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Productivity during a Pandemic?

I've already written my advice on working from home during this strange time, but something I've started to notice in the last week is a constant stream of posts online about being more productive. The tone of these posts frustrates me- they are smug and honestly condescending, as if the person is saying "look at everything I've done so far, and what have you done? Just watched Netflix?!"

At a time like this, it is easy to get caught up in the comparison trap. But please remember that each of us are different and our situations are very different. It has been said hundreds of times, but these are truly unprecedented times, and therefore there is no "right" way to respond. If cleaning or organising are helping you to cope, that's great. It is also fine if watching movies and sleeping longer are what keep you sane.

You are the only person who gets to decide how you survive this.

It seems that in our modern world, we are deemed more worthy if we are more productive. We wear busy-ness as a badge of honour. But, as far as I am concerned, productivity is not constant. We need to slow down sometimes, and is this not the perfect opportunity?

With that said, I equally am aware that many of us have to carry on working, caring, and maintaining our households. And I'm sure that lots of us feel that achieving something on our to-do list would make us feel good. So, how can we do that?

My first piece of advice is to hack it!

I've had a few conversations with people about all the things other people are doing, and they feel like they are doing nothing. I have those days regularly, and the best way I've found of overcoming that mindset is to make a list of all the things you DID do in the day, rather than keeping track of what you didn't get done. Often when we actually reflect we realise we did achieve some positive things. Remember to include the small things too- making the bed, having a shower, cooking dinner- these are important tasks too!

My next bit of advice is to break things down into the smallest possible tasks or only add small tasks to your to-do list.

If you are working from a list of tiny tasks that take less than 15 minutes, rather than staring down the barrel of a full weekend project, it is much easier to find the motivation to start!

This is how I approach every day- with a list of tiny tasks to complete. The list can look long, but I know that nothing will take longer than half an hour. Working this way is particularly helpful during stressful times, when we need a distraction but can't focus for too long/don't want to do anything.

By doing even a small task on the list, we overcome the negative, unmotivated mindset.

I know that seems obvious, but how many times have you had a "big" job to do and procrastinated doing it for days (or maybe even weeks)? By breaking it down and finding the motivation to do a small part, the rest will follow.

And, this isn't only helpful for bigger jobs, but just our general day to day living. By keeping a list of small tasks ready, we can tick off small bits and pieces throughout the day and keep ourselves motivated! I've put some ideas into a list below. These are short tasks that will make you feel more productive once complete, and are things you can do every day (i.e. if you are stuck at home with nothing to do, some of these things could be on your daily to-do list!).

Things you can do in less than 15 minutes (which will make you feel productive):

  1. Empty the dishwasher/wash dishes in the sink (and put them away).

  2. Clean the countertops, or kitchen table.

  3. Organise 1 drawer.

  4. Put on a load of laundry.

  5. Sweep or hoover 1 room (you could do a room/day!)

  6. Check emails and prioritise the ones that must be followed up.

  7. Complete a lesson on Duolingo.

  8. Read- the newspaper, a blog, your book.

  9. Stretch or do a short workout/yoga routine.

  10. Draw a picture.

  11. Write a card or letter to a friend/family member/neighbour.

  12. Make energy balls.

  13. Clean the door knobs or light switches.

  14. Go for a short walk.

  15. Plan dinners for the week.

  16. Write your shopping list.

  17. Set a timer and see how much you can organise/clean in a room (you could do 5mins in 3 rooms!).

  18. Write 3 things you are grateful for today.

  19. Complete a guided meditation.

  20. Make your bed.

Lots of these tasks are things I aim to do every day- they are so short that they are realistic to do daily, but when I reflect on my days I feel good that I completed them.

Take ideas from the list and add your own. Make it suit you!

Remember it is normal to have lazy days where you switch off fully from the to-do lists and all the madness of the world. This advice isn't to make you feel guilty for not doing more, but rather to help you on days you feel up to tackling some jobs.

Be kind and compassionate to yourself always.

Lots of love,

Little O x

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