Pandemic Productivity is Not a Priority

How do we adapt to a time without intution?


Eshika Talukder

My mother and I take this time to support each other through the ever-changing circumstances and ever-persevering stressors We spent Mother’s Day in quarantine by giving each other makeovers.

There’s a buzz from your phone, rested on overdue paperwork. It’s on the desk next to the spring cleaning attempt that seemed like a great, productive idea just last night. Or was it last night? Time seems to move differently now. You eat when you feel hungry or just bored, you work when you feel guilty, you sleep when there’s nothing, or maybe too much, left in the day to do. How many days was that?

What might the buzz be from? Is it a news notification with a statistic greater than the last? It seems that the numbers change each time that you blink, but they always seem to lurk around the corner threateningly, yet never quite reach you. It’s only the city next to yours that’s suffering the worst of it, or only the older age demographic that’s losing the battles. The panic is again temporarily alleviated. Yet the buzz suggests that you are still not safe. 

What about the other news that is barely making the headlines? The presidential election is in a few months. Before this crisis, you were so invested. Those buzzes were dedicated. One person drops out, then two — duck, duck, then goose. Oh, how you long to play that waiting game again — but it’s no longer a buzz, a pastime, a conversation topic, a debilitating issue, anymore. What might it be? 

Is it a message from a friend who has just been racially targeted because of the pandemic? You recall the headline that attacks on Asian Americans have skyrocketed to hundreds a day, and that of the President of the United States calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.” What would you say to them? 

Or is it a phone call from a family member, worried about paying rent or putting food on the table? Or might they be worried about their family’s designated essential workers? Or perhaps this time, they’re mourning over the loss of another loved one. How would you answer that call? 

 No one is prepared for that conversation. 

We are amidst a global Coronavirus pandemic, an outbreak that has forced the world (minus its essential workers, of course) to shelter-in and readjust their entire lifestyles, political and economic focuses, and priorities. Consequently, we are constantly bombarded with ever-changing circumstances and unfortunate news. It’s no surprise that this is emotionally and physically exhausting, especially considering that no one was, or should have been prepared for this. There’s no ‘how-to manual’ on coping with the situation that we are in right now; we are all first-timers, and the expectations should adjust accordingly. 

Everything has changed dramatically in a short period of time. It’s a lot to handle, and your body, habits, relationships, and lifestyle are all learning to adjust to this new routine. Your mind is filtering through information about the pandemic to learn about the impact, but also to protect yourself. Your body is coping with the change in diet and lifestyle. It’s okay if your body or habits or relationships change during a time like this. As gentle as you have been to other people, now is the time to be that way for yourself; you wouldn’t say, “you should be able to do x, you’re a failure for feeling y, you have all the time in the world now for z,” to someone else. This is the time to give yourself the same compassion. 

You are only unproductive by the standards of the world that we lived in two months ago, and that world is gone now.  This is unlearning the social construct that your worth is based on your productivity; you don’t need to be constantly doing something. 

“This pandemic isn’t here to test your character, strength, or stamina. You don’t need to use this time for anything amazing. It’s a tragedy and a traumatic time for everyone; people will cope differently, and everyone is in different situations,” said Milly Bhaskara, a body-positive Instagram influencer and mental health advocate, in a post. “Get through the day and survive however you need to. The world needs you after this whole thing is over.”

“The world needs you after this whole thing is over,” said Milly Bhaskara, a body-positive Instagram influencer and mental health advocate.