Unless you were recently wandering a desert for a meditation retreat (like Jared Leto), you probably already know that America has been gradually going on lock-down for COVID-19, the coronavirus. Many jobs are either closing or directing their employees to work from home. Schools are closing down, some for the semester and some until just after Easter.
This week, as I began my spring break, Abby got the directive to work from home. Since we’re roommates, we’ve suddenly started to see a lot of each other — which has been an adjustment, for sure. Probably the toughest change to get used to has been our different schedules; Abby has projects to complete and has to be accessible. Meanwhile, I’m practically swimming in free time. It turns out, I can only handle so many tv shows before I feel a bit fried. So here’s my list of 19 things to do if you, like us, are social-distancing at home for an extended period of time, and with varying degrees of free time.
- Keep a schedule. With too much time on my hands, I quickly realized I needed a schedule for my days. Wake up at a regular time (not as early as usual!), have regular lunch or snack breaks, eat dinner at a normal time. Try to keep the day as normal as possible, though you may need to find more ways to fill the days. Also, stay focused on whatever task is in front of you; if you’re on work-time, don’t step away and clean your bathroom, even if “it would only take 10 minutes.” Likewise, when you’re relaxing in the evening, stay in relax-mode — don’t finish work just because you were doing it earlier.
- Work. Obviously, those of us who are working from home will need to actually work during this time. However, don’t be surprised if the amount of time required to complete your work changes while at home. Maybe you get more done because of fewer distractions, or maybe you find it harder to focus because of a different setting.
- Work ahead. Some jobs might be expecting their workers to put in the same amount of time, but without enough tasks. Don’t be afraid to use this time to work on upcoming tasks, organize files, or make plans — you know, all the things you keep saying you’ll get to when you have time. Here’s time.
- Work out. Most of us get at least some natural movement in our workdays — walking in and out of buildings, up and down stairs, getting our steps in. Now that the extent of your walking might be from your couch to the fridge and back again, consider adding in a little extra work-out time, even if it’s just a walk around the block or some yoga moves in the living room.
- Clean. I am not typically a proponent for cleaning, but now that I’ve been home for 48 hours, I’m seeing some areas that need attention. Take a little time each day to step away from your work and clean just one room. It’ll ease your distractions while working later.
- Clean out. While cleaning, start sorting out some of those trinkets and mugs and outgrown clothes. Even if you’re not comfortable taking the donations to Goodwill now, but if they’re already bagged and sitting by the front door, it’ll be much easier to drop them at a donation center when we return to normal.
- Rearrange. With all the time you spend in the same few rooms this month, you may find that some of your previous style becomes a little stale. Now’s the time to try out new arrangements and to get used to them — carefully, of course! Don’t overdo it or risk any injuries.
- Cook. There’s no need to rush your cooking over the next couple weeks. Take time to learn a new recipe, or perfect a favorite one. Use up those ingredients that have been in your pantry for months.
- Craft. We all have those little projects we’ve started, or dreamed of starting. Now’s the chance to pull out the fabric, the hot glue, the paint, and finish up those crafts once and for all.
- Read. You know that “to-read” stack that’s been growing on your nightstand? Choose one, and take some time during your relatively-empty days to finish off your list and learn some new things.
- Binge watch. But amidst all the productivity, don’t forget to take some time to relax. Most of the streaming services are uploading new content even earlier than expected, to meet the needs of everyone at home right now. I have a list of DCOMs I can’t wait to work through.
- Puzzle. I love puzzles, a result of growing up as an only child. Having a puzzle going on somewhere in the house could provide a nice break from the other tasks going on during the day. It’ll also provide a sense of accomplishment once the picture is complete.
- Color. Those stockpiles of coloring books we were all buying a couple years ago will come in handy over the next month. When you need a break from work, cleaning, and watching, lose yourself for a while in mindless coloring. If you don’t have any coloring supplies, I’d recommend the Happy Color app, which has way more images than you could complete before returning to work.
- Journal. With all the input over the next few weeks, from tv, books, and news updates, this would be a great time to record our own thoughts and experiences from the period. It’s unlikely we’ll have another experience like this, and it could prove useful to document what it’s like for our future memories.
- Study. If you ever wanted to learn a new language or skill, now would certainly be an excellent time for it. Even more to the point, though, this is the time to grow closer to God, and to know Him better — not from fear of what could happen, but because you have so few distractions.
- Instagram. I’m not ashamed to say, Instagram is getting me through some of these quiet days. Cultivate your feed. Get rid of the accounts that bring you down, seek out those that build you up, and add to the conversation. This is one of those rare periods where everyone is home, mostly alone, so there’s no comparison game right now.
- Communicate. Most of us are avoiding visiting elderly, young, or sick family members, but there’s no reason to cut them out. Call your grandparents, text a friend, Facetime a cousin. These lonely days will add an extra stress for many, so check in however you can.
- Do that thing. You know, that thing you’ve been talking about doing? A blog, a business, a project? Start it. When else will you have this much time wrapped up and given to you?
- Stay healthy. Stay well, friends. You’re hearing it everywhere, because there’s so little else to do right now. Wash your hands. Cough into your sleeve. Stay home as much as possible. This too will pass, and we’ll be better for it, having seen how well we respond as a people.
As always, we want to know what you’re doing while at home this month. What’s the new thing you’ll start? What’s the tv show you recently discovered? What book is capturing your attention, or which recipe are you proudest of? Let us know (I need new ideas!).