Updated: Nov 21, 2020
By Vasco Vidal
Image via Anastasiya Badovska
It all goes back to the American dream –– the national ethos that tells us that, regardless of who we are, we can achieve success –– translated into upward social mobility, if we sacrifice ourselves and work hard. This concept deeply rooted in our society has created the idea that our value as human beings is intimately linked to our search for wealth, which has made many of us believe that we must work harder than most people. Now that we are isolated from the outside world because of the pandemic and have more free time, we are expected to be productive and work harder than ever.
From one moment to another, social networks are filled with influencers showing us their daily routines full of activities and without space to rest, celebrities recommending us to learn a new language or write a book, and people communicating implicitly that we should be productive and use this time to do something extraordinary. Our obsession with productivity seems to have made them forget that these are difficult times in which the majority still feels overwhelmed by the changes that the pandemic has brought. Some prefer to use this time to work a few extra hours while others use it to reflect and rest. We are all different from each other, and we must do what feels right for us, not what society pressures us to do.
It is undeniable that it is difficult to do what feels best to ourselves because we are constantly told that we must work all the time, making ourselves feel guilty if we decide to take time off. Since our childhood, we have been brainwashed to believe that if we fail –– remember that failure does not exist, since we will always learn from whatever happens, and that leads us to grow as a person –– it is because we do not work hard enough. Not because not all of us have the same opportunities, or because some people have more privileges due to their race and class.
It's okay to be a hard worker or want to be productive. But it is important to do so because that works for you, and that's what you want. Keep in mind that you will be more productive and do a better job if you leave time to rest and get an adequate amount of sleep each night. This will protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and overall safety.
Dream big, follow your goals, and be a hard worker; but take care of yourself. Do things that you love and relax. Remember that many successful people have said that their best ideas came to them in these moments.
Here are some things that have helped me to be productive without falling into workaholism. These tips can help you if you want to get things done without stress. Just don’t forget that what works for me may not work for you, so always look for options and come up with a plan that suits you.
Have a to-do list: this is something I do every day, as it helps me focus. When I finish my homework for the day, I take time to rest and never use it to do what I have on my list for the next day.
Have a schedule: I tend to procrastinate a lot, so I like to make a schedule that includes 30-minute breaks after two hours of work and a short nap after lunch.
Do puzzles, color, or make art: I find this relaxing, and it helps me gain energy. It is usually when my best ideas pop up.
Write your thoughts in a journal: writing helps me relieve my stress and improves my writing skills.
Exercise: I'm not a sports fan; in fact I hate exercising. But it's necessary because it de-stresses me. I find it relaxing to walk while listening to music.
Understand your feelings and don't blame yourself for not feeling well: we are in a pandemic, hence it's okay to feel down in the dumps sometimes, wanting to do nothing. If on a Friday night after a busy week you want to watch Netflix while eating Cheetos, that's fine.
Written by writer Vasco Vidal.