Tips to Overcome Productivity Guilt during the COVID Outbreak

Alessandra Arpon


Trust that your mind can adapt to its surroundings. Take one day at a time. Allow your mind to adjust and believe that things will subside and fall into place. It is okay not be at your best right now. It is okay not to feel okay.

The unprecedented lockdown caused a major change in our work environment and routine. You may be at the comfort of your own home right now having this feeling that you have all the time in the world to accomplish your tasks. The thoughts of having to do something is irresistible, right? But for unknown reason, your drive is no longer there. Chances are, you feel guilty over the fact that you are less productive compared to how you used to be. 

During these times, what you are going through is normal. NO GUILT is a set of practical tips to minimize your productivity guilt:

Photo by Tim Samuel

ormalize your experience.
pen-up yourself to wide range of emotions.  
ive yourself permission to take a break.
plift your spirit by recognizing your achievements every day.
 I mperfection is understandable.
ook at your own progress.
reat yourself as if you are your own best friend.

Let’s explore them all in more depth:

Photo by Peter Olexa


Are you having difficulty sustaining your focus? Are you putting off your work? Do you feel less motivated to complete your tasks? You may feel like you are not being your best self right now, but what you are feeling is actually normal. The world is dealing with coronavirus pandemic. With all the changes that is happening around the world, it is inevitable for your mind to feel overwhelmed. When the mind is preoccupied with several things all at the same time, it can tax its capacity to function at its optimal level. 

Trust that your mind can adapt to its surroundings. Take one day at a time. Allow your mind to adjust and believe that things will subside and fall into place. It is okay not be at your best right now. It is okay not to feel okay.



Facing this pandemic can give rise to a lot of negative emotions. No matter how uncomfortable they may seem, always remember that emotions come and go. Their main purpose is to give you information about yourself and your surroundings. It can be tempting to drive these negative emotions away, but the more you deny or compete with them, the more they become powerful in getting your attention. 

Treat negative emotions like a child who is throwing tantrums, they become calm when they get recognized. 

Always remember that negative emotions are not the only emotions that we are wired to feel. Allow yourself to experience other emotions by modifying what you think and how you act.



Setting agenda, creating a schedule, and following a routine can give you a sense of control and direction. But if you feel like you are losing track of all of these, give yourself a permission to take a break. Use your break for relaxation (e.g. mindfulness) or for attending to your other priorities in life (e.g. spending quality time with family). Having a break can give you a boost of positive emotions, reframe your perspective, and rejuvenate your energy. It is important that you are equipped with energy so you can adhere to your plans and get more things done. Contrary to what is commonly believed in, giving yourself a time to pause and relax is not a sign of being lazy, but rather, a way for you to get even more productive.



Set goals and celebrate your everyday achievements no matter how small they may seem (e.g. getting up early). Fostering your sense of accomplishments can make you feel good and make you inspired to do more work.



Demanding for perfection can only make a task anxiety provoking. Tasks that may seem difficult to achieve are often being put off. 

Take comfort in the idea that sometimes, delivering the necessary and sufficient output is more than enough. 

Our mind can function at its best if it receives the right amount of stress. Remember that you are already going through a lot. Lessen your sources of stress by turning off your own critical voice.



If there is one thing common among us, that is we are all affected by the global outbreak. Other than that, our life situations, resources, and manner of coping differ in various ways. There are people who can easily bounce back and resume to their old patterns. While there are some who suddenly overextend and keep themselves occupied in order to evade the discomfort brought about by the new situation. 

It is normal to feel pressured when you see people on their social media posting their activities and showing off how productive they are. But our ability to survive and thrive in this new situation should never be a competition. Just like them, you can find your own unique ways in getting through this. You just have to trust your own process. 

The distance that we have from others today is an opportunity for us to get closer to our own self. Focus on your own priorities, progress, and internal change.



It becomes a struggle not to be busy if your self-worth is anchored on having a tight schedule, juggling multiple tasks, and achieving several goals all at once. Having this attitude towards your work is a contributor to the guilt feeling that you develop when you take a break or when you start to take things slow. 

Do yourself a favor and be kind to yourself. Be your own best friend. You will not allow your best friend to beat himself up over his work. Do the same thing for yourself.

​*The character stated is not representative of a specific case but a composite of the counselor’s psychotherapy work in dealing with workplace issues.

Feature Photo by Liza Summer




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