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Productivity during the pandemic: Finding an answer to “Are we doing enough?”

By The Charger Account Editorial Staff Dec. 9, 2020

Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity—oft-repeated examples of how quarantine has spawned great innovations throughout history. While most people are not legendary authors and scientists, all these months spent at home have inevitably begged the question: are we doing enough with all the time on our hands?

Most of us will not come close to the aforementioned achievements, but we have still brought a kind of “hustle culture” to the COVID-19 pandemic. Baking loaves of sourdough, adopting a new pet, working out to Chloe Ting’s abs challenge—many of quarantine’s popular trends have focused on revamping lifestyles and learning new skills. As people endlessly occupy themselves with tasks and pursue efficiency, guilt over becoming less productive during lockdown is not uncommon.

Rather than simply feeling the need to develop a busy schedule during the middle of a pandemic, we must also reallocate this newfound “free time” to take care of ourselves and reinforce our mental health.

Setting new goals and attempting to recover a sense of structure to life in lockdown are certainly beneficial; however, concentrating too much on maximizing output can become a problem. With the implementation of distance learning, it is easy to focus on all the supposed extra time we have: the minutes saved logging into Canvas and clicking on Webex links instead of walking to classrooms and eating lunch at home instead of waiting in cafeteria lines seem to translate to hours that could be spent finishing more tasks.

Yet, we do not necessarily account for the additional stresses that accompany virtual school and social distancing. Rather than simply feeling the need to develop a busy schedule during the middle of a pandemic, we must also reallocate this newfound “free time” to take care of ourselves and reinforce our mental health.

Hyperfixation on efficiency may actually result in self-sabotage. In an interview with Forbes, lifestyle coach Rose-Ann Uwague explains that expectations can impede productivity. As emotional and social factors in our lives change, so must the demands we place on ourselves, says Uwague—setting clear boundaries is crucial to avoiding burnout, which can lead to lack of motivation and reduced work quality as stated by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care.

Students must acknowledge that taking breaks can help improve motivation as well as strengthen one’s ability to concentrate.

According to Psychology Today, author Nir Eyal finds that exercising different parts of the brain through light activities instead of exhausting the goal-achieving prefrontal cortex can revitalize energy and attentiveness. Greater Good Magazine of the University of California, Berkeley, also explains that allowing our brains to rest can also reduce stress levels that have been heightened during the pandemic and help increase creativity.

As we applaud the school musicians creating new compositions, the students learning to cook new dishes and the clubs continuing to compete virtually, we must also recognize that admiring others’ accomplishments should not equate to pressuring ourselves into doing more. Especially now more than ever, taking breaks is imperative to ensure well-being—whether that means binging a few episodes of a favorite show, taking an after school nap or just donning pajamas all day.


About the Contributors

Kelly Cui


Kelly Cui is a senior and one of the Editors-in-Chief of The Charger Account. In her spare time, she likes to solve crosswords and knit.

Minji Kim


Minji Kim is a senior at Leland High School and is the Editor-in-Chief for School News, Investigative Report, and Feature School. She loves to spend her time watching Netflix and eating ice cream on a daily basis.

Sophia Lu


Sophia Lu is a senior and one of The Charger Account's Editors-In-Chief. She loves reading historical nonfiction, hiking in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve (especially on the Randol Trail) and sampling new foods in her free time. When not scouring Yelp for her next foodie destination, she can be found cheering on her hometown Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers.

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