How to be productive in quarantine

How to be productive in quarantine

 How to be productive in quarantine. As I am writing now, the world is in different state. It’s something we haven’t experienced till now. Schools, offices, movie theaters, amusement parks all closed and here we are at home with all time deciding what to do and what not to. We all do want to be productive, utilize this time and learn something new and yet can’t seem to. The very thought of it, the resistance, the frustrations.  So, here I will describe in details what worked for me from trial and errors of all these years, how to do so and continue so that we could start this journey and continue with it. Quarantine or not, I am hopeful it will still work in long run and be helpful to you.

1)  Changing your mindset 
How to be productive in quarantine

Nothing feels stronger than what it is inside your mind and heart, the gravity the resistance of it. We may try and yet end up falling into same patterns. So, the first and foremost thing is to understand the pattern and substitute with another pattern.

Understanding the pattern

a)      All in or nothing at all

We have this all in or nothing at all mindset that is either we are productive or we are lazy. Instead think of yourself as someone who tries, takes rest in between and again tries. Having balance is what we should aim for instead of going towards extreme ends of both spectra.  Someone who works and takes rest in between.  Someone who also finds time for relaxing and for hobbies. Even while being most productive, you might feel tired at times. But you can’t label yourself “lazy” for that instance. Even while being lazy too. Understand the pain and emotions but don’t be quick to call yourself lazy. You can always start from wherever you are and change the outcome. You can always control yourself. So, don’t judge yourself harshly and put yourself a “label” and let it define yourself.  It may feel like a distant thought to you right now but when you have a system and knowledge you can follow through with it.

b)       Not giving power to present

We are often either fixated to what wrongs we did in past or what could go wrong in future. It is good to reflect on mistakes and learn from it but not dwell in them. If we are continuously thinking about past than we are carrying it in present too so decide that today is day I will leave this baggage for it has been so heavy to hold on and start. Maybe you did mess up in past, you couldn’t follow through it, forgive yourself and start so that tomorrow it will be day 2 instead of not even day 1. Even for future too, you can possibly make changes if you start now instead of worrying about it. And we don’t even know what will happen. Maybe something isn’t in our control in future whereas past we don't have any control over. But we have control over present and over us. So, we can start a little from now to path of betterment. From right where you are right now, you can still understand what’s important to you and make efforts to do it.

c)       Fear of stakes

Change is something that makes us afraid even thought of it. But we do know comfort zone is the most uncomfortable place to remain in. So, we can start little rather than going all in and continue with it. We don’t even know what will happen when we get there so it is best not to fear. This time will pass itself.  So instead of finding meaning by saying tomorrow we can start now. Trust that it will be for good and keep going. We have to bid this world goodbye one day. We are already staking our life since we have limited time, so it is better to try than pushing for another day.
Now, we can substitute the pattern with  

a)      Start  (or resume) from wherever you are

This is the most powerful thing that has motivated me. I do fall back time and again here and there but when I tell myself this I again get back on the track. It reminds me there is more to life than to stay in my mind of hopelessness and put whatever I have into actions. Even when there are days when I don’t seem to abide by whatever I have planned, I remind myself I can start and resume wherever I am right now. 

b)      Setting goals

No matter how much motivation and how much your mindset have changed until and unless you decide what you want, it’s hard to achieve it. You will wander aimlessly. That’s why you need to set goals for yourself.  It’s easier for me to say you can be productive but what means productive for one may be different for others. I am a student. My priority is to study what’s I have been designated for the given year, revise and review what I have forgotten. But as I have free time, I want to learn a new language. I also want to incorporate exercise into my daily life. Maybe that’s not your goals. Maybe it’s to focus on health, to learn sketching or dancing, to learn to play new musical instrument or to grow business or to have better communication skills  so you can ask yourself and set what you want to learn, what are areas you want to focus. Once you know what you want, it’s easier to get there.

c)       Not everything at once

Now that we can set for what we are aiming, it’s tempting to try everything, to learn everything at once. So, set what is your priority for short term as well as long term. What resonates to you what feels valuable to you. This principle of “not everything at once” also applies for a particular task, you can study but you can’t watch series at same time.  Focus on one task fully at a time.

d)      Understand it takes time

This is particularly the area that I also do tend to stumble upon. And I do have to remind myself time and again it will take time. Patience and persistence is the key. Understand it will take time. The result won’t show up all at once. In this era of Social Medias, it’s easier to see and feel everyone have it all except ourselves. We feel lacking, we can’t seem to do anything or whatever we are doing doesn’t feel enough. But what we need to understand is whatever we are seeing is just the highlight of someone’s life. We don’t know behind the doors, how much they have worked. How much sweat they have poured, how much sore their backs felt from reading books to achieve the medal that you are seeing. Everything takes time. Understand that it isn’t a week not even a month commitment.  Success is a journey not a destination. So understand it will take time for you to learn, to stick to it and for results to happen.  So don’t give up.  You will learn to enjoy this journey too. Its late but it is never too late to start.

 e)      Yes, you do need to work.

This is the real thing. There is no shortcut. In life we need to suffer to feel the essence of it. Nothing feels as beautiful as fruit of your labor. So understand you do have to pour your sweats onto it and also understand it will be worthwhile. We tend to avoid suffering and then we tend to stay with it for a long time. We should know we do need to suffer. But we also know we have tendency to work too. We can’t seem to stay bored too don’t we? We do want to work too. When we have built system, it is easier to follow through it. There isn’t a shortcut but doesn’t mean all the time and work is going to waste. It will surely build you. Not just what you are doing for the task but your mental strength too.

f)        Start slow

Slow and steady wins the rest.
It’s overwhelming to start big but you don’t have to. You can start very little like 1 min 2 min or 5 min and continue with it and add to it. You will be surprised how much it means on long term.

g)        Start from whatever you have

When there is a will, there is a way.
This quarantine we have limited access to facilities. But it also taught in order to exercise you don’t need gym too. You can always look on youtube and see exercise routine without equipments or simply you can do household chores more. You can move more. If you don’t have books, you can look for pdf. If you want to learn a language, there is in youtube too or there may be apps. If you want to do meditation, simply sit in silence nothing needed at all. Not even internet.

h)      Gather resources like tracking

It’s okay to have help from resources like timer of phone or a tracking app or simply you can track your progress in a paper. This way it motivates us and makes us persistence over due course. It’s okay to manage your time through timer.

i)        Easier when it is in system

Human beings are scientific. So if we try to keep in system it’s easier to follow as I have already said previously too. And it has kept me in tracks. I will describe in next section on how to build it

 j)    The only thing you can control is yourself

Last but not the least, rather than changing environment, the only thing you can control is yourself. This is the most powerful thing we have. You can always change. You can always change your reaction to situation even though it may not be working as you have wanted. That way, we learn to be flexible, work on our goals and live as the life unfolds.

2) Getting done

Now that we have set our mindset for tasks, if we don’t execute it, it’s only a brink moment of motivation. But I will tell you once we have system, we have momentum too. And action definelty is stronger than words.

a)      Planning
How to be productive in quarantine

When we plan we have 100% chances of achieving it.
  (I know it sounds ridiculous but I kept it to emphasize power of planning. Planning is in fact that much powerful) Without plans on achieving the goals, the goal is as good as it is in our mind. After all, we tend to forget what we have decided since mind has limited storage capacity. Planning is always good. Planning can be a hassle but a few minute of sparing can set you in good direction and in good execution. You will be amazed by the difference in your life just by planning.

 But planning for sake of planning doesn’t work. It’s easier and ambitious thing to pack our schedule with works and works but we do know such planning seems to fail. And when planning fails we don’t even bother to plan next time. What works is you have to tailor made it for yourself instead of looking at others. Look at your day. At what time do you wake up normally you can start planning from there instead of ambitiously setting for time you don’t normally wake up. And as much as we want to plan only for tasks please schedule time for breaks too in between tasks as well as when you are not doing tasks also. Schedule time for personal care, family and to relax. Incorporate what you want to learn into your daily life with your daily schedule. You can break the day into 1 hour or 2 hour and fill those gaps of however you used to spend and incorporate or substitute what you want to add with breaks in between. It’s better if we plan what we do usually from when we wake up to sleep. I know planning every moment can be overwhelming but it does guide you. Plan first thing in morning or the previous day or whenever you are free and don’t hesitate to adjust your schedules if something important come in between. Sometimes you can spontaneously plan if you want to do certain tasks.

For any new task you want to initiate, plan the time and what exactly you are going to do. There is a technique called Pomodoro technique that I personally use. In this technique we set a timer for 25 minute and do task for that time. After timer is off, we take 5 min break. And continue for another 25 minute until we reach 2 hours, when we get break of 30 minute. But we can modify it according to our suit. Like it can work for 45 minute work and 15 minute break or 1 hour work and 15 break. Anyway you like.

I now use 1 hour one and sometimes I mix with half an hour one subject then another subject then 15 minute break. Sometimes when I don’t have time, I set timer for 10 or 15 minute also before classes for quick revision. This means, we can be flexible. You don’t need to complete 1 block i.e. 2 hours at once. I will suggest you to start slow and even for break, set timer because break have tendency to extend. You can try whatever that works for you. And plan when you are going to have break. And do have break.

For example I set at 9 am I will sit and read Medicine. But what exactly I am going to read of Medicine I have to specify that while planning. Like I am going to read topic Diabetes Mellitus and set timer and read it for half an hour. It’s better to specify which resource you are studying from and write it down on planner. Now comes another part, I can’t finish that topic in half an hour. Either I can study for another half an hour or continue next day. You can choose what is in priority for you. It works for developing other habit also. Set timer and deadline and do it at that time. And if you couldn’t do that task at that time adjust the time to do that task or move on to what you have plan and adjust the task later.  But don’t keep on putting it off.

Now, for planning I used to plan for a long time in paper but now recently I have shifted to google calendar. So, you can try what works for you.  Start slow. One thing that helps is you can always locate at this time you will do a particular thing. Like at 4 pm, you can set you will exercise for half an hour. Next day, you can do at same time. Maybe things work, things won’t. If you plan to do exercise for 30 minutes a day, you can do either in morning or evening. But do specify time and when time comes set timer and do it. Have   break too. Add variety while planning too. One task for 30 minute another for 30 minute.

 b)      Relocate time for break 
How to be productive in quarantine

Reward yourself after every tasks. Take meaningful break frequently that can relax you other than the task you are doing. Maybe 5 minute break may be less to you. You can extend to 10 minute or 15 minute. But when it is over, do come back to work. Set timer. And plan when to take long break too. It doesn’t mean you have to set timer for task once break is over every time. Patience and persistence play in long run. Don’t rush. Time your pace what works for you. Even half an hour or 1 hour goes a long way.

 c)       Creating routine

I believe in starting from wherever we are. When I first started, I would start learning language right after breakfast. Half an hour some day one hour. You can see in the picture. Later when I started planning as I normally spend my day, I did increase in some tasks. (You can also see the breaks in between, I hadn’t plan during those days that’s why I insisted on planning very much).
Some days I may sleep in more and maybe that will ruin my planning, but I understand I am only human. So, when I wake up, I go to freshen up then wash my face. Then, come to room make bed. Drink water. I feel fresh after that. And then I go and adjust schedule and work for task. This way, I don’t lament on time that is already gone. So creating routine will help.

How to be productive in quarantine

d)      Tracking

How to be productive in quarantine
When I used to plan on papers, I would tick off tasks as soon as I completed. That would track my progress. Since some time, I track my study schedule with app  or with paper. It has greatly helped me putting pomodoro technique along with tracker and to be consistent with app called study bunny. It sets timer and at end you will get coin too as reward. In a month, I know how much I studied and where I spent my time. I can’t go and manipulate days as I want. Subjects are color coded too. So it gives me brief idea of month too. It has been greatly helpful for me. You can do same with same app( not sponsored ad)

e)      Daily implementation

As I told, half an hour even 15 min each day will go a long way. So, keep trying. Realize the effort accumulates.

 f)       Minimize distraction

When you are working for a task, try to focus on that task only. Keep away from scrolling through social media.

3) While you are in midst of it
How to be productive in quarantine

a)  Some days things won’t be as planned

We should also keep in mind that everything isn’t in our control. It has always been that way and it will too. I know its sounds contradicting but you aren’t in control of everything. Some things are beyond your control. But know that you will be fine. There were times too in your life when things didn’t work out but you persevere through it. So, be flexible. Things do happen that is beyond your control and focus what is in your control. Sometimes what we plan tend to be interrupted or we can’t seem to follow too. It’s okay. We are humans even computers break down after tedious works. So focus on what you can do now and let it go when things don’t go as they are planned. Be patient with yourself. Develop slowly. It will take time and stop controlling every outcome. Maybe you couldn’t do certain task in a day something came up. Later, you can find some time for it. May not be half an hour or maybe tomorrow or weekend. Designate and do it. And prioritize what is important between your tasks and commitments. Be flexible. Some work may come while doing work. Instead of getting irritated on interruptions, realize the urgency.

b) Things will be working slowly despite results

It may not seem but it does. Its okay we will get impatient at times. It’s okay to remind ourselves, it will take time.

c) But then, you aren’t your goals

Its okay to work on goals but it isn’t our sole identity. We can easily obsess over it and feel lacking if we couldn’t achieve it fully or perfectly. We can easily go overboard as easy as it is to under do.  Keep both things in mind and have balance. I tend to struggle too in this sense. But balance doesn’t mean perfection. Its natural when we devote time in one tasks we can’t give it fully to another. Also, if we couldn’t keep up with planning, we tend to feel bad and take ourselves as failure. So it is important to start little at a time. Things do come. And don’t think on the idea you will be happy only when you accomplish goals. Enjoy life as it unfolds. Life is now. While it’s good to work on short and long term, enjoy your journey. You may not enjoy there as much as you enjoy now. Again that doesn’t mean to give up. It’s to balance yourself whenever you are going extreme side of both spectra. Don’t give excuses and take responsibility for your actions thinking of now and long term thinking about your health and other aspects that mean important to you.

d) Maybe some priorities do disappear

That’s part of change.  As my classes have started and I am also dedicating time for studying, blogging and doing regular exercises, I couldn’t keep up with learning language. It’s okay. I can incorporate slowly when I finally layout my blog. The priority now has changed. But always remember Health is always a priority. So, take care of your health along the way and seek professional help too. As for other tasks, always be conscious throughout the process what matters to you now and for long term.

e) Success may not be tied to one particular thing

So does your success to others. It’s because we all are different.  Always schedule time for yourself and family and loved ones and take care.  We should aim for balance.  There is also fine line between toxic productivity and productivity.

f) People’s opinions

It is nice feeling to have support from your loved ones while you are working. Surround yourself with such people. But maybe some time it isn’t so. But always remember it’s always okay to work for bettering ourselves. There is nothing wrong in that. Maybe some people won’t trust in our capability and its okay. We shouldn’t feel ashamed for working to better ourselves. We should also not feel vain if we are working on our goals and think of ourselves as superior. We cannot control how others perceive us. We also can’t control others negative opinions of us. We can only control our reaction to it. What we can is take constructive criticism and improve ourselves. Moreover, be your own biggest supporter. Be patient towards yourself. Nurture yourself.

g) Read self help books

It’s good to keep our mind open and learn new things. Reading has helped me a lot too aside from course books not only for motivation but my perception towards life has also changed. So, if you have time, I highly recommend you to read books like 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin that changed my mindset.  However, books won’t work until we apply in real life that we should keep in mind.

This finally concludes my lengthy articles How to be productive in quarantine. I tried to include almost all things that helped me so my apologies for being long. I hope it can be helpful to you.  Do experiment what works best for you. I wish you to be safe and let’s remain hopeful in this hard time. We will come strong on the other end of the tunnel.

Feel free to give your feedback and recommend to others if it can be helpful to them. Thank you. If this has been helpful I have another article written on similar topic How to not let others limit your potential and The strive to be the best or even better .Do feel free to go through them. Thank you so much. 


  1. Wow Akriti, this is great!!!!! Would love to see more from you in days to come.

    1. thank you dear reecha for always motivating me

  2. So well explained. Keep it up, Akriti!

  3. Such a comprehensive Writing Akriti!! Thank you so much

  4. What a great start! Keep doing and sharing with us. Thankyou for this beautiful writing! You go girl!!!

    1. thank you so much di. That's very sweet of you