Patrick Barry ’21, Staff Writer

Source: Unspash

The pandemic has caused everyone to rethink their schedules now that we are all spending more time than usual in our homes. Having struggled with this very thing, I knew that I needed to take action to keep time from slipping between my fingers. Here are several tips that I’d like to share to help you maintain a consistent level of productivity despite how drastically our lives have been changed by the pandemic.

First of all, try envisioning the extra time you have at home as an opportunity to explore new interests or hobbies. If you find yourself with more time than you normally have, perhaps it would be a good idea to put it into something productive so that when you end up seeing your friends again, you can return as a new individual and show off your new skill. I for one have been working on short stories, learning to play an instrument, the ocarina, improving my graphic design skills, and practicing yoga. However, you do not solely have to devote this time to developing new skills. Perhaps now is a good opportunity to reintroduce an old activity in your life that once brought you joy. Maybe it is something you had to drop once because of all the responsibilities that came before the massive change the pandemic brought. I stopped reading fiction for a while because of all the reading responsibilities that college introduced into my life. Now, I make a point of reading something solely for myself before I go to bed, and doing this makes me more satisfied when I return to the assigned readings knowing I still have the opportunity to sit down and do something for myself.

Now that you have your activity, try to incorporate a weekly schedule. Every week, make a few points of what you want to accomplish over the course of each day. If you micromanage your time too much, like me, you might end up burning yourself out. I know that when I try to cram activities into every minute of the day, I did not leave myself with much time to transition between activities, and I became frustrated when I started doing them out of order and had to drop some activities completely.

Additionally, include goals at the end of the week. This is especially important if the new hobby you picked up is a long-term project such as writing a novella, or whatever else you chose. With long-term goals, it is easy to become frustrated because of the seeming lack of progress. I often attribute this to money. While saving for long-term goals is important, thinking about short-term goals can provide feelings of immediate satisfaction we do not get with long-term goals. Waiting is hard, and it can be even harder when you cannot see the progress you are making and find yourself slipping back into that unproductive mode. Keeping weekly goals can tell that you are making progress even if the hobby you chose does not bear fruit immediately.

Changing your workplace can be vital especially if you are in the creative arts. I personally find that if I move where I write occasionally, I can be struck with new bursts of inspiration and motivation. Working at the same place at the same time every single day is especially taxing to me especially because I personally struggle with sitting and doing the same exact thing for six hours in a row. Eventually, I do end up doing around six hours of writing and editing in a day, but I need to break that time into smaller chunks, at least two three-hour sessions if it’s writing, to meet that goal. It is important for you to understand yourself and know if you are someone who can commit yourself to one task for longer spans of time or if you enjoy moving your workplace and tasks at a more flexible pace. Do not allow the pandemic to dictate a single place where you work. While there are certain limitations on socializing, that doesn’t mean you cannot go outside and take your work with you assuming it can be physically taken with you. If you have a greater freedom of time now, do not forget to employ a freedom of space as well.

This might sound counterintuitive, but having a certain level of stress can be beneficial to making sure you actually get your goals done. There is a reason we have deadlines on college assignments: to keep us from waiting until the end of the year to get everything done. So why don’t we hold ourselves to the same standards with our personal projects? For myself, it feels like less of a motivator knowing that any deadlines I make are self-imposed expectations, but maybe that’s when you should try contacting some friends. If you are working on a short story or a piece of artwork, maybe you can tell them about it, and assure them it will be done the next time you see them. That way, you were holding yourself accountable if you do not end up completing that goal. However, if you do not end up meeting that goal despite working assiduously, it is important not to succumb to stress. Stress should be a motivator, but when used in combination with unrealistic expectations, it will only end up discouraging you.

The ultimate goal when incorporating all of these tips is to try and make yourself more productive rather than becoming a hyper-efficient robot, though I wish I were some days. The point is to improve yourself, but if you find that you are only becoming more stressed, perhaps you should slow down. Maybe incorporate one or two of these tips at a time, and I guarantee that you will become more productive. Hey, it worked for me.