Adapting,  Balance

Dealing with Lockdown Productivity Frustrations

Dear Mary,

It seems like people are getting lots of stuff done while they are at home these days, whether it be work stuff or other things that they have on their to do list or new projects they have just started. At the same time, you might find that you are not able to get everything you want to get done and are frustrated that you are not as productive as other people are. On our Sincerely, Spain team Claudia is the resident workaholic and even though she is trying to be productive every day, we have been talking about how what people share is not always as it seems.

That is why we want you to take a step back from how you think you are in comparison to other people and gain a bit of perspective on what you are trying to get done. With the three tips we share below, you might find that you are not as astray from your goals as you might think. You might also begin to realize that there is no point in living the same life as someone else appears to be living because, even if things are as they seem for the other person, that is a life that probably won’t satisfy you as you would like.

While these tips may seem like common sense, take time to reflect on them before getting frustrated by your lockdown productivity (or what feels like a lack of productivity).


1.) Evaluate and reevaluate what you are trying to get done

Many people are finding themselves in a time when they have more time than ever before, but many others barely have time to sit down and rest. It may seem silly, but before you begin to compare yourself to anyone else, consider what you are trying to get done and why you are trying to do it. For example, you might be working on many small projects or one big project. You may be focusing on your mental health or the wellbeing of your family. However, wherever you are, focus on your own situation before comparing it to that of anyone else.

Once you have evaluated your own, personal situation and the projects you are proposing for yourself, reevaluate them. Really think about what you are working on (or would like to be working on) and how that impacts your life. Consider the time inversion vs the overall benefits that you hope to see long term. Invest in projects that contribute to your growth in the long term. Here, what we would like you to focus on is what would truly be beneficial to your life in future, not just now.

Productivity frustrations during lockdown.For some people, now is the time to learn a new language, so you might see people posting about language learning on social media. No matter how much we love language learning, if you see no long term benefits in dedicating yourself to what we consider to be a difficult task, think about what other projects might serve you better. Maybe now is the time to connect to your inner artist and what you really want to do is paint for a couple of hours every week. Or maybe what you need is 8 minutes meditation daily to disconnect from everything else around you. If you are missing sports, maybe what you really want to do is sign up and train for a marathon.

No matter what you decide, please do not compare your situation to that of anyone else because it is unique to you. Remember, how you decide to fill the free time that you have during the lockdown is entirely up to your needs, wants, and desires. We cannot stress enough how important it is for you to focus on how you can improve your own situation as opposed to trying to live someone else’s life to their standards.


2.) Find time for you

Although it may seem counterintuitive, making sure you are feeling your best is really important when you finally sit down to get work done. This is because if you try to pump out work and results when you are tired and down, you will probably get a bit frustrated with how slow things are moving. We get it, sometimes you just have to buckle down and get something done, but most of the time you have a lot more time and energy flexibility than you might think.

Dealing with Lockdown Productivity Frustrations

That is why our second tip for being productive is to spend some time taking care of yourself, especially in these uncertain times. For some of us, this might mean reading a new book (we are a bit obsessed with this one right now) or taking time to catch up on a t.v. series that you love. For other people, they find relaxation and purpose in cooking, something that we can totally get behind considering how important the Mediterranean diet is in Spain. Still other people need to do some sort of physical activity to feel like they are taking care of themselves and will want to go for runs or do strength training.

Regardless of the way you decide to find time for yourself, we would highly recommend disconnecting from social media for a while. While we love connecting with loved ones, it is very easy to erroneously compare situations and think that you are “doing worse” than other people in your life. We believe that this is simply not true and that by spending time with yourself (and partner or family) where you are right now helps gain perspective on that

If all goes well, by spending some time yourself, you will probably find additional energy to work on important tasks or insights that some tasks were not as important as you initially thought. There is nothing better than coming back to a frustrating task reenergized—from a good cup of coffee, a nap, a run, a good stretch, etc.—and pushing through a difficult bit to the other side. And we find that we can manage to get through the hard bits a little bit easier if we just make time for ourselves.


3.) Be patient and kind with yourself

Our third and final tip is to be patient with the whole situation but, especially, with yourself and how you find yourself reacting to different things happening around you. Once you have evaluated and reevaluated what you are trying to do, and after you have made time for yourself to rest and grow, you might find that you are still not advancing as much as you would like. Trust us, we know the feeling, right now, we are both working to accomplish different goals that feel like they are far away some days. However, we are practicing consistency in showing up for ourselves, both on our projects but also when it comes to self care.

Treat yourself like you would treat your best friendOne thing that we have talked about often over the years (because patience with yourself is something that you should always be working on) is how you should reflect on how you talk to yourself in certain situations. Both Dani and Claudia have fallen into the trap of negative self-talk and we have come to the conclusion that you should talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend. Sure, that might mean you are serious sometimes because your best friend deserves your honest opinion and the truth. However, this also means that you are loving and caring with yourself, and are patient with your own progress.

At the end of the day (or week, or month), we believe that patience is key to achieving your dreams and your goals. It is rare that something magical happens overnight without years of preparation behind it. That is why we believe that taking your time to figure out what you want and working on it consistently—while peppering in time for self-care—is the best way to achieve your goals.


What are we working on right now?

While these are not our only goals over the next few months, they are things that we have decided to work on and can find frustrating at times. We also included some of our tips to push through the hard moments.

Dani stopped teaching at the beginning of the year and decided to pursue a career as a full-time writer. While it fits perfectly with working from home, it means that now more than ever she is in charge of her own schedule and has to make time and space for her dreams. To push herself, Dani is signing up for different writing challenges to push herself out of her comfort zone.

Claudia has decided that she wants to give learning Finnish a proper go and is dedicating time daily (or almost daily) to studying a little bit of this complex language. While she has taken control of the experience, she often feels lost and like giving up. That is why Claudia asked her friend to be an accountability partner to help her stay on track even when the going gets rough.

What are you working on right now? Let us know in the comments!


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