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The pandemic productivity struggle is real

Apr 9, 2020
(updated: Dec 1, 2022)
Max 5 min read

This is hard. We're in an unprecedented time where there's very little certainty. If we have a job, we don't know if it's secure. If we've lost our jobs, we don't know if we'll be able to find another one or be able to make ends meet. 

I'm a freelancer and know that variance is part of the game. Clients come and go, and so do steady paychecks. I try to create stability in my life, knowing that financial stability comes from making my clients happy and getting my work done. 

Right now I'm really struggling to get work done. I have low motivation to do anything that's not caring for myself or caring for my family. I get more fulfillment making dinner right now for my quaranteam than I do delivering work that I've promised to do. 

There are some days I feel depressed and have a hard time getting out of bed, preparing food, or opening my computer. If I try and focus on taking care of myself I feel incredibly guilty. I should be doing work. I should be responding to emails more quickly. I should be networking more in case my projects are placed in jeopardy so I can weather this recession that we're in. I wonder if I'm self-sabotaging myself and if this lack of motivation will lead me to get laid off from my projects. 

At the same time, I'm seeing the media and I feel guilty that I don't feel more grateful to be healthy, comfortable, and fed, with wonderful people around me, instead of in places like New York where hospitals are overloaded, and people are suffering and dying.

I know I’m not alone in this struggle. We're not just working from home. We're bunkering inside to protect ourselves and our society from a global pandemic. 

So what can we do to get through this time where we’re supposed to be getting work done, amidst the stress of a global pandemic?

1. Stop comparing yourself to others

It’s easy to think that everyone else is so much more productive than you during this time. The thing is, you’re only seeing a snippet of what’s going on in their life. You have to accept where you’re at during this time, and give yourself self-compassion.

2. Give yourself permission to let your work be good enough

For overachievers and perfectionists, it’s hard to ever let things be good enough. They can always be better. A more beautiful deck, a better-worded article. In this time, let things be good enough. And remember, if you are in the overachiever or perfectionist category, your version of good enough, is oftentimes still better than others.

3. Alleviate guilt from self-care

When you're giving yourself self-care, try to alleviate any guilt that comes from it. If you’re not able to remove guilt from any time you’re not working, you’re going to add additional stress to yourself. You need to be able to unwind and relax in order to be productive and get work done.

4. Get help if you need it

Lastly, get help if you need it. There are so many options depending on your budget and needs. From therapy, mindfulness coaching, mediation, online courses, and books, there are many different ways you can help yourself during this time. 

This isn't a sprint, but a marathon. We're in this for a while and we have to keep doing our best. We're all struggling, many in the same way as you. We’re all in this together.

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