Let Yourself Be Unproductive

At the beginning of the quarantine most of us felt inspired: It seemed like the perfect chance to devote time to yourself and finally acquire skills you never could find a minute for. However, as time passes, the motivation vanishes. Two months later, you find yourself lying on the couch with crisps instead of practicing yoga, with guilt and a heavy heart. But should we really feel this way?

Credit: museudemontserrat.com

The pandemic lifestyle is simultaneously a completely special and also frustrating phenomena. In a blink, your to-do list shrinks to "zoom lecture at 10.00" and "do the laundry", and the only friends to see on a daily basis are Rachel, Monica, and Chandler. So, here it comes — the need to fill the void in the schedule with the stuff that at least cause the illusion of changes. Apparently, everything is pointing to the obvious answer — self-education: learn languages, python, drawing, enjoy your life! And we all believe, and start, eagerly taking up 5 on-line courses at Coursera in a row… and forgetting about them in a week, unable to find neither energy nor will. Fortunately, that’s completely normal. Before starting self-flagellation about constant laziness, other factors should be taken into consideration.

It’s not a secret that we are under pressure, feeling stress that won’t finish soon just like it happens when the exam you’ve been scared of is finally passed. Somedays it appears like this vicious circle of household shores routine has no emergency exit. Uncertainty about the future, adaptation to new rules are massive incentives of stress, which even if you once can stop noticing is still hiding at the background of your life, causing inconveniences. Thus, your body uses the defensive mechanism, having no choice but turn the energy-saving mode on till it all ends, redirecting power to survival processes. That’s why with 18 hours of free time per day, you still can’t force yourself to do one more set of physical exercise or write a term paper.

Now it is high time to give credit to the Internet, which is our best friend and worst enemy. Thanks to it, we are in touch with our families and are able to continue studying and working regardless of the situation. At the same time, the Internet is becoming a sort of spyglass for observing the lives of people we barely know and they, curiously enough, become our major influencers. Every morning I go to my Instagram feed and contemplate the path of success of my groupmates, former classmates, being productive and having fun. The impression is that they are keeping the situation under control and proudly share their accomplishments — doing a plank for 5 minutes, home-made bread, B1 in Spanish. It is no wonder that your inner critic wakes up blaming you for doing nothing, because we want to be the best versions of ourselves and apparently not doing well. At such a moment, it’s worth reminding yourself that one’s social network is far from a real picture, it’s a fusion of events and images they want us to see. So how objective is your opinion of a perfect productive person, which is based on a couple of pictures? Maybe we’d better stop comparing ourselves to others, especially strangers — it’s the best way to relax.

Moreover, it’s crucial to be conscious and listen to your heart and mind. Before taking up a new hobby, ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Maybe there’s no need to learn another language just for "knowing it" or if new words and grammar makes you suffer. Think of what you really like — board games or making coffee and take your time. Generally, idleness is art, that is available to the lucky minority. To achieve harmony, it’s important to learn how to be lazy. I’m not encouraging you to give up all the duties. I’m sure you’re doing great. And you totally deserve to have a rest. Quarantine is not a productivity competition.

4th year student (Customs Management)