Can we all please calm down: productivity does not define you


Tess Weinreich

Junior Tess Weinreich argues that productivity should not define us in the midst of a global pandemic.

Tess Weinreich, Executive Editor

In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, chances are your work environment is looking a bit different than it did a month ago. The classroom is no longer space exclusively used for learning. If your situation is like mine, it also hosts favorite pandemic pastimes like sleeping, snacking incessantly, and staring into space. 

Across the globe, professional and academic institutions have found ways to carry on remotely. Whether it be over Zoom or in an asynchronous format, Potomac’s second semester has resumed. 

For me, some semblance of normalcy (even the return of classwork and assignments) has been a comfort. Yet, all too often I’ve found myself frustrated and struggling to handle a workload that, under normal circumstances, would be easily manageable. 

To protect our communal health, it was deemed necessary to modify how we work. To protect our mental health, it is equally necessary to adjust our expectations for how much we can accomplish in a day. So let’s stop making overambitious to-do lists, or at the very least let’s stop faulting ourselves if we fail to cross off every item.

Media outlets are only adding pressure. With tips and tricks to help you ‘productively’ fill the day, they’re misrepresenting this global pandemic as a gift of time –an opportunity really– for self-improvement. A quick reality check: Governor Northam’s stay-at-home order was not instituted so that you can pick up a new language, learn to cook, or pursue your personal fitness goals. It is an emergent measure, put in place to protect those at risk from a hyper-contagious and deadly virus.

 If you’ve found a new hobby you enjoy, that’s great. I’m happy for you. But in these inescapably stressful times, you deserve a pat on the back for getting out of bed. So next time you spend a day in sweats, eating ice-cream for breakfast, and watching Netflix, just be gratified that you got up, got dressed, and fed yourself.

We aren’t machines. We can’t just decide to work at maximum capacity. Be gentle with yourself and remember that you aren’t defined by how much you do in a day.