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Redefining Productivity During a Pandemic

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the productivity wave has extended into the world of social distancing. I find that myself and others feel a pressure to do more now that we have all this time, and the ever present feeling of having to always be doing something. “If you have free time, you must be forgetting something. Couldn’t you be cleaning, or exercising, or studying more? If you have a break, you must not be working hard enough”. I definitely fell victim to this work hard attitude in school, and feel it even more for some reason as remote learning has become a reality for all college students. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t do your best job if you neglect taking care of yourself. Take this opportunity to dial in on your classes, but with that being said, someone who spends their free time baking a cake and spend time with family is no more/less productive than the person who decides to start training for a marathon. Here are some tips that have helped keep me (at least somewhat) sane and productive during this weird time. 


After binge watching 3 seasons of Hell’s Kitchen, 1 season of Masterchef, and 2 seasons of The Great British Baking Show, I can say that these tried and true recipes have resurrected me from the depths of my social distancing hole. I never used to think of myself as someone who could bake or cook, but now is the perfect time to learn! Drop some recipes off (with proper social distancing protocols of course) to your neighbors, friends, share with your family, or have some all for yourself. These recipes are all made of fairly easy to find ingredients, considering that most people probably don’t have a Masterchef worthy array of ingredients in their pantries right now. 

2.Tackling online classes

-Set clear boundaries in your home: designate a workspace for yourself. It’s tempting to do work in the comfort of your bed, but separating your work space from your sleeping area has been shown to be super important in helping you get the best sleep possible. This could be your desk, the kitchen table, or outside if you have a backyard. Try to communicate these boundaries with family members so that you’re not on a zoom call and get interrupted by your mom coming to nag you to clean the kitchen (definitely guilty of that one)

-have online group study sessions (via skype or zoom)

-this can help keep you connected with people in the same class and lets you still have that valuable group study time before an exam 

-maintain some kind of basic routine: try to wake up before noon, taking a shower, making a nice breakfast, and doing some small achievable goals (whether that be work or school related or self-care)

3.Okay, maybe exercise a little

It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. I used to run cross country and track in high school but stopped in college because I wanted to try weightlifting. Now that it’s become one of the only options due to gyms closing, I’ve gotten back into running and remembered how great it is (plus it makes for great dog watching). Fresh air and sunlight are great stress reducers, and running outside reminds me that there is a world outside of my apartment and the things going on inside my mind. I also love doing yoga or guided meditations that help me start and end my day on a positive note. I’ve linked some at home workouts that don’t require any equipment and links to some companies that are doing ~free~ live streamed and archived workouts! No matter how you get moving, exercise can be a great outlet for stress and help you feel a sense of normalcy during this time.

-Blogilates :for a great at home pilates workout

-Yoga With Adrienne :everything from relaxing yoga and guided meditations to more challenging vinyasa yoga

-CorePower Yoga is streaming live classes 3 (!!!) times a day on YouTube

-running or walking

4.Give yourself a break

Going from having a million and one things to accomplish on your on-campus to-do list to only having to deal with your now-online classes can be stressful. We’re social creatures by nature, and it can be hard having to adjust to social distancing. You are working through an entirely new routine, and you should recognize that it may take some time to become adjusted. You don’t need to write a novel right now. Making a spreadsheet right now is not going to vanquish your stressors and fears. Sometimes, what you need on a certain day is to just be a blob and do whatever you want. I call these my “recharge” days. Without those days, I become burnt out and don’t perform as well in school in the long run. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you aren’t immediately feeling as productive or focused as you used to, because everyone’s definition of productivity might look a little bit different.

Stay safe and remember that we’re all in this together!


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