14 Apr 2020

The “At-Home” Diaries: Finding Productivity

The "At-Home" Diaries: Finding Productivity on vickiarcher.com

How is your productivity right about now?
Are you ramping up or struggling under this unknown territory we are living through? There are times when I wonder if this is nothing but a nightmare – it all seems so unreal – and others where I’m wrestling with fear and anxiety. I look out at pretty gardens and picture-perfect buildings, look down and I’m reading a daily death tally. Frankly, I don’t know what to do with this. The shock must be settling somewhere and all I can do is take practical steps to alleviate my symptoms. Not a long term solution but right now, like Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.” One small glitch with her philosophy; yesterday, today and tomorrow feel exactly the same. Our lockdown and those of many countries will continue, we haven’t hit the peak of those suffering and I am not sure we are any closer to a vaccine.

What can I do?

I must find the silver lining or life would be unbearable. Mine is productivity.

I am being as productive as I can while being kind to myself and not adding undue pressure. I’m creating and for me, that means writing. No 2 e-book is well underway and I hope an uplifting and affirmative read. Writing and re-writing my thoughts has helped me maintain hope and positivity. I have new-found energy and determination to make much happen in my future. Working on this project has not only re-focused my path for a successful future but also helped my productivity in other areas. I’m reading more and listening to my audios, walking for miles and practising yoga. Cooking is more approachable, inventive and less nerve-wracking; sitting still is a joy and not a penance.

Doing more is making me rush less.

This makes little sense but it’s true; my focal point is narrower but my reach feels further. Creativity is like that; the more we do, the more we can do. Ideas breed ideas and one grows into another. One day when life changes back and access to what we so happily accepted as the “norm” resumes, I will turn these e-books into real collectables. For now, I’m content to get the words down and share them as I can. This new one for the collection excites me. I have asked my niece to illustrate the chapters  – working with her and Amy, my graphic designer, keeps us moving and creating. Encouraging and motivating our colleagues, friends and family is so vital and doing so only makes us more productive.

Fashion, beauty and the rest will return but for now, my head is in a cloud of words. Where is yours? xv

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In This Post:



Linda B Kerr

I have a good routine going, involving long afternoon walks–weather permitting, weights (refusing to accept arm-flab), reading and the most fun part: making clothing, pot-holders, slipcovers, WHATEVER, from my large stash of fabric and patterns. I practice French daily. Another “fun” challenge is trying to make something to eat from what’s in the cupboards and fridge. We already have hardy herbs in the garden: chives, parsley, sparse thyme and oregano, so I try to incorporate those. I will also admit to watching Netflix and Amazon movies


An excellent ist of productivity Linda.. and one I share… your creative outlet of making things sounds fun… I wish I were more like that but writing seems to be what I enjoy… and rearranging things! I pulled out all my closets a while ago… what a shambles! Bad idea…. :)


Dearest Vicki,

I concur.

My anxiety level has risen but not from the virus, per say, but from the “new normal” of my job, teaching or rather, monitoring students’ learning from a distance. Suddenly, my skills as a teacher who thrives on teaching through a healthy relationship with students has been transformed into a position where technology skills are vital. I’m learning, but I’ve been struggling with a mighty enemy: my perfection. While I know I need to step up and use my creativity in another way to be projected electronically, I am becoming fatigued. I’m tired of crying, I’m tired of feeling inferior, I’m tired of feeling scared to present myself onscreen. However, the cloud of the danger around us is beginning to loom larger as I wonder if we will be required to return to school by May, which to me seems way too soon.

I think I’ll take on the Scarlet mentality. Tomorrow is another day.


I am not sure when schools will return but my fear is it maybe later rather than sooner. Learning is how we grow… and not knowing or excelling in a new arena is never failure.., that’s progress. Big progress. I am sure your students appreciate your efforts and forgive any small glitches… you may even grow to like this way of teaching … Thank goodness for a Scarlett way of thinking… it is oftentimes the only way …

Linda B

Dear Anita,
I just want to say that I feel your pain about not only having to learn all sorts of new technical skills, but having to learn to teach without the bedrock foundation of real relationship. The warmth of personal relationship is the bedrock of excellent pedagogy. It must be so hard to “light fires” in the minds and hearts of your students through the medium of cold technology. . . As a retired teacher, I keep wondering how could one make this work now? I deeply admire that you (and thousands of others) are striving so hard to make it work. Thank you for what you do. Somehow, it will all be okay that all of the students in the world have this time of unusual learning experiences, both in the virtual classroom, and in real life.

Nancy Thompson

I am a seamstress so making PPE masks for local hospitals and first responders is what is occupying my days.


Well done, Nancy… and there could be no better way of being productive… How wonderful you have this skillset and can help others where it is so desperately needed..

Linda B

I am also feeling that this is a period of creative renaissance for me. Being creative is one of the few sure things I know to steady my soul, bring real calm and generate joy. Although at moments the anxiety about what is happening in the outer world gets the better of me, or my sadness at not seeing my granddaughter for so long weighs very heavily on my heart, I take a deep breath and re-center on discerning what creative project to take up in the next moment. Sometimes this is a writing project I am creating for myself and my family, a sort of memoir. . . Sometimes it is something in the realm of fiber arts–knitting or thread-painting. . . Sometimes it is in the kitchen, as I invent a new meal out of what is on hand. . . And, I am spending time caring for the outside of my house, cleaning up the yards and planting a vegetable garden for the first time in years, and planning new landscaping.

These were all things I intended to dive into when I retired at the end of last school year, but had not found it easy to find as much time for as I thought! It is rather surprising to realize how much time I was out and about before this. I truly hope that eventually, when we can move about freely again, I maintain a healthy amount of time at home for all these personal creative endeavors.

I look forward to your new e-book, Vicki!!!


Thank you, Linda :)
Yes, I wondered what did I actually spend my time on before! Friends and socialising… certainly my little grandson… oh, how I miss those chubby little kisses and hugs… but I am accepting it will come to an end and as long as we and as many as humanly possible are safe and well.. then it’s what we must do. Thank you for your engaging comments… I look forward to everyone’s comments .. and it really does make the world of difference…

Heather Libeau - Dow

I missed my cafe breaks with friends so have set up a home cafe in my new conservatory – fluff the milk for my latte and order home baking from the menu – currently oaty ginger crunch and Nigellas carrot cake iced like an Easter bonnet
I send my friends photos which has inspired them to find a special cafe space in their home – and they send me photos of their delicious treats
We took the opportunity to meet friends for coffee for granted !


Wonderful idea, Heather… that is so brilliant! we have taken to having a drink and chat with our neighbours .. over the back fence… so bizarre but why did we never meet them before? I live in a very urban area with a mixed and colourful community… it makes for wonderful companions… and it’s good to move out of our comfort zones.. We have taken so much for granted!

Nancye Visser

Just waking up and reminding myself this isn’t a dream. At first I sourced all news available and found it paralysed my productivity. Now limited myself to morning and evening news.
I know I am just like everyone else missing my family and my role is to inject the positive thoughts to ease their worries and disappointments. I am older and a bit wiser and know we can do this.
For myself I have to be disciplined and have goals.
Walk with appreciation and see and feel the beauty.
Make every meal special and nurture ones health.
And there is something about a good laugh.
Thanks for your thoughts and energy to help us all thru. Praying for an end.❤️


So well said, Nancye… the goals and disciplines are helping me… little activities I took for granted, I now relish and appreciate… and yes, a focus on our health is paramount. Take care and thinking with great fondness about our fun times in the past :)

Penelope Loetterle

I must say Vicki that I’m enjoying your posts much more now than I did “prepandemic.” I can really connect with how you’re able to verbalize how we’re all feeling and offer authentic ways to feel better and stay productive. The posts seem to come from your heart and not from Nordstrom.


Thank you Penelope… they always come from my heart, even the fashion, as that is I feel very important. The situation we are in makes us all feel the need for new inspiration, creativity and content. I always use my own barometer when it comes to content and it’s where I am at. I am feeling so much better with the interactions we are having … so hopefully, if it helps me, it helps us all.


I am finding spending time in the garden so much pleasure. Finding little places where we can put fragrant flowers – we have lots of lavender as this is such a beautiful reminder of Provence (which sadly we won’t see this year) – sweetpeas, I adore, with again a wonderful fragrance. I’m planting these this afternoon in a lovely pot for them to grow up a wig-wam structure. I do feel so relaxed doing this. I’m also doing yoga like you Vicki but so miss the lovely ladies in my weekly classes. I’m not really a knitter but have been making neonatal hats and neonatal cannula arm covers. These are simple knit and purl stitches and at the most 18 rows. I can easily manage this. A simple pattern with a good focus.
It’s nice to see we all seem to enjoy cooking too; time gives us opportunities to reflect, relax and remind us of what really is important to us.
I’m glad you are keeping up the writing Vicki as your posts then encourage us to write. Have a relaxing day.


I miss my yoga community and the studio where I go… I have just finished this morning’s online session and I do feel so much better. I have been walking a lot each day and really need the complimentary stretching. I would love some sweet peas but not sure where I could grow them on my terrace successfully with a frame… will look as I adore them… We will both miss Provence… I can’t quite believe i may not be there for many many months…


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