Like many others, it has always been difficult for me to step out of my comfort zone and actually get some work done. Besides, being a pro at procrastinating, I spent most of my time fantasizing about being “a better person” sometime in the future. The grand (but profoundly unwelcome) entry of the pandemic has brutally put a stopper on all my reasons and self-preservative (also destructive) excuses. Ever since the lockdown started I had nowhere to go to “urgently”. No people to use as distraction (I have a bad phone reception at home). I could no longer use the age old fish story of not having enough time to do or learn the things I wanted/needed to. Putting it dramatically, I felt very much like a deer caught in the headlights.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2022

Honorable Mention | RTF Designer’s Days of Quarantine 2020

Category: Essay Writing
Participant: Vabhavi Sakpal
Profession: Student
City: Pune


Now, it has come to be literally me, my laptop, my blank sketchbook(s), all my stationary, ample time, working Wi-Fi, a roof over my head, food on my plate and my beloved cats (who are also have food on their plates) stuck together with nowhere to go and no nonsense story to take cover under. Under normal circumstances I would have done what most people I see on social media are doing; given in to an irregular sleeping pattern, binge watching endless series, movies and incessant news of the pandemic’s rapid growth.

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But something in me snapped, thankfully, at the right time and I could not let myself be dragged down. Trust me this is in itself a huge accomplishment from someone who has accepted a below average take on life.

I decided to try to become “The Better Person”.
Which is way easier said than done.

To start with, I had no discipline, no motivation, no patience. An attention span of a goldfish and a constant urge to give up within 5 minutes of starting with something. To make matters worse, I watched videos and read stories of people who always had the “fire” in them to make things work. Which made me feel that people who aren’t madly driven by their dreams or aren’t as much passionate stand absolutely no chance. Normally this is where I would have packed my bags and left the convention of “Efforts taken by future successful people”. But as I mentioned, I had nothing better (or in this case worse) to do and so I decided to start anyhow.

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My challenges were: no faith in myself, doubted my knowledge about my own field (Interior Design), a bit of eco-anxiety, and an unhealthy lifestyle. Spoiler alert: my life has not drastically changed after two months but there were definite changes.

One of the first things I learned about procrastination is that it is not a personality trait. One does not naturally possess the ability to keep tasks for later. It is a defense mechanism developed to favour “the failure of success”. So the first mistake most of us make is expecting a grand end result, right?

While it may work for some, others clearly haven’t been benefitted by it, sad as it may be.

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And so I let go off my mirages and focused only on the task at hand. The success with this method is drastically slow, but I got plenty time! And to my hardcore Law of Attraction fan side, my vision of the end result stayed without compromising my path towards it. Instead of cribbing about my problems, I learned to find solutions. I may or may not always end up abiding the route of solutions but at least I almost always know there is a way out of every dilemma.

  • I won’t get into the technical planning and execution of my project TBP.
    But to break it down I have come up with simple solutions.
  • Don’t know something? – Research it. Read. If that gets stressful, watch videos. (You got plenty time!)
  • Don’t understand something? – Leave it for then. Start again later. (You got plenty time!)
  • Don’t feel like doing something? – Encourage yourself to do it for a few minutes (Key method: Use the same techniques as you would to gently coax a child into doing something. Works wonders!)
  • Still don’t feel up for it? – Leave it for now and take it up later. (You got plenty time!)
  • Feeling low? – Do not try to rush yourself out of it. Go through it. Your negative emotions belong to you as much as the positive ones do.
  • Feeling low for long or constantly? – Pick up a habit that with keep your blood circulating efficiently. (For my couch potato version: yes, I am talking about work outs.)


Some days the urge to put off things is strong. It gets difficult to fight it and so I let it win. After all, I got plenty time! But what I did notice is that I no longer think of it as a setback or weakness. I have learned to accept it as a process and go through it knowing there is something better waiting on the other side. And guess what, there is. I am (almost) always happy to get back to working on myself and I never got so far ever before.

The best part about being productive is not feeling guilty while I enjoy myself. Whether it is light reading that stretched into completing the book or watching a few extra episodes of my favourite shows or just sitting idly (generally fantasizing about my better version). I always feel like I have earned those moments.

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I am nowhere near living my ideal life and I probably never will. But I am okay with it. I have learned to not pressurize myself into doing better because patience has got me farther than unrealistic (sometimes realistic) expectations ever have.

Being an interior designer, I cannot help but to think about the architecture and design in the Life After. Diseases as such have always forced us to think about our surroundings in a new light. I am hoping for a more sensitive approach with respect to the built environment. With sustainable materials and vernacular techniques one can make a huge difference.

Another lifestyle change that we had to adapt to is Work from Home. While it is a new and still alien concept for most of us, I can see it working. It would save a lot of time that goes into travelling to work and since we are getting used to getting work done at home it won’t be difficult to continue so later. Working in the Studio is essential. It brings out more creativity when I’m surrounded by like-minded people and the pressure of a deadline is felt extensively. But work places have, over time, gotten accustomed to a semi-casual take on work, which has effectively increased creativity amongst designers. By learning to divide work between studio time and home time, we could bring about a dynamic change which would ensure lesser crowding of public areas and transport.

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I sometimes find myself curious enough to learn about climate change and how can we contribute on micro levels to reduce our carbon footprint. My anxiety spiked after realizing how my daily life imposes huge amount of threats on the environment. Which consequently made me feel inadequate because the world is so much bigger than my one-person-with-broken-attempts at bettering the world. But I just have to remind myself that I am not alone. And there are so many who have been working for decades and there are still so many who haven’t discovered this way of life.

I have stopped expecting my path to be only of progress and accepted the burps of a regular life. After all, as the Arabian proverb goes “Sunshine all the time makes a desert”.

Remember to be considerate with yourself. You have had a drastic life change. You are confined inside your house. There isn’t much fresh air. No hustling life to you force into being productive. Life became all the more difficult and the “happy, productive” people on social media are mostly faking it.

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and if they aren’t then might as well get inspired by them. Give yourself time to feel miserable. But remember- dusting the dirt off yourself after a fall will be far more rewarding than walking without any falls.

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Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.

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Rethinking The Future Awards 2022