Updated: Aug 28
Twitter - @MarchaeGrair
Get out your phone and scroll social media. No doubt, your feed shows what a “productive” day in isolation looks like – home-made sourdough; alphabetised spice cupboards; at-home gyms; and plentiful herb gardens. It’s entertaining. But for those being entertained while simultaneously eating cornflakes on the couch, pondering how long we can go without washing our hair, it can also be uncomfortable.
You can see this productivity push happening in all kinds of contexts, and for some it starts at work. For example, managers at The Wall Street Journal “suggested” newly remote workers answer chat messages “within just a few minutes” and leave cameras on during videoconference meetings, as if doing so would improve productivity and reduce the temptation to drift off. As one journalist suggests, “The “good worker” during a pandemic is the good worker during any other time: always available to management.”
On the other hand, lots of people are using their time at home to develop new skills. They’re cooking up a storm, they’re completing daily exercise routines, they’re learning new languages, and learning how to cut their own hair. Those are deeply admirable things to be doing – but how did productivity become so, culti-sh?
This mindset is indicative of how pervasive, and potentially damaging to mental health, so called hustle-culture is. The idea that every second of the day must be commodified and focused on what we can gain, that our worth is intrinsically linked to productivity. COVID- 19, meet capitalism.
So, before you prepare a spreadsheet of tasks for the day, let’s take a second to remind ourselves that WE ARE IN A LITERAL PANDEMIC. Everyone on the planet is trying to self-isolate while attending to the needs of family and community. This isn’t business as usual. Put down that novel you’ve been desperate to write for a movement and give yourself time to just ‘be’.