Positively Unproductive

How to achieve (almost) complete positive unproductive existence in a world that has slowed.

A new take on ‘How To’ guidance.

“Strange, what being forced to slow down could do to a person.”

As an incredibly busy person I usually am on the go non-stop and that’s the way I like it! I work hard and produce results from this productivity that inspires me to continue the cycle. In the 21st century this type of person seems to be rushing by us much more often than we would expect. Whether it includes working full time, studying or a full time parents or carer, most people finish the day to continue being productive well into the night. We live for the hustle.

But now the world has stopped.

A pandemic has hit the entire world and for those that like to keep moving, the world seems to have come to a complete and utter halt. Shops are closed, places of work have sent their people home and going outside is to be avoided at all costs. Despite a plethora of day dreams that leave me wishing for a six week break of doing absolutely nothing…this situation has left most busy bees feeling lost and wondering what to do next.

If this sounds like you, this How To guide is for you.

Despite social media attempting to drown me in ‘at home workouts for amazing abs!’ and ‘ways to ensure you do not waste your time inside’, I am attempting to take this time to do exactly what was intended…nothing. Alright not completely nothing, that is not completely possible and definitely very boring. BUT, very little productivity is the aim. Since the age of 14 I have worked alongside school and university, most summers are filled with minimum wages and hair nets so I am utilising this strange and almost unimaginable length of emptiness to give my mind and body a well deserved break. I aim to be unproductive in the most positive way.

Creativity

As a naturally creative person I find this aspect of isolation as the easiest to accomplish and positively pass time. However, let me clarify that creativity does not mean forcing yourself to paint landscapes and write poems on a daily basis. Creativity is found in everything! Find some varying ideas below:

  • Design a new clothing style for yourself! How can you develop your style to more suit your personality?
  • Rearrange your space- Whether this is moving the toaster to the other side of the kitchen or putting up new photos, the opportunities are endless.
  • Create stations in your home. Bare with me on this one. I am lucky enough to be isolated with my housemate and together we have created different stations in the house to visit when we feel like it. A reading corner with lights and a selection of books we are sharing, A self-care corner where we now keep our makeup and skin care products with lots of cosy blankets. You get the gist. Experiment! See what you can collect.
  • Learn a routine: As TikTok seems to take over the world, the more I have noticed people learning dance routines. This is a fantastic way to express yourself in a physical way and can provide interaction with people outside your place of isolation.

The list is endless really. The best way to address this aspect of (un)productivity is to try out all of them! See what you can come up with and I am certain you will surprise yourself at how creative you can be when you aren’t trying so hard to achieve.

Care for your space

Another great way to find value in doing nothing is to care for the space you are in. Although this situation is not by choice, we can choose to create a space that is more positive for us. Here are some examples of how:

  • Plant something! If you are lucky enough to have some outdoor space then a great way to use this is to plant something new. This idea is inspired by my Nan. Over a video call last week she told me that she had cut open a tomato, planted half in some compost in a pot and it is now sprouting into a tomato plant! What better way to add value to your space than to create life?
  • Add light: one of the most significant changes to your day include how much daylight you see. Obviously this can vary on your situation but it is so important to try and get just ten minutes of daylight a day. Wake up, open your curtains and soak up some sunshine when you can. It will make such a different to your day I promise you.
  • Take notice of nature: Despite everyone being stuck indoors, there is still so much going on outside. The trees are regrowing their leaves, flowers are blossoming and the birds are making nests ready to lay their eggs. See what you can find. Take note of the life going on outside of human nature. The world is much bigger than just us.
  • Keep your space clean: This is essential. Where this means depends on the person but whether this is your desk, your bedroom, your house or your bed, keep it clean and tidy. Waking up and making my bed every day is the best decision I make in that moment. It sets me up for a positive and clearer mind and space.

Try something new

This is my favourite task currently. Trying something new that you would NEVER have tried without this situation. Something you will most likely never really need. Something not productive. Something for FUN! Here are some fun ideas to try:

  • Learn a new language: Whether it be practising a language you learnt at GCSE level a lifetime ago, or an entire new language, you will surprise yourself with what you can learn. Duolingo is a saint.
  • A new move: As a passionate yogi (someone who does yoga) I am starting to test myself to try new insanely cool poses (crow pose and crane pose) that I would never usually have the time to build up to. I am no way near there yet…but when I manage it I will let you know.
  • Fire Poi: Alright this is a strange one. My dark horse housemates Hester has a hidden talent of Fire Poi (look it up). Despite the lack of fire involved when I try it, she is teaching me Poi in the garden and I can guarantee I never would have learnt this skill otherwise!
  • Computer skills: My partner (@karliskah) has used Photoshop basically non-stop since I have known him and it still baffles me to watch him turn a blank grid of a screen into 3D turning face with graphics. How does this work? I have no clue, but I intend to find out and give it a go.

Mindfulness

Anyone who knows me well enough will know I am a huge fan of mindfulness. By no means does this mean I meditate for hours a day and believe in the 8 fold path…BUT I do believe that regularly practising mindfulness can add to anyone’s life and promotes a more positive mental well-being. Here are some simple ways to get started:

  • Senses awareness: My favourite thing to do when I am outside! Make a mental note for yourself- 5 things you can see? 4 you can feel? 3 you can hear? 2 you can smell? 1 you can taste? Just spending these two minutes brings grounding to the moment and reminds you to live in the present a little more.
  • Journal: Whatever this means to you is right. Whether this is writing a daily diary, creating a one second a day (check the app) or quickly jotting down how you feel each day, this awareness of your mind is healthy and worth while without doing anything productive. (for more on this, check the app Cactus that I use daily).
  • Meditation and Yoga: Awareness of breath and a connection of mind to body provides more than you expect in regard to being mindful. Learn to embrace yourself. Stretch your limbs out, take up space.
  • Reflect: This is a really easy way to practise being more mindful on a daily basis. Reflect on how you feel, an interaction you have had with someone, a decision you have made. Question yourself and learn why you do you that way. Discover how to be your own biggest supporter.

The essential thing to take from this How To guide is to be kind to yourself. Despite what it seems like on social media, this is not a time to push yourself. Give yourself a well earned pause and learn to enjoy it! Any more suggestions are definitely welcome and I send love and safety in this crazy time.

Published by Kiana Stevens

A Teacher based in Cardiff with a background in Literature and Poetry.

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