When stay-at-home orders were issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed that social media and online sources were immediately telling us to take advantage of the time we had been granted, as if there was not a traumatizing pandemic just outside our doors.
Productivity consultant Chris Bailey explains that this message is difficult to put into action and also quite shaming. He notes that it is already quite challenging to remain focused for multiple hours a day in one spot, like many of us already do. Yet, during a global crisis which has affected all aspect of our lives, our minds are even more scattered, no matter how hard we try to ignore it. Journalist Nick Martin calls it the American “hustle culture;” if you stop to breathe because you’re not a machine, you’re somehow behind. According to the New York Times, added stress and shame of not being productive can just impede one’s daily routine even more. And that’s not even the point; people no longer understand how to just “be.” Existing should be enough to assign value to one’s life, but there has been a gross commodification of our lives.
Nick Martin explains that we have not all been allotted the gift of time. Many of us are essential workers and nothing has changed except for a spike in danger when we go to work. Those who do “have time,” are not on vacation. They are in quarantine, worrying about loved ones they cannot see. Martin asserts that it is normal to experience a significant lapse in one’s mood. If you need to take a break or adapt your usual to-do list to the current pandemic, do it. No one is actually expecting you to both become the next Shakespeare and write the best Parlia map in the world.