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  • Wed, 25, Mar, 2020 - 5:00:AM

It’s okay to not be productive right now

I don’t know about you but for me, one hour’s worth of work is starting to feel like eight.

Turns out living through a pandemic is bloody exhausting.

It’s exhausting on several levels. My grief and empathy are being exhausted by the rising global death-toll. My eyes are being exhausted by remaining glued to my devices. My anxiety is being exhausted by *waves arms frantically*.

We’re worrying about our incomes. We’re worrying about our health. We’re worrying about our elderly friends and relatives. We’re worrying about the citizens of Italy, Iran, The USA, Spain and so on.

I’ve even taken to worrying about the nation’s First Daughter, Neve. I hope she’ll be able to see her mum soon.

So it turns out anxiety is super, super draining. The notion that we’re supposed to finally learn guitar, write that novel, pick up that language or read Wuthering Heights in among all this is truly wild.

Which is not to say you SHOULDN’T do any of that – you absolutely should if you absolutely want to. In many ways, for many people, a productive distraction will be just what the doctor ordered. But there shouldn’t be any PRESSURE to do any of that, especially for those of us who feel paralyzed by stress.

We live in a world that places an extraordinarily high value on productivity. If you’re not out there doing something – if you’re neither contributing to the world nor bettering yourself personally – then what are you bloody well doing? And so another layer of worry is added: am I using this time wisely?

But if we keep thinking that way, we’ll suffer a nationwide nervous breakdown. Here are some things you can do instead.

Go for a walk without devices

Willpower is not enough. If I want to stop checking on updates, I need to physically get away from my devices right now. Given that we are still allowed to go for isolated walks around the block, I highly recommend taking that freedom. Feel the wind on your skin. Let your arms swing back and forth. Just move. And keep moving. And if you run into anyone, give them a smile and cross the street.

Lie on the grass

I’m serious. We’re lucky in New Zealand to overflow with open spaces. If you have access to a back lawn or local park (especially if there’s no one around) I highly recommend taking a quick lie down. My head feels especially heavy right now, and laying it down on nature’s bed feels weirdly (or not so weirdly) natural. Feel the earth spin. Breathe.

Phone someone

Even just hearing another person say ‘this is pretty scary, isn’t it?’ is a massive comfort. And for singles in lockdown, it could be the best part of their day.

Put a note in your neighbour’s mailbox

Give them your phone number and a kind word. It’ll likely do as much good for your own mental health to write something kind as it does for theirs to receive it.

Most importantly: obey the guidelines. Keep yourself physically isolated, wash your hands, don’t touch your face. It feels like we’ve collectively lost control of our lives – but there’s a lot of control we still retain. We have the power to slow the spread. So, let’s do everything we can – and let's all take a collective breather.

For accurate information regarding COVID-19, please see here.


  • COVID-19 /
  • Coronavirus /
  • Work /
  • Productivity /
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