It’s OK to Not Be (Traditionally) Productive

by Emma Blake ’20

Embedded within the majority of Davidson students is a drive for productivity. Whether this takes the form of academics, athletics, political organizing or something else, we as a student body work hard to output the very best in our specific fields and interests. It’s difficult to succeed at Davidson without being productive; it’s part of our lifestyle.

So, what happens when our sense of normalcy is overturned? Will this productivity, so ingrained within us, continue? Is it even fair to expect our motivation to return while we’re adapting to the new normal of life in a pandemic?

During my first week at home in quarantine, I composed a detailed schedule for myself. It involved daily Zoom classes, homework, GRE prep, workouts, reading, and professional development. It’s been about a month now since I outlined that original schedule. Truthfully, it hasn’t stuck. And I’ve started to come to terms with that being okay.

Since the world seemingly turned upside down and people everywhere hunkered down to quarantine and social distance, there has been immense pressure to take advantage of our free time and use it for productive outcomes. As a Davidson student accustomed to partially measuring my worth in academic productivity and success, it’s difficult not to be inundated by a constant internal dialogue telling me I need to write a Spanish paper, run 5 miles, and apply to 2 jobs each day in order to make the best use of my time. But this is not true. There are different kinds of productivity, and it’s more than okay to focus your spare time on what makes you happy, instead of what makes you feel traditionally productive.

 This is a really difficult time. Some of us are grappling with losing our last semester at Davidson or our opportunity to study abroad. Others are adjusting to life in a home environment that might not be healthy or safe. I’ve found that sometimes the most “productive” things we can do are activities that bring us peace or make us laugh. Yes, try your best to keep up with online classes and assignments, but recognize that it’s also okay to use your time to bake banana bread or bagels, binge watch The Office, and FaceTime your friends. We’re Davidson students and I’m confident that we will regain our motivation and academic productivity soon – as I said before, it’s embedded within us. For right now though, it’s okay to use our time to do whatever makes us feel happiest and healthiest.

A large doughnut on a plate

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Some homemade bagels! There’s a quick and easy recipe here:

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