Don’t Tell Me to be Productive.

This is a full-blown rant. Proceed with caution.

Kanza Riaz
3 min readApr 9, 2020
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In a normal world, I am a fairly productive person.

In a normal world I get things done at work and I manage to squeeze in some extra work, inching towards my bigger goals.

In an apocalyptic world, my biggest goal is to make it through the day without breaking down.

In a normal world I read for pleasure, I read at the pace of a book a week and enjoy it.

In an apocalyptic world. I’ve started and abandoned 6 books in 2 weeks unable to focus on any.

In a normal world, I walk 4 kilometres a day, listening to a motivational podcast, thinking at the speed of light.

In an apocalyptic world, walking from one room to another is a chore, struggling to form a coherent thought.

By telling people to be as productive as usual, you’re propagating the idea that you are unaffected by the current crisis. That you are operating at your normal capacity, and the rest of us are weak. Weak for not being able to cope. This idea is making us guilt-trip and pressuring our already maxed-out brains. Your intent although positive, is having the opposite effect.

Our brains are built to reject and fight against change. They are designed to shut off parts of themselves when faced with unfamiliar territory. They operate only partly in the face of danger. They do this to optimise for survival. To optimise for dealing with the present moment, not the next hour, not the next day. Just the present threat.

If you’re able to operate as per usual during unusual circumstances, you are an exception to the rule, and fall under one of the following categories:

1: You have super-human mental capacity so a literal crisis is unable to affect you.

2: You are extremely privileged and sheltered to be unaffected by changing economy, a life-threatening disease and the stress which comes with it.

3: Being productive is absolutely necessary for your survival so your brain is processing that as an essential function and allowing you to that.

You’re lucky, thank your genetics, or your privilege, or the divine powers above. Just be mindful that not everyone else has the same circumstances. We are hardly getting done, what needs to be done. Please don’t tell me to use this ‘extra-time’ and ‘unique opportunity’ to be extra-productive. This is not a vacation. We’re in survival mode.

Productivity is usually centred around goals, and goals are future oriented. What future do I align my goals with? A future with or without my loved ones? A future with or without a job? How do I make myself optimise to all these harrowing possibilities and still be able to produce beyond what’s necessary?

I’m in mourning. I’m mourning the loss of possibility, I’m mourning the loss of the optimistic track that my pre-apocalyptic life had picked up, just like many of my 20-something, millenial friends.

I wasn’t expecting my 20’s to be about survival. I was excited to thrive. I was excited about the future that was taking shape. I am processing shock. I am coping. Let me cope.

There are only a few activities which are helping me cope, mine is perfecting my gol rotis. Do what’s yours and try to preserve your sanity. You will be okay. Peace \m/



Kanza Riaz

Trying to get the hang of life, one day at a time ~Meri saadagi dekh, mein kya chahta hun :’) — Twitter: @RiazKanza