If only we could all be as productive as Taylor Swift.
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It’s difficult to stay motivated and get major projects done during the pandemic, especially if you’re working from home, dealing with financial difficulties, homeschooling kids, caring for sick relatives, grappling with a mental health crisis, or experiencing a combination of all those things. So when Taylor Swift wrote and recorded not one, but two albums during quarantine, the internet was impressed.
The singer-songwriter announced a new album called “Evermore” on Thursday, less than five months after releasing her first album of 2020 called “Folklore.”
Swift broke the news in a tweet, saying, “Ever since I was 13, I’ve been excited about turning 31 because it’s my lucky number backwards, which is why I wanted to surprise you with this now. You’ve all been so caring, supportive and thoughtful on my birthdays and so this time I thought I would give you something!” Swift’s birthday is on Sunday.
Yes, it’s incredibly impressive.
But productivity looks different for everyone, especially during the pandemic, a time when nearly every aspect of our lives has been uprooted. For some people, it’s a struggle to put food on the table, and bringing home a paycheck is an accomplishment.
Plus, Swift isn’t exactly on equal footing with the rest of us.
“I suspect she has a tremendous team of professionals that support her and back her up and help her and provide that structure that she needs to keep her moving forward,” productivity leadership coach Ellen Faye told CNN Business.
People on Twitter were quick to recognize this dichotomy, responding to Swift’s announcement. “Don’t feel bad about your own work because Taylor Swift wrote two albums during a pandemic. She most likely doesn’t have the same money/job worries you do,” writer Jen A. Miller tweeted. “No offense to Taylor! But her productivity from a massively different financial position makes a difference.”
Comedian Blaire Erskine tweeted, “what kind of vitamins is taylor swift taking to be so productive and can my doctor legally prescribe them to me.”
Swift isn’t the only person who went into productivity overdrive during the pandemic. There are many people who are starting small businesses, excelling with new hobbies or writing books.
ZipRecruiter CEO Ian Siegel, for example, wrote a book during quarantine. “With the pandemic, our company moved to fully remote work, and I found myself with extra hours in the day normally dedicated to commuting or socializing,” he said. “I used the time to write the book.”
But there’s often a misconception that you have to overwork if you want to be productive.
“Productivity is doing your best work as effectively and efficiently as possible so that when you’re not working, you don’t have to feel the stress, and when you are working you can enjoy it,” Faye said.
The virus and political landscape has added extra stress and anxiety for many Americans, but when it comes to how we’re doing while working from home, a recent survey showed that 94% of employers said their company productivity is the same or higher than it was before the pandemic. And most of that productivity can likely be attributed to work-life balance.
Productivity is holistic, going beyond marking things off your to-do list. It’s physical, spiritual, mental and emotional, said Kathryn McKinnon, executive coach at Harvard Business School. “It’s not necessarily about what you do,” McKinnon said. “Because I think we all want experiences and not enough people consider the emotional aspect of productivity.”
“You can’t be your best self on a long-term basis without caring for yourself,” Faye said. “If you continually give 16 hours a day without taking time for whatever refuels you, you’re going to burn out.”