Pressure to be Productive

During quarantine, I’ve heard many describe a feeling of guilt or pressure to do more. This idea that being stuck at home should make us suddenly extremely productive. The idea that we should be working longer hours, accomplishing more tasks and chores, or getting into great shape. While I absolutely applaud the efforts of those looking to “overachieve” during this time, I want to discourage you from feeling like it is necessary, or that what you’re doing isn’t enough.

I recently took the Enneagram personality test, which categorizes you into numbers based on your answers to personality-based questions. I was a 3, which is the Achiever. It was interesting to read about the traits of a type-3, and I was struck by the description of always needing to make lists, cross off items, and plan for the future. All of us have some level of the Achiever personality in us – you may find it difficult to unplug at times, to be satisfied when there are things left to do, or to shut your brain off. This drive, combined with being stuck at home, can make you feel like you’re not accomplishing enough.

I want to tell you that you’re not alone, and that so many are struggling with finding balance during this quarantine. I have friends who’ve lost jobs and are delaying their search for new ones. I know coworkers who are homeschooling their children while also working 8-6PM. I myself have been late to morning meetings (and my commute is from my bed to my desk). We of course want to plan for the future, make more to do lists and cross off items, but it’s OK if we take time for ourselves or time to rest. If there’s nothing pressing, then it’s ok to skip that friend Zoom call, or to close your laptop at 6PM, or to not finish all the books you’ve been wanting to read, or to not try all the new hobbies you had in mind. Maybe this is just me justifying R&R during quarantine, but I don’t feel that in these last few months we had to suddenly become the best version of ourself and figure out our whole life plan.

The late Ravi Zacharias said “Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.” We are all new to this and are just beginning to find our bearings in virtual work, closures, social distancing and in the many more changes in our lives. So please don’t worry about finishing each “to do” and crossing everything off your list ASAP just because we are stuck at home.

We don’t have any control over COVID-19 and its fallout, but we can control how we respond to it. Ecclesiastes 4:6 tells us,             Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and pursuit of the wind. It’s time to adjust our expectations of ourselves – …there is a time for everything, a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecc. 3:1

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