It Is Okay to Not Be Productive During COVID-19 Down Time

It Is Okay to Not Be Productive During COVID-19 Down Time

Naturally, the photography industry has greatly suffered during the pandemic, and many of us have found ourselves at home, dealing with job cancellations and empty client books. But, just because you have suddenly acquired valuable time on your hands that you normally would have spent on your business or creative endeavors, it does not mean you need to push yourself into extreme productivity.

You only need to look back at your most recent emails from all the companies or individuals you have subscribed to to start seeing a trend. Productivity and effective time management is being pushed through advice on what to do while you are self-isolating at home with no clients to work with. Whether it is a new webinar to listen to, an online group to join to exchange tips and tricks, a new course to pick up or a tutorial to follow, you will find that it has become the norm to assume that self-employed individuals or small business owners will be using this downtime to work on their skills, learn a new one, or perhaps generate a successful idea or business plan . But, should they?

Everyone's working-from-home situation will be greatly different, depending on if you are by yourself, with a partner, or a bigger family. Some of us have other jobs or businesses alongside photography, while others have had photography or videography as the sole income and business generator. Some of us have partners, housemates, or family members who are not used to working from home alongside us, so it is harmful to assume that we all fit in the same box. It is equally as harmful for us to assume that we need to follow a similar action plan that our friends, acquaintances, or people we follow on the Internet use.

Acer laptop on a bed with a cat and notebooks scattered next to it.

It is okay to work on your business or art, but it is also okay to prioritize health and quality time spent by yourself.

Having said that, many of us will truly benefit from using this downtime to spruce up our business plans, especially the points relating to cancellations and insurance, catch up with work that has been left behind, create new content, or work on other to-do list entries that we have always not had enough time for. However, it also means that many are left coping to care for their family, dealing with demanding health needs, or struggling to maintain normalcy during the newly acquired working-from-home situation. We have found ourselves in an unprecedented situation, and  the majority of us don't have experience in dealing with or responding to this.

When your mind is preoccupied with pressing issues, such as health, food supplies, and life quality, it is inevitable that your productivity as a business person or as a creative will suffer. Just because you might observe others around you using this time to bring out new products, books, services, or creatively using this downtime in their favor, it does not mean you need to follow suit. Your health and that of your family and closest ones is the priority in order to gain back any type of normalcy in the near future, as is damage control of your business. The latter requires a lot of energy and strength already.

Acer laptop with a cup of tea on a desk

We now need to find new ways of living and working that suit our circumstances.

Adding unnecessary stress on top of the already existing issues is the last thing you need for your mental and physical health. Only you can determine how you need to use this time. If anything, this is the perfect time for you to regain any part of selfishness that you may have lost by tirelessly working towards your business or creative projects. This is the time to reconnect with yourself, your own mental health, and your closest ones. This is not the time for you to feel pressured to become a productivity machine that spits out new ideas and projects every day. Use this available free time to strengthen yourself, your relationships, and all your other needs before you jump into new responsibilities or start creating an unrealistic to-do list. Remember, your goal should be to come out stronger through this, not create more obstacles.

Have you felt the pressure to be high performing and productive during self-isolation? How do you cope? Share your experiences below!

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10 Comments

Megan Breukelman's picture

Love this! It's okay to breathe and let yourself feel during this hard time.

Michael Comeau's picture

Frankly, I think it's insane and borderline irresponsible for healthy people to not make the most of this downtime.

Now's the time to build skills and marketing assets that make you more valuable whenever this sh*tshow ends.

Many people went from busy to having way too much time on their hands.

And you don't need to go crazy or spend large amounts of money -- you can learn a lot in just an hour a day on YouTube.

It certainly beats sitting around watching Netflix or playing on Instagram.

Anete Lusina's picture

That is exactly why I said it is fine to use this time to work on your business/creativity but it is also fine to slow down and look after yourself, your family, your health and so on, the main point being that your situation may not be same as someone else's and therefore if you have a lot on your hands as a consequence of this pandemic (maybe health issues, helping community, stressful parenting situation, etc), it's not wise to make yourself feel guilty or bad about not watching tutorials, creating new content, and so forth. :)

Tom Reichner's picture

Insane? Irresponsible?

We do not, by default, have a responsibility to produce a lot and work a lot. That was never any kind of mandate for mankind from the gods.

However, we do have a responsibility to enjoy the things and the people that are around us. That is what we are supposed to do with our lives.

Where did people ever get the idea that we are "supposed to" be ultra-productive and always earning money? Where on earth did such a value system ever come from? That is something that I consider insane and irresponsible.

"Making the most of something" means to enjoy it as much as possible, not to earn as much money as possible. Sheesh!

Tom Reichner's picture

I completely agree with this article.

For some reason I will never understand, working and earning money has attained a very high place in our society's value system. But things were not always this way. In other cultures, and back in history, much more emphasis was placed on enjoying the things and the people that we love.

I think that during the huge economic slowdown, many people will come to realize that they can live, and live well, on far less money than they are accustomed to. People have so many things that they don't really need, all of which cost them a lot of money, and yet in those people's minds, they think that they do need those things. And so they push themselves to work more and more, to keep up with all of the expenses.

I would much rather live with far less, and spend a lot of time enjoying nature, hanging with friends, and pondering the things around me. Having plenty of time to do those things is far more important than being able to get a nicer car, or remodeling my 60 year old bathroom.

Anete Lusina's picture

Thank you for your comment, sir. You hit the nail on its head. We get swept up and away with this idea of squeezing as much as we can in 24 hours, often at a cost of our health and life enjoyment.

You guys take all the time off you want.
I'm going through all my old projects and contacting clients to see if they'd like some fresh new looks from all the video and photos I have on file and I have boatloads of files from decades of shooting...
People are spending money...
Or you could keep binging the latest Netflix shows...

Anete Lusina's picture

That's great to keep working at your business! Some people don't have the luxury of all the free time in the world as they are caring for others, volunteering for health services, homeschooling kids, dealing with (un)employment issues of their spouse, mental and physical health needs, and more :)

Just another day at the office, working for a huge corporation. A lot of the time it kinda sucks, but at times like this I remember why I went this way.
Good luck out there.

Fernando Martell's picture

I think that it's okay to take a pause and make sure your mind is working properly. At the end, we all know that if our body and mind works great, we can indeed create better.
So in my opinion, take enough time to recover from stress and help your mind to focus on yourself; this will help your mental health for sure.

Thank you for this post.