There is no need to be more productive during a global pandemic

Social distancing. Self-quarantines. Lockdowns. There has never been a more uprooting period of isolation and nothingness. This lifestyle, of course, is a sharp contrast to the average busy college student. For USC students used to tight schedules with classes, club meetings, endless library hours and socially packed weekends, this is foreign territory. With the arrival of the current pandemic, many have been thrust into a situation where their schedule may be clear, but they are still expected to maintain a level of productivity for classes and extracurriculars while also finding ways to fill those now-free gaps.

For many, though, these are stressful and anxiety-inducing times that aren’t optimal for productivity. Students have had to return to homes where they may not have an environment, let alone the resources, for success. They may need to lend a hand around the house if parents are still required to work, or they may even work themselves to help out. Regardless of the reason, USC students should take advantage of the pass/no pass or no record policy to alleviate anxieties if they need to — without feeling guilty. 

With social media use heightening as students quarantine, there are constant updates on what everyone else is doing. Push-up challenges, creative projects, workout videos and more — there is endless insight into exactly how others are passing time. For those who don’t or can’t thrive during upsetting circumstances such as a global pandemic, this exposure may create or reinforce unnecessary guilt.

The coronavirus crisis should put things into perspective. It has made health a top priority, and rightfully so. Instead of sustaining their usual busy schedules, students should take this time to take care of themselves in whatever form helps them and prioritize what’s important for them. Whether this is through using USC’s helpful new grading policies, spending time with family, making TikTok videos or doing absolutely nothing, it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t have to be productive. 

This goes for those who are continuing to find new ways to be constructive with their newly acquired free time. This is not a waste — if homemade workout routines and passion projects help students, then they should continue to do them. If students can use focusing on academics as a way to create needed order in their home lives, then, by all means, they should do this. The point is simply that there should be no guilt or judgment associated with how people choose to spend their time, especially during a pandemic. 

Students are constantly expected to work toward a goal. School is often prioritized above health, both mental and physical. This constant self-improvement mentality has been drilled into us. As this virus entirely uproots this outlook and puts the world on pause, students who can should see this as a break. 

It might even help provide some much-needed change in the way productivity and success are viewed on college campuses. But for now, everyone should stay healthy, do whatever it is they need to take care of themselves and, above all else, not feel guilty if that entails doing absolutely nothing.