How NOT being productive can increase your productivity

by May 22, 2020

You’re probably spending a little more time than usual at home right now and feeling the pressure to tick everything off your ongoing to-do list. There are influencers on Instagram telling you Shakespeare wrote King Lear during quarantine, those go-getters releasing their daily songs/podcasts/recipes, and uni friends who have already completed the entire semester of work. With that being said, it’s understandable if you’re not feeling productive right now: unprecedented levels of uncertainty and anxiety are hitting us all and might even be exacerbating existing mental health problems.

Here are a few ways you can reframe your unproductive moments as methods for future productivity!

Getting your daily dose of imagination

If you’re like me and studying in a creative field, you should never feel guilty for binging the latest TV shows or movies or getting stuck into a good book, because it could just spark an idea for your next project.  There are endless examples of great pieces of work inspired by others, think Ulysses (inspired by The Odyssey), The Lion King (suspiciously similar to Hamlet) and even Bridget Jones’ Diary (based on Pride and Prejudice). You’ve got to feed the muse to keep it alive, and – in my opinion – watching The Office and reading Twilight fanfiction is the PERFECT diet.

It’s all fun and games

Life is pretty weird at the moment, so it’s no wonder that so many of us are seeking out other worlds to live in for just a little bit. For you this might mean trading hard-earned bells for furniture on Animal Crossing, (virtually) racing friends on Mario Kart, or spending an evening working on a puzzle with your mum. Whatever you enjoy doing, it’s proven that playing games can improve your memory, spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and information retention. Even a quick Tetris session leaves your brain free to think about other things, as well as expelling some pent-up energy from all the time spent inside. Sounds pretty good to me!

Bake the world a better place

If you could have burned water before isolation and now fancy yourself deserving of a spot in the Bon Appetit test kitchen, you’re not alone! With restaurants and cafes closed for the most part, you’re probably spending more time in the kitchen and less at your desk. This is the perfect chance to learn something new, get creative, and most importantly give yourself some all-important brain food! Sure, baking a third batch of cookies for the week won’t get us out of lockdown any sooner, but it could improve your mental health and give you a project to work on in the meantime.  

Let’s stick together

Socialising with friends looks pretty different these days, and it can feel harder to switch off and just relax. Luckily platforms like Zoom can ensure that you’re maintaining important connections, even 1.5m+ apart. Instead of feeling guilty next time you call a friend or ask a colleague out for after work (digital) drinks, remember that you’re helping yourself and others out in a difficult time, and promoting a sense of community that can’t be underestimated. Plus, you never know when one of those connections could come in handy in the future!

It’s totally natural to feel worried or stressed when you’re not constantly ticking things off your to-do list, but that doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time. Having fun and staying busy is crucial to getting to the other side of quarantine relatively unscathed. So next time you feel guilty about enjoying a Hollywood blockbuster or taking the dog for another walk instead of tackling an assignment, remember that looking after yourself is priority number 1! There’s certainly upsides: you’ll thank me later when you have a slice of cake for your study snack.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Lily Cameron

Lily Cameron

Social Media Intern

Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a Communications (Creative Writing) student at UTS, and current Social Media Intern at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.