Stay-at-home orders around the world have made people reckon with just how productive they can be working from their living rooms. Inspired by multiple reminders that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while quarantined, people began their self-isolation dreaming of using all that time now liberated from their commute to finally create that great piece of work they’d always wanted to.
But the dream quickly faded, as countless articles told us to relax and not worry so much about productivity during a pandemic. At the same time, companies became very worried about productivity during a pandemic, and it wasn’t helping that their employees had just read a bunch of articles telling them to not worry so much about productivity — which led to a boom for companies who make employee-monitoring software.
Search “productivity” online, and you’ll find ways to cram more efficiency into your shower, your commute (if you still have one), and even your sleep. There’s a whole sub-genre of podcasts dedicated to productivity, and most podcast apps let you play them faster, so learning about productivity can be a more productive experience.
But what exactly is productivity? It depends on who you ask — and how it’s being measured. Here’s what we learned.