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It’s a Pandemic, Not a Productivity Contest… Apparently

What’s a productivity contest anyway?! In one of my recent articles, I shared a picture I liked and found quite motivating. It summed up how I was feeling about what I’d like my personal experience of the lockdown to be like. I always believe the best way out of difficulty is to take action and control of the situation. The picture I shared in my article was this one…

productivity contest

Later that day whilst on Twitter, I saw a link to (and a discussion about) an article that said ‘This is a pandemic, not a productivity contest’. It was a Washington Post article and drew equal praise and criticism.

So this is a pandemic we’re in the middle of…

I’d agree, to a point. Yes, from a technical point of view this is a pandemic, but it’s not a pandemic everywhere, if you get what I mean?

It’s not a pandemic in my house, for example. As it stands right now, nobody in my family is suffering from COVID-19 (touch wood). We’re not mixing with other people, so within our immediate environment we’re all safe and well. Ask my kids are we in the middle of a global pandemic and they’ll look at you like a confused dog. A pan-what?

We’re inside as part of the nationwide effort to slow/stop the spread of the disease. We’re not inside because we’ve got it. So we’re perfectly fit, healthy and well, with extra time given back to us. Sounds like the perfect chance to have a productivity content with… myself.

Out there in the big wide world, it’s a pandemic. Globally, medics are risking their lives to fight this disease. Resources are being stretched and entire economies are being shut down. Lots of countries have been (and still are) in a lockdown. But we’re not all experiencing the same thing at the same time and it’s important to realise that.

So is there real pressure to be productive in a pandemic?

We’re at home, we’re working less, we’re travelling less and we’ve got a lot more time on our hands. We could waste it, or we could use it productively. It’s a matter of choice, and we’ve chosen to use it productively. Sue us.

productivity contest

But this is the problem with this woke, one-size-fits-all style of journalism. Nobody should be made to feel guilty for what they aren’t doing blah blah blah.

It assumes that anybody sharing their productivity celebrations is having a passive-aggressive dig at those who aren’t, when that’s probably miles from the reality. It certainly would be in my case – a social media celebration of a job well done is for my own benefit, not meant to offend anyone or make them feel inadequate.

If your way of coping with this is to roll your sleeves up and get busy, who the fuck reserves the right to criticise you for your way of coping? I personally wouldn’t want to wallow on the sofa watching TV throughout the lockdown, but if that’s your way of coping, crack on. You be you.

It probably says more about the ones being offended than it does those doing the so-called offender to be honest.

OK, if you or someone close to you has suffered from the disease (or even worse, lost their lives to it), then you’d be completely forgiven for not doing anything but grieve and come to terms with the situation, but if you’re free from the ill effects of the disease, then maybe you should get cracking on something positive and productive. It doesn’t need to be a new skill or a business, but I bet there’s a chance you’ve been putting stuff off that you could be getting on with.

I definitely had been putting certain jobs off, so I cracked on with them.

I’ve made an accomplishment list. I’m self employed, so I’ve been out of the house far less than I normally would be. My working time out of the house has reduced by around 80%, so if I hadn’t been positive and productive with all of this extra time on my hands, I’d have been an absolute joke. A lazy, whiny, tosser. The kind of whom I’d dislike intensely.

I’m personally enjoying being part of my own productivity contest. It’s giving me a sense of accomplishment that is hard to find elsewhere at the moment.

In no particular order, here’s my list of pandemic accomplishments from my productivity contest. I hope you’ve got a list of accomplishments too…

I’m not through all of the jobs yet, but I’m making solid headway. When this lockdown is over, I’d like to have added more to this list, but at the time of writing 29th April), this is the state of play…

  1. I painted the vegetable planters in the garden
  2. I’ve grown my copywriting business
  3. I’ve written 10 (at the time of writing) blog posts for my two sites
  4. I wrote and finished my Rapid Fat Loss eBook
  5. I managed to cancel the April Active Retreat and refund the guests, plus rearrange it for November
  6. I’ve successfully (along with Rachel) taught the kids at home schooling
  7. I’ve been out on my bike a few times
  8. I ran 5km in the Run 5 Donate 5 Nominate 5 Challenge
  9. I brought on 2 new copywriting clients
  10. I successfully adapted my working practice during these odd times
  11. I’ve read 3 books
  12. I’ve picked wild garlic and made wild garlic pesto
  13. I’ve learned to bake Focaccia
  14. I’ve learned to bake cookies
  15. I added to my firewood pile by chopping up the spare logs
  16. Cleaned my email list by removing 400 spam accounts from the list
  17. Invested money into the stock market (early on, before the shutdown reduced my work and income)
  18. Have developed a deeper relationship with my kids
  19. Sold a few items on eBay
  20. I’ve been interviewed on a podcast
  21. I changed my car insurance provider, cutting the bill in half
  22. I deleted old online accounts and updated passwords for others
  23. I updated the Active Retreat website
  24. I’ve sent my email list regular(ish) emails
  25. Paid my tax bill off
  26. Explored the village I live in more widely
  27. I’ve worked out at home more
  28. I’ve taken the kids to exercise with me in the park (they’ve loved it)
  29. Made tweaks and changes to this
  30. Planned more changes and updates to areas of the site
  31. Planned a membership option to the site

As I said at the top, I’m not fully through my list. I’ve got odd-jobs to do at home, but I’d put these on a ‘rainy day jobs’ list. They haven’t been done because it’s been such fantastic weather recently. They’ll be done though.

I’ve actually really enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that has been afforded to me by the extra spare time in my life. On reflection, I think I needed this phase. I wasn’t tired or anything like that, but it has been a metaphorical clearing of the decks – getting things done, catching up with admin, using the time well. There have been some real, tangible pros to this time that I hope we’ve all experienced.

I’d never even muttered the phrase ‘productivity contest’ until I saw the article, but then I realised that’s exactly what I’d set myself. I was rubbing the jobs off my whiteboard when they were done and the sense of accomplishment is what has made this whole thing easy to cope with. I’ve managed to get more admin and planning done in the lockdown than I would during a 6 month period (I’m guessing so anyway).

I think using the time productively has given me a sense of control back that has helped me enormously, so I’m always going to be pro-productivity (with a little balance thrown in of course). If that means you stage a productivity contest with yourself, go for it. There’s more than one way to cope with the lockdown. If what you’re doing is helping you, whether that’s a productivity contest or lying on the sofa, it’s not wrong.

So I suppose the final message is this…

If you’re upset by being made to feel guilty at what you haven’t done, get over yourself. If you are feeling guilty, ask yourself why? What’s so offensive to you, other people celebrating getting things done?

You’ll probably find it only upsets you because you know that there are probably more valuable things you could be doing with the downtime than binge-watching Netflix and eating too much.

May I suggest starting by writing a jobs list and an accomplishments list – it has certainly helped me…

By the way, if you subscribe to the Hoyles Fitness mailing list you’ll receive a free eBook containing 101 Health and Fitness Tips, plus offers and news exclusive to Hoyles Fitness subscribers. Click the image below to download…

free health and fitness ebook

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Owner of Personal Trainer, Father and fitness copy writer. Working hard making the world fitter and healthier!

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