This teenager has taken 'productivity' to a whole new level. Read on to find out what keeps her ticking

Archa, a Class XI student, speaks about her nearly obsessive need to stay productive, pandemic or not
Archa has a lot going on for a 16-year old
Archa has a lot going on for a 16-year old

I have a question for all of you who got to spend the first lockdown at home. Apart from work or school/college, what did you do during your free time? Mastered Dalgona coffee or learnt a new artform, perhaps? Found yourself a passion project, maybe? While there is no doubt that everyone found some way to keep themselves occupied, we found someone who went all out crazy and spent her time in lockdown super productively. Here is the story of 16-year-old Archa AJ, who voraciously consumed online certificate courses like they were M&Ms. And it didn't stop there, she published three books and scores of articles and essays too! This Class XI student at Jyothis Central School in Thiruvananthapuram lets us in on her motivation and how she found her niche area of liking. Excerpts from a lively conversation:

1. So Archa, tell us a bit about yourself. 

I am an eleventh grader studying humanities. To speak of my areas of interest, I love writing very much. I love penning down short stories and poems in my free time. I am a dance aficionado as well. I am learning three dance forms right now — Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam. Some may call me an overachiever, but I prefer to be in a constant state of learning to improve my knowledge of the world.

2. Tell me about the scores of certificate courses that you have completed. Where did it all start?

I saw a lot of news and notifications about COVID-19 by the WHO and other UN agencies when the pandemic was declared. I started searching for more such news and notifications and I found a lot of courses on these. They were on a lot of subject areas that I was interested in, like health and COVID-19. I felt I could use the opportunity to learn more about such topics. Soon, I came to know about other related courses being provided by other UN agencies. I started doing those as well. What really enabled me to do so many courses was that after my Class X exams, I got a long break from studies and I wanted to spend my time doing something productive. In the end, I did about 106 courses in a month's time and 153 in total. We've even applied for a record in the India Book of Records.

3. What has been the real driving force behind you attempting so many courses?

When I first started doing the courses, I found many that were in subject areas of my particular interest. I was keen on doing them in my free time. At the same time, my cousin made a short film and that really motivated me to do something worthwhile and spend this time on doing something creative and productive. I realised that the lockdown could serve as a time for me to do things that cater to my interest and the courses were a part of it.

4. You also started writing to spend your time well, but did publishing your work ever occur to you? 

Yes, I did and yes, publishing did occur to me. In fact, I have published three books already. The first one was Kavitha Pookkunna Classmurikal, a collection of short poems. The next one was Code Number 11, a collection of short stories. Finally, I wrote a book based on studies that I conducted titled Ente Paristhithi Padanangal. Besides these, I have also been an active writer of articles and essays. Like I said, I love writing very much.

5. So what's next. What have you lined up for yourself?

My dance classes are going on now, virtually. Although it is not the same as physical classes, it keeps me involved somehow. I now have more time on my hands as I don't have to spend it travelling from place to place. The online mode has that advantage. The downside is that I am not able to meet my friends and socialise. However, I am trying to focus on myself and remain content in these testing times.

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