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How I Stay Productive During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Photo by Minh Pham on Unsplash

Let’s face it — the ongoing pandemic has given us a lot of time to ourselves, to waste time and do the useless things we’ve always wanted to do. But because of this, it’s become even harder to stay productive, keep working, and keep hitting all those deadlines.

As a high school junior, I couldn’t relate more to this. The work just keeps coming and coming. And just when you think you’ve finished it all, there we go again with another boring assignment. Here’s how I’ve managed to stay focused, and get everything done:

Make Lists

I keep one big master list, and every time something new comes up, I just write it down. And every time I finish something, I cross it off the list. This is actually really helpful because crossing something off your list makes you feel like you’ve been productive. You don’t feel like you’ve just been working all day; you’ve actually accomplished something. It’s also extremely satisfying. By writing everything down, I can keep track of the various tasks I have to finish, and I won’t get lost in it.

Prioritize

The first thing I do every day when I wake up is pick the five most important or pressing items on my list and write them down on my whiteboard. I would highly recommend this, especially if you have more than ten items on your master list.

It really helps to organize yourself and plan out your day, and it’s really quick. This way, you get done, at the very least, with the most important items. I prioritize by the deadline, the amount of work that needs to go into the task, and how important it is in comparison to all the other tasks. Usually, things that I’ve been putting off for a while go onto this list because their deadline ends up being much closer (obviously) and I might need to put more effort into them.

Plan

When I prioritize, I usually tell myself that these are the five things I’m going to do today, nothing else. This way, my day ends up being organized, and I can plan everything else around it. If you have trouble focusing on a particular task, I would recommend estimating how much time you’re going to take on each task and allotting time slots in your day to finish them. I do this when I’m on a tight schedule or I’m really anxious, so that I don’t get distracted by more appealing tasks or break for too long.

Organize

You can’t just organize your work and your mind. You have to keep everything organized. So when you wake up, make your bed. Clean off that clutter on your desk. And clean your entire room at least twice a month. It gives you a sense of order, and you might just end up with a huge breakthrough.

Gadgets

Keep yourself away from your phone. Seriously. I know that this seems like an obvious one, but it’s one of the biggest distractors. Don’t try to tell yourself that you won’t use it that much or you’ll put it away after 5 minutes. Just try not to have it in the same room as you.

Especially because of the advent of social media, one glance at your phone can get you hooked. Whether it’s videos on Tiktok, a hack on Youtube, a new post on Instagram, or one of your friends texting you, you’re bound to fall in that trap. Try your best to keep away from your phone while you are working.

This is not to say don’t use your phone. Give yourself breaks throughout the day, and use your phone then. Just remember to put it away and get back to work.

Self Care

It doesn’t occur to most people, but taking breaks and the time to care for yourself is one of the most important components to a productive schedule. By taking a break, you’re allowing yourself and your brain time to rest and refresh. That’s why it’s important to sleep every night, and eat proper meals. What works best for me is to have a schedule. I make sure that I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and two snacks in between. Additionally, I sleep for at least 7 hours, because otherwise I feel really unmotivated the next morning to get back to work.

One of the things I struggle with sometimes is the less “essential” self-care ideas. I almost have to force myself to take a shower everyday, wash my hair at least once a week, and be a bit lazy. This is why I’ve started putting things like “Take a long bath” and “Watch that documentary” on my to-do list. That way, I remember to actually take time out for myself and prioritize these things as well.

Additionally, I think it’s important to maximize productivity, which means stopping after you get to a certain point. So, when I set out my five or six things to do for the day, I make sure I don’t do anything else that day, and if time remains, I use it to maybe watch some Netflix or take a bubble bath, or do something that I don’t consider work.

Balance

It’s important not to go to extremes. Don’t try to be extremely productive and work for 18 hours a day. And don’t be extremely lazy the next day and sleep all day. Find your balance. I can’t give you a perfect number because it’s different for everybody. Learn to push yourself, but not too hard. For all the tips I’ve given you, remember not to take them too far.

Stay Connected

Don’t disconnect from the world. Please. That doesn’t help, and during these times, it’s important to stay in touch with your friends, make sure everyone’s doing well, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Keep up with what’s happening around the world.

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

Lastly, I’d like to stress that it’s so important not to expect yourself to be perfect. You will make mistakes. You may miss a deadline. You might not be the best at everything. And that’s okay. You do not need to be perfect.


How I Stay Productive During the Coronavirus Pandemic was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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