Captain’s Blog: It’s okay to not be productive

by The Collected Mutineer

There’s something interesting about society as a whole. The moment we have any type of free time, we are expected to produce—to be creative—to finally write that book or plant that garden or redecorate that room. Even when we don’t have free time, others want us to make time.

This is certainly true of what’s going on in the world right now. Regardless of whether or not you are working from home, you might be feeling immense pressure to create from social media, your peers, or even just your own expectations. I know that the latter is what happened to me recently. When I learned that I would be working from home for the foreseeable future thanks to social distancing, my first thought was that I would magically have more time every day to tackle my endless list of creative to-do’s.

Needless to say, this has not actually been the case.

If you’re like me, your job has actually gotten more demanding since working from home. If you’re like me, you don’t actually mind being home but are still struggling with bouts of anxiety. If you’re like me, you can’t pinpoint why you feel guilty about not having the creative energy at the end of the day to accomplish what you (or those endless social media posts) think you should be doing during your so-called free time.

I’m here to tell you (and myself) that it’s okay to not be productive right now.

It’s okay to not have the drive that your peers seem to have. It’s okay if you feel like you need to take care of yourself instead of finishing that cosplay or learning a new language. It’s okay if you come out of quarantine without a list of “here’s what I accomplished while I was home.”

So instead of worrying about what other people (or you yourself) think you should be doing right now, try this. Here are some self-care suggestions that might be better for your mental health than being productive the way society wants you to be. Remember: self-care isn’t selfish. Mental health is always important, and even more so during this scary and uncertain time.

Practice Yoga (no, you don’t have to be a pro)

Yoga with Adriene is a wonderful thing. Her YouTube channel has practices for every scenario and skill level you can imagine. It’s a great way to get your day started, or even a great way to wind down before bed. For a lot of these, you don’t even need a yoga mat.

Eat some fresh fruit and veg

I’m sure you’ve come across this before, but it’s true. Getting some fresh food in your tummy instead of just those chips we’ve all be stuffing our faces with (yes, I’m guilty of it too) will make you feel better.

Meet Claire of Bon Appetit

I’ve been watching Claire on YouTube on and off for a while, but there’s something especially refreshing and relatable about her content right now. Even if you don’t like cooking shows, you should give Gourmet Makes a try.

Find a repetitive activity

Many of us find repetition soothing no matter what’s going on in the world, so why not do it now? While this may result in something productive or creative, that’s not the goal. Try coloring, knitting, or something of the sort to let your hands do the work and give your brain a break.

Foster a pet

Now is actually an ideal time to give some love and attention to an animal in need. Many of us might be working from home, but shelters are still out there trying to save lives. Check out your local shelter to see if they’re offering a foster program right now for cats or dogs.

Take a nap

Emotional strain can cause physical tiredness—so you know what? Take a nap, and don’t feel guilty. It’s normal to feel exhaustion at a time like this, and you should give your body the rest it needs. Turn on some ASMR and drift off to dreamland.

Go ahead and binge that show

You’re probably already doing this, and I’m here to tell you that it’s 100% Collective Approved. If you haven’t already watched Money Heist (aka La casa de papel) on Netflix, you should start. Like, now.

2 Comments

  1. zion3rd

    Thanks you for this, I really needed to hear its ok to just be unproductive, even though I feel my own pressure to be productive every day, to get my thesis done, to work on my work projects, to do laundry, to clean,… and its always less than what my peers seem to be able to accomplish.

  2. Mariann E. Danko

    I too am grateful for this post. I can say I have been somewhat productive during this time home, but I would honestly like to just veg sometimes. At those times I have force myself to accomplish something, even if just a little because I don’t want this time to be non-productive. It’s so rare to have FREE TIME, especially having been a single Mom. My Son is now a college student, and his behavior during these stay-at-home orders is the complete opposite, which at times drives me crazy, but in all honesty I’m thinking I could learn from him. How to be non-productive and be OK with it.

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