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January 29, 2021, by UoN School of English

Pandemics and Prejudice: How to combat toxic productivity during lockdown

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an individual, experiencing the third lockdown of the year, must make the most of it, Right? I disagree. Whilst it appears that everyone according to your Instagram is learning new skills, getting ALL their university work done and maintaining a strict home workout schedule, I can state this is not realistic nor the ideal.

If we are speaking specifically as English students, there seems even more pressure and judgement to be reading the entire works of classical authors alongside all of our degree work. We are expected to read and write like Jane Austen when in reality most of us are, instead, binge-watching Bridgerton in 24hours (not speaking from my own experience of course…). Before I out my lockdown pursuits any further I want to make it clear that to be your best self, both academically and mentally, you need balance. A pandemic is not the time to be judged on your productivity but rather a stressful time which ensures you to need to take a break every so often. As deadlines for coursework and exams are around the corner, it is even more crucial that we try not to drown ourselves in essay writing. This can seem difficult when you feel like everyone around you is constantly being productive.

Recently, feeling frequently condemned by my driven flatmates, I casually brought up work ethics and, to my surprise, realised how similarly we all felt. All of us perceived each other to be constantly working and realised we had negatively created a cycle of toxic productivity. A cycle which was driven by the need to appear constantly busy. Social media acts as a wider version of this also, with influencer culture suggesting we must all be billionaires by twenty-five. I provide here a voice of reason. Don’t let your university friends or social media dictate you into thinking you need to work 24/7 to obtain a first. It isn’t necessary and, if you allow yourself an afternoon or a few days off, you will likely find yourself not only happier, but producing higher quality work. Productivity is not about doing as much work as possible but working smartly. Through a pandemic this is more important than ever, and I hope everyone allows themselves a break, as gosh don’t we all deserve one?

Jessica Page is an English student at the University of Nottingham.

Image credit: Artem Kovalev
Posted in Student WordsTips/Advice/Guidance