Are People Using Productivity to Escape Pandemic Anxiety?


The number of blogs, influencers, artists and productivity culture, as a whole, has gone way up in the past two months. Have we become productive due to the excess of free time on our hands, or have we caved into productivity culture, intangibly competing against one another for the amount of content that we can produce.

Productivity culture is, as the term suggests, a mindset and lifestyle that supports excessive productivity, usually at the cost of mental health. It’s when you keep overworking in an attempt to satisfy some nonexistent being that you are being productive, and not just whiling away your time. Productivity guilt and productivity culture usually go hand in hand. Productivity guilt is when you start feeling guilty for resting and not getting any work done, usually because of burnout.

The right amount of productivity that stems in us when we have time is great. But this ‘right amount’ is extremely subjective in nature. For some might work well in gaps, while the other might work well with lump sums. It’s doesn’t negate anyone’s productivity, that is, we cannot say that this person is being more productive than the other, because in the end, they’re doing what they’re comfortable with.

Indian culture is somewhat to blame for this competitive environment. In a way it’s great to push our individual limits, but are we doing it just because we feel guilty seeing others do it more? We often feel like it’s a train, and it’s going to leave us behind if we don’t overwork. However, we often forget the impact our deteriorating mental health will have, on us and our work, in the long run.

A lot of people have admitted that they feel tired, detached and just out of ideas, in this lockdown. They also admitted to feeling incompetent and having a sort of inferiority complex, seeing other people create, make blogs, cook, and just do stuff. Social media has a very crucial hand in this productivity culture. It shows us the best parts of people’s lives and makes us feel that the grass is always greener and shinier on the other side.

The interesting part is that the creators who have doubled their work, feel a kind of pressure to keep it the same way. They start feeling guilty for taking a rest day, or not creating content for a couple of days. A lot of people have confessed that their mental health has been in shambles since this has begun. Why do we indulge in this behaviour even though we know, in our minds, that this isn’t how productivity works?

The most common result to this guilt induced productivity is taking on things, indulging in them for a couple of days or a week, and then just ignoring it. If we only take up something to prove to people that we aren’t lazy, the end result is going to be us abandoning whatever we started.

This culture mostly initiated due to a very problematic post by Jeremy Haynes, which said,
‘If you don’t come out with a new skill’
2) starting what you’ve been putting off, like a new business,
3) more knowledge,
You didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked the discipline.”

This, according to HR experts, is completely false. There is a lot that goes into doing stuff, than just discipline. Especially in a stressful and anxiety inducing situation like Covid-19, there’s a lot going on in our minds than just trying to be more productive. Experts believe that we’re using this facade of productivity as an almost escapist mechanism against the anxiety that were facing.

In a time like this, mental health care is way more important than any productivity contest. Taking care of yourself and finding healthy outlets to let out the stress and anxiety of the pandemic, home, and work environment. In case you feel the need to reach out to someone, you should seek professional help, there are helplines available for psychiatrists and psychologists amid the lockdown.

By Yukta baid

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