It was perhaps only into the second week of the COVID-19 imposed lockdown that the reality of people staying at home for an exceptionally long time suddenly set in.
For someone like me, in the creative space and working from home for many years, it was not such an issue. But for others? For those finding new ways to work from home, or for those facing reduced working hours, lockdown has taken some getting used to. It has certainly raised some questions. Is a global pandemic the time to take a break? Or the perfect time to get busy and productive?
From my research, I learned that Shakespeare made use of being quarantined during the plague to write King Lear. The Bard supposedly took advantage of the Globe Theatre’s lengthy closure to get on top of his writing in-tray — coming up with Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra to boot.
The majority of us are not essential workers, so shouldn’t this be a time to be more productive? Shouldn’t you be honing current skills or learning something new? Or taking time out to create something meaningful?
Some have argued that being productive during this time is a way of telling our minds to ignore the facts. Others are of the opinion that you should not feel guilty if you are not productive — that stress and uncertainty are taking their toll.
As an individual who is privileged to still have a job (although with a pay cut), and close to others who have lost theirs, I am determined to get more productive. How else can I show my employer, who is currently getting up every day to slay the dragon (without taking a salary), how valuable I am?
At this moment and at this point in our lives it is the very time to be productive because you never know what’s around the corner. It is also keeping me sane.
My emotions have gone from grief, to fear and back to grief and fear repeatedly. We were in a world where we had a lot going on. Yes, we wanted to see shifts in terms of climate change, our economy, agricultural practices, and sustainable travel among other things, and boom COVID-19 came along and changed the way our world is forever — and we will never be able to go back. We are entering into a new world of ‘new normal’, and we do not have a choice than to live through it.
Then the question becomes how can anyone, I mean anyone, do any work that matters? How can anyone be scared, angry, sad, worried and productive at the same time?
I resolved after the second week of the lockdown to suck it up and put myself to work, to make sure I surpass any design I have created in the past, finish any project/brief I started on time — without any excuse whatsoever.
At a point, I felt a sense of unproductiveness. I felt like I could not finish my brand management course I started in March. The thought of my assignments and delivering customer-centric designs threw my mind into a state of worry.
All I wanted was to be there for my family, to be productive at work, complete my course with excellent grades and be there for the less-privileged around me.
I am glad I did not allow myself to drown in worry, pity and the feeling of how I am going to make it out of this. The desire to accept change, suck it up and understand that there are things beyond my control has left me with the resolve to ‘eat the frog’.*
At this point, my answer to whether you should be productive during this global shift will be to be kind to yourself, understand other people’s emotions, and to speak to close friends who can help you through your feelings.
Do whatever it takes to do the work that matters, but do not just sit by without doing anything. During this new normal, you will thank yourself for leaning-in to level up.
Take it step by step and accept the change.
#BeProductive #StayStrong #StaySafe
* Mark Twain famously said that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. Your ‘frog’ is your worst or most challenging task, and something you should tackle first thing in the morning.