The pandemic is real and we are all under quarantine. You could continue to waste your time monitoring the news for COVID-19 updates. You could also seize this opportunity to do something constructive and practical.
Here is a list of 10 practical things, beyond work, that you can start immediately when under quarantine (assuming that you are well):
1. Reinforce or refine your daily routine
One of the easiest things to let slide when you have time on your hands are your daily habits. This is a great time to force yourself to think about what you do everyday. Reinforce it or customize a fun new routine.
What you could do: Start by thinking about all the tasks you do. Write down what do you do when you wake up in the morning. Then write down what you do before you leave the house. Repeat the same for things you do when you return.
List everything down.
Tick everything that you want to continue. Add in or substitute things you want to try or change. Practice. Doing this gets you to be more mindful of the things you do everyday. You also get the opportunity to get prescriptive with your routines.
What I am doing: I have decided to stick to the major things in my routine. For e.g. waking up and sleeping early (same times as I usually do) and drinking a liter of warm water on waking. I have substituted a few things too. For e.g. I have replaced my regular small snacks throughout the day with a glass of water.
2. Learn something new
Having some downtime is a great opportunity to learn something new. Always wanted to master a magic trick? Or practice a musical instrument? What a perfect time to start. You can even learn the Science of Well-Being for free.
What you could do: Again start with a list. It could be a new thing for every day. Make sure you choose something that would be easy to learn. An alternative could be picking one task and practicing it everyday for the entire time you are at home. Good thing about this is you can continue doing this once normalcy returns. Quick wins are what you are after.
What I am doing: One thing I am doing is refining my cooking skills using the instant pot. I am taking over cooking duties for a few meals for the entire family. I went further and have recruited my kids to play sous chefs.
3. Play a multiplayer game (that forces you to think)
Think chess or games that requires an opponent or collaborator. Keeping your mind active is key. What better way than to engage in a game that requires mental agility. If you have family around, get them involved. If you live alone, get online.
What you could do: For those of you that live alone, try games like chess or words with friends (aka scrabble). For parents, get the kids involved. Board games are fun too (if you have any lying around).
What I am doing: I have created my own games that I play with the kids. This gets me to first figure out a game that would keep my kids entertained.
4. Sleep (turn off the netflix, disney+ and get shut eye)
This is not the time to stay up late. Get your 8 hours in if you can. The only reason why you would break this is if you are doing things that are income generating. Everything else can wait.
What you could do: Build a daily timetable for the day before sleeping the previous night. This gives you something to look forward to for the next day. Set a goal for your sleep time and try sticking to it. Turn off all your electronics. Having trouble sleeping? Youtube “Sleep Meditation.” Hit play. Flip your screen to avoid glare. I promise you’ll be sleeping within the hour.
What I am doing: I have a target sleep time programmed to my fitbit. It gives me an advance reminder of when it is time to hit bed. This is usually the time I try to stop using my technology. I often use sleep meditation tracks to help me get my Z’s.
5. Exercise everyday
At least do your 10K steps a day. No excuses, you can do it. To make things easier plug in your headset and play an audiobook, podcast or music to help you. A step counter helps. If you don’t own one there are plenty of free apps on your phone that can do the same (for all your droid users in particular). Take this one step further. Use Youtube online guided exercise tutorials and get things moving.
What you could do: You don’t need to have a full fledged gym at home to get your workout on. Run in place or do squats. Do push ups on a chair, or fill trash bags with water and use a broom to make a barbell. This last one is usually practiced in prison so please don’t go to this extreme. But you get my drift.
Feeling trapped indoors? Take a step outside for fresh air. Go biking or for a run or walk. Needless to say, avoid crowds.
What I am doing: Dance hour – We play a guided dance routine on Youtube and everyone in the household follows. We do this till we get bored. Exercise routines: My gym posts free workout at home routines daily on Youtube. Check them out here. Apart from this I don’t sleep before my Fitbit buzzes telling me I finished my 11K steps for the day.
6. Do a financial health check
I recognize this could be a source of frustration and worry for many. That said it is a good time to take stock of everything and perform a quick audit of all your finances.
What you could do: Comb through your expenses first. If cash is tight, start looking at unnecessary costs that you could cull. For e.g.: review all your subscription services to start. For example, you won’t be using your gym membership for the next few weeks. Explore options of putting that on an immediate pause. How many streaming services are you subscribed to? Can you make do with one? Next, if you are investing, take stock of performance levels of your portfolio. This isn’t a time to panic. Remember why you invested in the first place and always take the long term view.
What I am doing: A complete net worth calculation. I am mapping and tallying all income streams, expenses and cash in hand. All this while keeping in focus my medium and long term financial goals.
7. Try your hand at writing
Great time to get your creative juices flowing. If nothing else, think of writing as therapy. Writing not your thing? Don’t let that stop you. Record a podcast or a video. Use your time to create and/or capture.
What you could do: Remember the words you put down could help and heal others. You could also catalog your thoughts and feelings through this period. All you need is a laptop or phone.
What I am doing: Putting my advice into practice.
8. Start or complete a side project
This is broad. You may have things around the house that need fixing. Pet projects that you have been meaning to get to but haven’t yet found the time. You could clean a room. Or you could start reading again and work on a side hustle. Whatever it is, this is a good time to start.
What you could do: Make a list of all things you have been meaning to do and not gotten to yet. Next rank order them by complexity and time needed. My advice would be to start with the projects that would take you the least time to complete. For each project you choose, break things down into sub tasks. Rank ordering by time needed and complexity help here again. Celebrate your win once you complete major milestones. Work your way down the list.
What I am doing: Spending more time helping people through Betterment Academy. Reach out if you want to chat.
9. Execute “social closening” (Check in on friends and family that you haven’t chatted with in a while)
This isn’t a time to mend broken relationships. You are dealing with enough drama already. Instead reach out to old friends and family members that you are fond of but lost touch with. I used this time to send check-in messages to my long lost high school and college friends. They are all a message or video chat away. Skip your social media and make a call. I also got creative and combined Step 3 and Step 9 by playing an online game with my cousins. (Check out the game ‘Psych’ from Google Play store).
10. Set goals for the future
There is doom and gloom around us. Great! Perfect time to get positive and to look ahead. Time to set goals that you can look forward to achieving 3 year from now.
What you could do:
Start with a few categories (I have used Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life):
– Physical / Health,
– Personal and Social,
– Mind / Intellect,
– Business / Career,
Setting goals in each category allows you to bring balance to your life. Start off with goals in areas you feel that you spend very little time on currently.
What I am doing: I’ll pick an area Mind / Intellect. My goal this year is to read 35 books (down from my goal of 50 last year). I am using quarantine time to catch up on some extra reading to hit my goal quicker.
I know this isn’t an exhaustive list. If you had to add something else what would it be? If you had to pick one from the list above what would it be and what concrete action steps will you take?
Hit my comments below or shoot me a direct message with your answers.