Conquering COVIDbrain: Things Blocking Your Productivity and How To Fix Them

IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES. IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES. It’s definitely not just one or the other, right? Quarantine has tested America’s imagination in ways that we never thought possible. And people all around the country are finding creative ways to stay indoors and stay sane, whether that’s experimental baking, gardening, home improvement, self-help, education, or any manner of dreaming and scheming.

The malaise has become even more debilitating with recent civil unrest sparking painful conversations and bringing up personal trauma for many.

At The Handbuilt City, our team compiled five things that might be derailing your productivity these days– and how to get your head back in the game, even if everything else sucks:

  1. Your sleep schedule is wack.

This is a common problem among people who may be experiencing a lack of productivity. A regular sleep schedule is important for cognition and brain function. If you’re waking up at noon every day you may feel like theres no point to getting any work done.  Get your sleep schedule right.

If you’re like Jack here, you’re not only able to sleep in the middle of a floor during a dance party, you’re also able to fall asleep on top of a laptop that your human was just using to do his law homework. Humans, unlike dogs, need more concerted sleep sessions.
  1. Your diet needs work.

Your diet may be suffering during this extended quarantine. Especially as lifestyle changes means we’re not leaving our houses as much, you need to balance this in terms of calorie intake. Diet is, of course, closely linked to mood and energy. It may be the reason you’re either bouncing off the walls– or too tired to get anything done. Make sure you’re getting your three squares a day. Limit your takeout (but remember to support local businesses when you do get takeout!), and start learning how to cook at home. It’s about striking the right balance of protein, fat, high quality carbohydrates (dietary fiber!), and. the right types of foods, too. Cooking is a great release that works both sides of your brain.

Cooking is a great activity either solo or as a household, as we see here from master chef Omar.
  1. You need to manage your distractions better.

As the world collapses around us, we need to find better ways to tune out the noise. But even then, while you may be closed off from the distractions of day to day life, working with your speakers and TV in theater mode at max volume with your favorite show in the background may not be the best way to work.

Take a walk around your neighborhood. Smell the flowers. If there aren’t flowers, find some. Learn to differentiate tradescantia from sisyrinchium. Talk to some squirrels. Shit, I don’t know.
  1. You haven’t actually left the house.

If you haven’t seen the actually light of day, you may want to take a second to step outside and get some fresh air (within reason, of course). Social distancing rules are in place, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a shut-in. Make sure you take a walk outside once in a while. The sun keeps your body healthy, and taking a walk will clear your head of anything that may be causing a block in your work process. The average American gets less than 20 minutes of exercise per day. Shoot for 45 or 60. And, for the less melanated among us, as Baz Luhrmann said– “wear sunscreen.” Now that the weather is finally warm, you have no excuses, pandemic be damned.

Dress Me In My Pajamas, Wrap Me In My Hoodie, And Bury Me With My Memes: The COVID life has involved, for many of us, a depressive process that involves a lot of snuggling up in the comfort of our home, and gazing longingly at our beloved cell phones as we scroll through the eternal Facebook feed, hoping for something redeeming, funny, or cathartic.
  1. You’re taking too may “breaks.”

Those “breaks” you’re taking are having a huge effect on productivity. Small breaks can be distractions like checking Facebook or your ex’s Instagram (like in #3). Cut out larger sections for work and larger sections of time for breaks. That way, instead of leaving and coming back to something you haven’t finished, you can finish one project at a time and then relax knowing that you’ve completed a project– having more time to chill and more time to work productively. There’s a neat little app for this. You grow trees. You could also take breaks to actually grow trees. The world is your oyster.

Remember: It’s okay to not be okay right now. But it’s always good to remember to change it up, challenge yourself, and keep your body and your brain working and working together.

This article was laboriously written as an attempt to bust through writers’ block.

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