On Productivity in a Crisis

Written by Josef Artiaga

Edited by Liv Licardo


As you start another day in quarantine, you check your phone to see a barrage of notifications from online classes. Your social media feed is full of people posting music covers, art, and hobbies they pursue while at home. An uncomfortable feeling takes over and you can’t help to think if you are being too lazy or unproductive.

Sounds familiar? 

I read a recent popular online post that says we should have developed new skills, created new projects, and honed their talents with the free time that we have. It also implicated that people who come out of this quarantine without any new developments have wasted their time. At first, I thought that it made sense but as I gave it more thought, I realized that not everyone has the privilege of using their time for personal development. Sure, some may have already finished reading a book or learning a new dance but it is not fair to expect all people to have achieved the same level of “productivity”. For some, being productive means to clean their room. For others, being productive is to finish the K-Drama they wanted to watch. Some may even take being productive as to get out of bed, and that’s okay.

Everyone experiences this crisis differently. Some may even not feel it as they are financially secure while others may need to fight every day to bring home to the table. Some still stay connected with their friends through video calls and chats while others are isolated because the signal in their place is weak. Some have their friends and family safe while some might have already lost a loved one to this pandemic. All of these experiences affect our well-being and how we live our lives right now.

Now, more than ever, it is important to remember that every person grows at their own pace. In this era of social media where every achievement and talent is shared with the world, it feels easy to think that our performance is inadequate. Most of us rely on validation from others to assure ourselves that we are doing enough. This kind of thinking pressures us to do more, to be more, and to have more. In the end, it becomes a competition among people to display what they’ve done to hide their insecurities.

Since we experience this pandemic differently, we also have different reactions to it. To cope with these reactions, we do different things to make ourselves feel better. Therefore, there is not only one right thing to do this quarantine. What’s important is to do things that either make good in our community or to make yourself cope with this quarantine better. A possible way of coping is trying to figure out how to do things that make you happy before quarantine.  If you don’t feel like doing stuff you typically do, try out things that you were unable to do so before. Better yet, try to be active in the community and help out our frontliners! 

The keyword in this article is try. If what you are doing ends up not working for you, then it’s a new experience that will help you get to know yourself better. It’s perfectly fine to slow things down a little in this quarantine and take some more time for you to rest, focus, and maybe learn about yourself a bit more. The thought of catching COVID-19 already takes a toll on your mental health so do activities that, even though it may not be what people consider as “productive”, will make you happy. You deserve it!

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