Redefining productivity in times of crisis
So yeah, there’s a chance I wished too hard and accidentally caused Coronavirus.
Sorry about that. Be careful what you wish for, right?
At the beginning of the year, I’d have given anything for three months off work. I couldn’t really justify it, but I could have really done with those 90 days. My blog was taking off, I had loads of ideas for Medium posts, I’d neglected my other website…
That was all I needed to turn my life around and FINALLY make a full time living as a writer.
And now I have three months off. Plus, due to measures put in place by the UK government, I’m (hopefully) going to be getting paid, and have some semblance of a job left at the end of it.
Except getting a three-month sabbatical is a bit different when I have no idea what kind of world I’ll emerge into in late June. Or if I’ll even be able to emerge.
It’s a terrifying time, made worse by the fact we have no idea of the scale of the fallout.
To be honest, I have no idea if the company I work for will be able to recover, or when I’ll next get paid. I’m just clinging onto the fact I have three months of paid leave.
I’m trying help in the only ways I can.
- I’m staying at home. Whilst I’m not in the vulnerable category, I probably have it. I worked in a restaurant that was busy up until last Saturday. It would be weird if I didn’t have it. But I rarely get ill — I’ve never had flu, and rarely get colds — chances are, I’m a carrier. I will NOT be the Typhoid Mary of Coronavirus.
- I hit the supermarkets after everyone else because years of being vegan have gotten me used to creating meals with a parsnip, hash browns, and a tin of kidney beans.
- I’m also working on my projects as much as I can. If I create a year’s worth of content in these three months, then not only can I work more if my boss needs me, but I could make money.
And spend it.
This sounds selfish, but it’s how economies recover. That’s why our government is bailing us out. They need us to spend money.
Hopefully, some protection for the self-employed is on its way.
How to be productive when you’re self-isolating
Start with your definition of productive
This isn’t the time to be chained to your desk from 9–5. We need to find light in the dark. Consider productivity as doing something you love, but don’t get time for — crack out the jigsaws, read to your kids, clean out your kitchen cupboards.
For the first time, some of us have more time than we know what to do with. Don’t waste it. Catch up on all those Netflix shows you didn’t have time for.
Being productive in a time a crisis isn’t a competition. Use this time to decompress.
Try to remember all the things you said you’d do if you had the time. Write them down.
If you find yourself wanting to do something, consult your list.
If you find yourself wanting to make a den in the cupboard under the stairs and watching Gilmore Girls, do that instead.
Don’t make rash decisions
If you look on Reddit at the moment it’s full of people asking about where they can make money online.
I’ve been there.
If there was a decent way of making quick money without a lot of specific experience and skill, I’d know about it.
So if you see an offer that seems too good to be true, give it a cursory google. Now is not the time to be scammed.
Should you find yourself wanting to start a blog, then 1. go and watch Income School on YouTube and 2. Pay for self-hosting and a domain name. It’ll be about £75.
Only spend it you can afford it.
If you can’t afford it, create a content plan, and write your content in Google docs. Copy and paste it when you can afford hosting.
Plan your days
If, like me, you do have a load of stuff you want to do, and you feel capable of doing it, then make yourself a schedule.
Work backwards — write a list of all the things you want to have achieved by the time you get back to work, how much time you want to spend on it (how many hours a day, how many days a week) and then create a schedule so that every day you know exactly what you need to do.
Even if you plan your days around the films you’re going to watch, and what you’re going to eat, it’ll help provide a bit of structure to your life.
Don’t work too much
I like to be sat at my desk by 9, and out of my office by 5. So far, so normal. But I do take a 2-hour break at lunchtime. Oh, and I spend a lot of the afternoon session playing Logic Pic on my phone.
I could get a lot of work done. As I said before, I could potentially create a year’s worth of content. Unfortunately, the uneasy feeling in my stomach is coming between me and my best work.
My bar is set at ‘write something’. It’s enough.
This isn’t a time to burn out. It’s a time to survive. We can thrive later.
I am trying to perfect being super productive for five hours a day because that’s my perfect work schedule.
It allows me plenty of time for exercise, cooking, and sitting down (my favourite thing), and if I can get it nailed by the time this crisis is over, I’ll be more dedicated to making it happen.
Imagine being able to work 25-hour weeks at home forever. Bliss.
And if it turns out I hate it, I can stop writing and try something else. Lighthouse keeper, maybe.
This is a way to test out the lifestyle I aspire to have (with more money, obvs). It’s not under circumstances I’d have chosen, but there you go.
If you have kids or have to work from home, this is not a time to be overworking yourself.
I have literally nothing else to do.
How to be productive without working
We’re a society driven by work. It’s where we spend most of our days and make most of our friends.
It’s how we’re measured as human beings, whether we want to be or not.
The current trend is to monetise every activity you partake in. We forget that we can do something just because we love it.
I think that’s why puzzles came out of this as the unsung heroes of social isolation. They’re challenging, fun, and, as far as I’m aware, non-monetisable.
They’re also a more acceptable way of puzzling than, say, playing Candy Crush for four hours. We’re a weird species.
I’m attempting to learn to draw. I’m terrible at it.
Cruel really, since my dad is a professional artist. I use the Procreate app on my iPad and follow along with tutorials on Youtube. If you ever fancied being the next Bob Ross, this is a less messy way to practice.
I love digital art, and it’s a skill that I could potentially monetise, which excites me, but also I’ll need to practise for the next couple of decades before I create anything worth selling. A happy medium, I think.
It’s a nice hybrid between doing something with no monetisation potential, and, you know, your job. I highly recommend.
There are loads of similar hobbies — gardening, photography, fiction writing — that you can start doing of an evening without high start-up costs.
I mean, you probably already have a camera phone, some way of writing. Just give your garden a good weed and then research garden design on YouTube.
Yes, it SUCKS being stuck indoors, especially if you’re worried about vulnerable family members, or how you’re going to pay the rent. And if all you can do is watch all the Netflix shows that you didn’t get round to, great. It’s one thing off your mind.