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Productivity and the Pandemic: Why You’re Distracted and What to Do About Them

Productivity and the Pandemic: Why You’re Distracted and What to Do About Them

The coronavirus pandemic has everyone confined to their houses to reduce the rate of transmission. Some of us have the privilege to continue working from the safety of our homes, allowing us to keep a stable income.

But we know that the work-from-home setup is not for everyone. And with the pandemic happening, people are struggling with increased levels of anxiety and stress, which brings down productivity.

The quarantine has disrupted our routines, causing changes that may or may not be good for our physical and mental health. If you’re struggling to stay productive in these trying times, evaluate your daily habits to find out which behavior may be contributing to your slump. 

Here are some lifestyle changes that may be affecting your productivity and concentration.

1. Blurry boundaries between work and personal life

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Working remotely has its perks, but it also comes with several disadvantages. The biggest drawback is the blurry boundary between your personal and professional life. With newfound time on your hands, it’s tempting to knock off just one more task off your to-do list. But before you know it, it’s 10 PM and you’ve been working for 11 hours straight. This unhealthy habit is sure to cause burnout.

Now that you’re confined to your home, it’s more critical than ever to enforce a strict work-from-home routine. Create a workstation, stick to a schedule, and remove distractions to make sure you can clock out on time. 

Switch from “work mode” to “relaxation mode” by having a transition ritual. Think of this short routine as your cool down exercise after working out. Your transition ritual can be as simple as taking a shower, changing your outfit, or clearing up your workspace.

2. Too much screen time

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Since we can’t go out, our phones and laptops are our only leisure. It’s tempting to spend all of your free time binge-watching Netflix Korean dramas and playing video games. This habit can negatively impact your health.

First, too much screen time is bad for your eyes. And this isn’t the best time to rush to a hospital or clinic to get your eyes checked. Second, gadgets are extremely distracting, which can disrupt your concentration during work hours. And third, excessive screen time can dampen brain stimulation

When you’re not working, limit the time you’re spending on your phone and other gadgets. This will help you think more clearly and creatively.

3. Unhealthy sleep habits

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Another side-effect of too much screen time is a wonky sleep pattern. Plus, the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic definitely prevents you from getting good quality sleep.

Prolonged lack of quality sleep can weaken your immune system and impact your mood, making it difficult for you to concentrate. 

Try not to take naps during the day. The work-from-home setup and sustained stress make daytime snoozing tempting, but this can throw off your internal body clock. Prolonged wakefulness with high levels of brain activity during the day will build your sleep drive, making restful slumbers more attainable at night.

Avoid using your phone or laptop before hitting the hay. The hour before bedtime is crucial to getting quality sleep, signaling to your body that it’s time to end the day. Using electronics stimulates the brain, which makes it hard for you to fall asleep.

4. Increased anxiety

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The coronavirus threatens our health, livelihood, and way of life. So we try to monitor the situation by reading and watching news updates about the pandemic. 

But the news can get extremely overwhelming. And between doing our jobs and performing our duties at home, our brain can only do so much. When your attention is constantly on current events, you’ll have a difficult time focusing on anything else.

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Limit your consumption of news, especially social media. Social media is rife with fake news and black propaganda, which will only further overwhelm you. Personally, I read coronavirus updates on Twitter. The limited character count means that the news is delivered in a straightforward manner, which is all that my brain can accommodate right now.

5. Enforced productivity

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

People are saying that you need to make the most out of the community quarantine. After all, you’ll never have as much time on your hands as you do now. But the mindset that you must be working 24/7 is toxic. Forced busyness is not healthy. Enforced productivity can have the opposite effect – it wears you out faster, so you end up not accomplishing anything. 

Here’s a message that everyone needs to hear right now: 

No, you don’t need to clean out your closet. You don’t need to learn a new language. You don’t need to read a multitude of books. You don’t need to work out every single day. You don’t need to work on your baking skills.

You don’t have to do any more than you should be doing. 

We’re in a pandemic; it’s understandable if you’re feeling more than a little lethargic. Strip your to-do list to the most essential tasks. This will help your mind focus on the important things and adjust before moving on to the next. 

Be kind to yourself. 

Use this time to focus on self-improvement. If that means prioritizing your mental health, don’t deprive yourself of the space and time you need to cope during these unprecedented times. 

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