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15 year old Willa George gives us their take on productivity and the Lockdown.

By Willa George

Has March ended yet? This is the question I ask myself each morning, as I blink furiously at my barren calendar (I can even see a tumbleweed scrambling across the bottom).

I’m bewildered as to how it’s September; I’ve become fairly convinced by my theory that everything since March has been a dream. I’m being serious – everything feels like a dream these days. Colours seem diluted, and my head feels like it’s filled with helium, like I’m going to float away.

At first, people kept asking me what I did in lockdown – especially teachers – but now I feel as if there’s a mutual understanding that we both did absolutely nothing and feel equally bad about it. But I hope our endless days in bed, trawling through Tik Tok, have taught us a few things. First of all, that none of us will ever be as cool as our for you page. But also that productivity does not equal happiness.

“I expected myself to get abs and write a revolutionary feminist manifesto in lockdown: all I did was sleep and watch every single Louis Theroux documentary I could get my hands on. And that, to me at least, is success.”

A full schedule is not the same as success. So what you didn’t get dressed – that doesn’t make you a bad person. But it’s drummed into us: every second of every minute of our day must be spent wisely, contributing to our perilous journeys to self-improvement. ‘Successful people get up at 5am’ and ‘every morning I drink a green smoothie, go for a run, and start a revolution before breakfast’; the endless search for the secret to apparent success.

I, too, am a slave to this culture. Endless spreadsheet schedules sit in my computer timed down to the minute, but weren’t realistic and therefore abandoned on the first day, leaving me with that unpleasant, sinking guilt of a wasted day. You know the kind: the ‘Tik Tok just swallowed up 2 hours of my day that I’ll never get back’, or ‘I swear my alarm just didn’t go off’ when you know full well that you ignored it.

Our abusive relationship with to-do lists cannot continue if we are to combat COVID-19, and prevent more unnecessary deaths. The symptoms of the disease are so varied and new, and can range from headaches, lack of smell, stomach upsets and coughing to nothing at all. This winter, if you think you ‘just have a cold’ and drag yourself into work or school, you may be doing more harm than good. I could go on and on about how more testing is needed, and how this productivity obsession is symptomatic of a damaging capitalistic society, but I’d rather not bore you with the details.

There are many people coming out with their revolutionary new visions of post-coronavirus life, where we address the climate crisis, grow more compassion and drink enough water. Personally, I have no expectations. I expected myself to get abs and write a revolutionary feminist manifesto in lockdown: all I did was sleep and watch every single Louis Theroux documentary I could get my hands on. And that, to me at least, is success.

 

Willa George; Thursday, 19th March 2020

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