Productivity during a Pandemic

COVID-19 has drastically changed our daily routines and working or studying from home can be more difficult than expected. With such a large disruption in routine for every sector, work from home is negatively affecting many people's work-life balance. Individual's find themselves unmotivated, scrambling to meet deadlines, and feeling overwhelmed from trying to balance work, extracurriculars, and increased home duties.

Aside from keeping up with the usual work or school routine, individuals must also assume the responsibilities of caring for children or at-risk family members, navigating the feasibility of constant internet connection, or sustaining friendships and professional relationships. The previous boundaries we used to navigate the different spheres of life become blurry, forcing all of our commitments to take place in one area, our homes.

The old measures of productivity must be reconsidered and become more compassionate towards those who are not adjusting as well as others. In a webinar held by Cornell called Managing Your Wellbeing: Empowering Yourself to Make Healthy Choices During Stressful Moments, Michelle Artibee and Ruth Merle-Doyle emphasize the need for "work-life navigation", as opposed to "work-life balance". Work-life navigation allows for more adaptability, and flexibility. It is unfair for oneself to compare their pre-pandemic work ethic to their current work ethic, as the pandemic has created an unexpected disruption in workflow.

With AMCAS beginning to forward 2021 medical school applications to US schools on Monday June 1st, premeds have the additional stress of writing and submitting their applications. Additionally, with the cancelations of MCATs in March and April, many students are having to also deal with studying simultaneously. Other premeds, like me, need to remember that our mental health needs to be our most important priority. Without it, we are at risk of burning out, becoming less effective, and ultimately hurting our candidacy for medical school.

Artibee and Merle-Doyle suggests reducing previously planned expectations and daily goals, as we must adapt our working styles to reflect this career shock. It is easy to question, "why can't I do this?" without remembering compassion towards yourself and others. Recognize the patterns of your lifestyle, and begin to build a routine around it in order to better maximize the hours of productivity you may have. Additionally, the act of creating spatial boundaries in the home can help with scheduling, and creating the right mindset to get into studying.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that during a pandemic, it is okay to take a step back and detach yourself from stressors. Stay compassionate with yourself, and others until this difficult time passes.

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