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  • Urooj Syed

Psychology of Productivity: Working and Learning Online During a Pandemic

The concept of productivity and how to quantify it varies from person to person. Things such as an individual’s motivation, personality, talent, education, environment, and time management all contribute to one’s productivity. According to Psychology Today: “Productivity hinges on mental energy, a sense of motivation, alertness and buoyancy. It often emerges naturally from work that one finds inherently meaningful or valuable.” However, should productivity surround only ideas of employment and schooling, or is a day of rest just as ‘productive’ as one full of satisfying deadlines?

Our culture has made significant strides towards creating an all-inclusive environment where all facets of diversity can thrive. However, while remarkable advances have enabled humanity to become connected like never before, the endless demand for instant gratification has begun to create an unbearably fast-paced civilization, with no signs of slowing down. With direct communication between employer and employee now possible without concern for neither place nor time, the notion of ‘clocking in’ is becoming increasingly obsolete—’clocking out’ a now implausible practice. In such a rapid environment, it's natural to believe that extreme productivity is expected and anything less being unacceptable.

As a result, is it any wonder that the youth of today are more stressed than at any other point in history? One need not look further than the COVID-19 pandemic; should such an adversity have occurred at the turn of the century, schooling would have been cancelled indefinitely. Instead, online education is seemingly more demanding than physical attendance would be, with an endless barrage of assignments crowding already-overflowing inboxes. While technological achievements have prevented a complete shutdown, another point of view would suggest that the burdens of schooling have escaped the confines of the classroom and invaded the privacy of homes worldwide. Whereas before one could have used their household to disconnect and decompress, that is stripped away when home becomes yet another workplace.

Emotions play a significant role on our productivity levels, and with online learning, there is a prevalent subconscious resistance. Students no longer feel as though they are gaining knowledge, and are instead merely struggling to meet deadlines. This can allow negative emotions, and with that the concept of procrastination to creep into our schedules. With work constantly building up, and having less and less time to complete it, we may start to avoid the tasks at hand. The tasks may seem boring, seem like too much or we may fear the possibility of failure. Instead, we choose to do anything but that, leading to feelings such as guilt and more stress, until we’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of negative emotions.

Learning how to balance a busy schedule, while still being able to detach and decompress from one’s responsibilities may seem like an impossible task, however here are some strategies to help increase your productivity:

· Creating a schedule for tasks that need to be completed

· Taking frequent breaks in between intense focusing

· Changing your surroundings frequently

· Minimizing interruptions/distractions

· Allowing time to unwind and relax


Veksler, E. (2020, January 01). 5 psychology-tested methods to increase your productivity. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from

What Is Productivity. (n.d.). Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time. (n.d.). Retrieved December 09, 2020, from


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