Are you too busy looking productive to be productive?

I’ve worked from home for over seven years now and I have my ways of being productive but I’ve noticed since being in lockdown that my usual methods haven’t been working so well.

But that’s OK. 

I checked with experts.

I took inspiration from one in particular, Aisha Ahmad. In her article, published a few weeks ago in The Chronicle of Higher Education: Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure, she talks about it being “perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost” especially in the early stages of a crisis.

Despite being a productivity coach, I’m left unimpressed by the competitive productivity I’ve seen across social media in recent weeks. The endless images of ‘productivity porn’ doing the rounds are not helping most people I’m connected to and/or working with. 

One theme that’s circulating is the idea that we have lots more free time – and that we should be doing productive things with it. Maybe some of us do have more time, but we are not on holiday, this isn’t free vacation time.

It’s enforced home time to keep us safe and that places a very different spin on things.

Listening to one of my peers talk evangelically about how this is a time to focus on personal growth and to offer to help clients do the same, I found myself bristling…probably because they were really annoying but also because there was no empathy, no consideration that, amidst the greatest global crisis in our lifetime where thousands are dying, ill, penniless, displaced and scared, not everyone has their personal growth running shoes on, ready to run a marathon.

Some people are struggling. They don’t have the energy to focus on personal growth. They aren’t sleeping, they’re anxious and their motivation is low. And I believe we need to acknowledge that and say “It’s OK”. These people are not failing because they aren’t writing a novel or mastering a new language, they are being human. 

As coaches, we need to stop telling them what’s good for them and start listening to what they need.

Another thing I’ve been addressing is people feeling bad about themselves because they aren’t doing things they usually do. One client, Lucy, told me: “I normally do dance classes three times a week and I feel really bad that I haven’t found an alternative at home…but my flat is really small.” As the conversation went on, the real reason emerged – it wasn’t the size of the space, it was Lucy’s lack of interest. 

But that’s OK. 

Now is not ‘normal’ time.

Why should we feel bad for not doing things we ‘normally’ do?

There’s no need to add more pressure on ourselves and, in Lucy’s case, she can go back to dance classes when the time is right.

James ‘normally’ gets up at 5am, runs 3k, gets ready for work and commutes in, stopping to grab breakfast on the way. Now, he gets up later and some days he’s still wearing pyjama pants at 3pm.

But that’s OK. 

At least he has pants on.

Let’s celebrate small successes.

And that’s what I’ve been promoting with my clients. 

If you’ve misplaced your motivation, are struggling to balance work invading your home life or just want to know if how you feel is ‘normal’ then let’s talk about those things.

But let’s make sure we have pants on first.

If you’d welcome a fresh perspective on productivity or help to find the motivation to put pants on, then why not get in touch for a chat?

Header photo by meredith hunter on Unsplash
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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