Staying Productive During a Pandemic

Over the last few weeks as I have fully transitioned to the stay at home lifestyle, I came to the realization that my life is somehow different, yet exactly the same. I am blessed to have a job that allows me to work from home, so my Monday through Friday still involves work, just in a different environment. I spend much more time on video conferences and have discussions with my wife about who gets access to the office at what times of the day. Initially I was going to the grocery store once a weekend to stock up on supplies, but have now transitioned to grocery delivery to further avoid interaction with other people. My social life is almost entirely digital now, besides walks with the dog and the occasional conversation with my next door neighbors while separated from our joint fence. In reality, I know I have it much easier than most, and haven’t seen a truly drastic change to my health or happiness.

And then, I saw this post online:

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Suddenly I started really thinking about what I’ve been doing the past few weeks- a lot of TV and video games, the occasional virtual happy hour, a movie marathon where my wife and I watched the full Lord of the Rings trilogy… but nothing really of substance. It made me realize that this was a good time to work harder on my board game design ideas that I’ve had in the works. After all, what would be a better opportunity to try and make progress on my games then when I’m inside for most of the day?

It turns out, things are not as simple as just deciding to be productive and doing it. I am at the point of my games where I am constantly trying to tweak and improve the rules, but in order to do so I need people to playtest. I am also starting to work with a graphic designer, but meeting with her virtually wouldn’t be as effective as an in person discussion. I have an idea for a 2 player game which I tried out with my wife- she gave good feedback, but now I don’t have anybody else to get a second opinion from.  The reality of what I am able to accomplish in this environment is completely different than it was before, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.

But the difficulty of logistics in the COVID-19 world is not the only problem, it’s also the difficulty of what the world is going through. It feels like every time I check the news or my social media feed I see more bad news. I tend to be a very positive person, but with everything going on it’s hard to not feel down.

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Mental health is extremely important during this time, and so I have realized that some of the things I have been doing outside of work may not be productive, but they do help me feel better, and that’s important too.

I think that during these times we have to remember that everyone has different things they are dealing with- it’s not as black and white as “you now have more time at home and should use that time productively”. I personally would like to try and be productive when I can, but I have also realized that pressuring myself to do something productive will only cause more stress, and I should focus on things that will make me happy along with things that I want to improve or build on when I am motivated to do so.

If any of you are like me and are trying to balance productivity and entertainment, I hope you are able to find the way that works for you. If you find yourself in a funk or an emotional low, I recommend focusing on yourself and doing what you can to feel better. Stay in contact with loved ones, decompress with hobbies you enjoy, and just simply do what you can, not what you feel like you have to do. Stay safe everyone, and here’s hoping that we turn the corner soon.

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