It has been all too ubiquitous to see people excelling in their work and personal lives on social media. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have plenty of friends and colleagues who tell me how much they are getting done while working from home. Their commute is gone, they can work through lunch, and there are less distractions than they faced in their old offices.
It sounds too good to be true! Maybe that’s because it is, at least for many of us.
An increase in work productivity is in no doubt true for some people. And while everyone is different, most people who are in this triumphant situation are likely single or without the major responsibilities of caring for children or elderly loved ones.
But what about people who do not have any major life responsibilities who aren’t crushing it? What about the millions of people who are struggling to be productive at work, while not having any major distractions? If this is you, I have an important message to deliver: It’s okay, it’s normal, and it’s completely understandable.
It is this group that I want to focus on. While on the surface, it looks like they may be in prime position to succeed during the pandemic. No distractions or burdens equals high productivity at work and in life, right? Not necessarily.
Make no mistake: we are not working from home during a pandemic. Instead, we are all living through a pandemic, and trying to work from home.
The difference may be subtle on paper, but it’s extraordinary when experienced. If you come out of this pandemic without having learned a new skill, gone on a new diet and exercise plan, or earned a new promotion, that is completely normal behavior – join the club!
For everyone who is on either side of this spectrum during the pandemic, the key takeaway is the same: we need to accept this reality, and be perfectly okay with it.
So whether you are struggling through the pandemic or not, understand that millions of people are having this shared experience. Understand that it’s okay if you just spent that last three hours, mindlessly playing solitaire on the computer. It’s also okay if you just crushed a report for work but your coworker didn’t help much because they were having a tough day. There’s no need to get down on yourself or others for this behavior – empathy instead, is the right response.
In the end, we should all give each other a lot more slack, starting with ourselves.