situations in their own way. We all have different coping mechanisms based on our different experiences and learned strategies so far in life. It is also definitely not a negative thing to take advantage of this time to achieve a goal or take up a new hobby.
The individual psychological impact of what we are collectively going through right now cannot be pushed aside in the name of productivity.
However, let’s be frank about this. We are in a crisis. The individual psychological impact of what we are collectively going through right now cannot be pushed aside in the name of productivity. Working from home this is not. Being at home during a crisis and trying to work is what it is. Working or not, creating unrealistic expectations or applying internal pressure for not being productive enough, achieving enough, doing enough right now is not synonymous with looking after our mental and psychological health which is really where our priorities should be right?
I actually don’t even think it’s so much about being productive or not. I think it’s more about what we make that mean. Must I take a Duolingo class and brush up on my German, or bake an organic, gluten sugar free banana and carrot loaf in order to be productive? Could I not have been productive if I watched Netflix all day? I think the answer is all of the above may or may not be productive depending on our mindset.
All our lives, we are made to believe that we have to be doing something in order to be successful. We have to win. We have to achieve. We must be productive. Have something to show for it. My morning today went something like this. Woke up (prematurely may I add due to one of my neighbours having a very loud telephone conversation under my window), meditated. It was eldest daughters turn to choose a suitable YouTube for us, and I was today years old when I found out that low and behold, a Harry Potter meditation does indeed exist, so we spent 15 mins in Petronus white light gliding through a magical forest. I exercised while they had breakfast, had a shower then a coffee, told my daughter off for not washing dishes properly, went outside with all 3 kids to shoot some hoops, made lunch, ate lunch and washed dishes. I then spoke to my mum and sister this afternoon on FaceTime. They are thousands of miles away. I’m really feeling the distance at the moment. I sat on the phone for 45 mins, staring at a screen when I could have been doing something more ‘productive’ with my time. But hold on – I connected with two people I love dearly who are very far away from me right now. That FaceTime call was one of the most productive parts of my day.
Let’s make the distinction between being busy and being productive. They are not the same thing.
It’s really not so much about what we do, it’s about how we do them. Do I need to fill a void or can I just be? Where are my triggers and what am I experiencing right now? What do I need to heal within myself? Being intentional is the difference. Intentional with our words and actions but even more importantly, intentional with our thoughts. Catching those negative ones and flipping them. Knowing what we prioritise in life and putting them into action. If those priorities look like self care by resting on the sofa, then don’t ever feel like that’s not productive. Let’s make the distinction between being busy and being productive. They are not the same thing.
The low level anxiety that we are all experiencing right now is very real. It might be unconscious a lot of the time and only come into consciousness when something ‘happens’ but it is there. It can manifest in so many different ways; low mood, irritability, frustration, finding it hard to focus and concentrate, sleeplessness, over sleeping and many more. Pushing away our feelings does not make them go away. And right now, with that day to day busy life having been snatched from under us, feelings that may have been pushed aside suddenly find the space to resurface.
Whilst keeping busy may well prevent facing feelings, its in the acknowledgment of our feelings where we can then let them go. Feelings don’t need judgement. They are what they are. They need to just be. Let them come. Let them go.
For me personally, I want this period to mean feeling even closer to my family and friends, with good health and living in a positive household for me and my children. I am content with who I am and I am committed to being truthful about myself flaws and all. Through the times of calm and the moments of chaos. The happiness and the anxiety. The joy and the stress. The laughter and the worries. Those are my priorities. Being whole. So that’s what I focus on in the here and now. And that’s how I’m productive.