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Conscious repression of basic needs still reeks privilege, learning is now striking things off  from the quarantine list of goals. A constant fight between the brain and body to burn fuel and start off like never before, productivity is a luxury not all can afford.

Rewinding back a month, when normalcy consisted of running through  day, step wise following our schedules just when your foot hits the ground. The hustle culture has done nothing but pushed boundaries of work and professionalism, where our personal lives, important relationships are on the back foot. But life today, is running in circles. We have stopped, the accelerated hustle culture has hit the breaks and now instead of scheduling meetings in conference room we are doing it on video calls with buffering and cracking of voice, an unusual phenomenon.

This has lead to millennials, the face of the globe, confused as ever because we are in the habit of being in control of everything we do and a virus, which cannot be seen with naked eye has caused a storm in our lives. Contradictory to this, on the opposite side of spectrum is procrastination or in simpler terms ‘taking a break‘.  The universal  motto which was taught to us in school or college and is influenced by westernization, is in fact the core of hustle culture and what majority of us live by is ‘make the best of your timeor ‘being productive is the key to success.’

When was the last time someone asked you to stop being productive and take a day off. Instead what we are told is to be’ always on ‘, to work like it’s the last day, to never stop. Accustomed to such  pressure and social media terming this as’ cool’, we become a slave to this civilization. Productivity by definition is rate at which a person does useful or efficient work. The most common, yet wrong, interpretation of this being juggling between jobs of different genre, multitasking or in layman terms ‘busy’. And when half of the world is on a pause, most of us are questioning the bane of our existence, productivity far off from our mind yet ‘how do we make ourselves productive’, is the first thought coming to a lot of us these days, which pertaining to the circumstances is concerning however inevitable.

Stop Trying to Be Productive - The New York Times
credits: New York Times

While a lot of are working from home to earn the necessities, there is another lot, the lot which consists of students who are grieving  about a stolen semester, desperate to claim back their college lives and anxious because there is nothing to look ahead, the future currently uncertain  and foggy. On ground level, in such set of conditions, what is productivity to these students? Is it fulfilling the expectations of their parents of not wasting time, the insecurity which arises when they see their friends turning Instagram lives into Master Chef classes or the guilt of not having enough energy to even step out of bed. 

Now more than ever, is the time to realize this combustible nature of us. Our strive to hustle, the constant urge to work and not having enough will power to halt without suffocating our inner selves with guilt and self blame. The repercussions of not stopping are surprisingly on our mental and physical health. We are so close to the threshold, yet we find it difficult to standstill. The idea of taking a day off, self care and catharsis are foreign words to us and the only type of success  that we want  is to maintain our work streak, without heads being turned and reach our goal of being productive. But this being said, the pressure to upkeep  productivity is at the cost of our well-beingA lot of people are facing an existential crisis right now, the current generation is cursing the past one for the lifestyle they were forced to adopt and vice-versa resulting in us literally looking back and scrutinizing all the aspects of our past and ultimately realizing the futility of the hassle, post the lockdown.

And amidst all of this, when for a person even getting out and sitting under the sun is a task, social media is mocking people for not doing enough, Youtube videos motivating to make best of lockdown can be overwhelming. The guilt and shame associated with being idle is too much for people because in the end we are all born different and our coping mechanisms are different too. Comparing the amount of work done by us to someone else’s can lead to even more grief, a sense of hopelessness and a beaten up self esteem and worth. Rather what we crave is some validation, even if we are not being  productive. Because in times like this staying home and staying safe is also another synonym to productivity. And all of this lies in the essence of showing  compassion to your own self, working at a pace you prefer and doing small things which make you happy as even changing perspective requires courage.

Aashita Batra is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.

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Written by Aashita Batra

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