As we all face the reality of being unable to go to work or school or events or gather in the normal ways due to the coronavirus pandemic, we can reframe our time at home as a gift, as an opportunity to stop and take stock, and tackle some things we’ve put off.
This crisis is an opportunity to be grateful for all the things and people we take for granted – like our teachers and coworkers, fellow students, the coffee people we see every day, our health, fresh air, and the freedoms we have to go places and the abundance of places we could normally go.
Being “stuck” at home gives us the gift of time, since we don’t have to commute or take our kids to soccer or school or events. So, it’s an opportunity to use this time to be creative and productive in other ways.
Here are 10 ways you can leverage the time you’re home and unable to socialize normally – and they’re free*:
1. Call people you haven’t spoken to in a while: Take the time to reach out and see how people you care about are doing across the country or even across the globe, since you can use Skype or Zoom video conference for free.
2. Catch up on webinars and online courses: You may have webinars or free online courses you’ve thought would be great but haven’t had time to do, or you may find some in a brief search of your favorite sources. Edx and Coursera offer free courses from top universities, including Harvard, Stanford, or the University of London, on everything from business to health to diplomacy, for example. You can use this time at home to enhance your knowledge your skills.
3. Do arts and crafts projects: From knitting to scrapbooking to organizing photos (even putting printed ones in albums) to mending socks, or painting a chair you’ve always wanted to paint, now you have the time to do it. Jack Canfield is a fan of vision boards, which he says help you visualize and focus on your goals, so you might make one of those too.
4. Listen to podcasts or audio books: There are zillions of podcasts and audio books out now, many with very useful information about careers, health, business, relationships, industries, or you can listen to a novel….pick your topic. I have a podcast too, called Green Connections Radio, where I interview innovators and leaders in the energy-climate-sustainability space about careers, innovation, leadership, their industry and business – and they also happen to be women.
5. Start the book you’ve thought about writing: If you’re just starting, don’t overthink it or worry about your writing skills at this point. Just jot down notes about what you want to write about and potential points you want to make or sources you might want to include. Nothing is committed at this point. Then start writing! Once you have some prose just saying what you think you want to say for a while, and you decide to take a break from writing, draft an outline of potential chapters. If you’ve already started one, here’s the gift of time to keep going!
6. Write blogs: Write about your experience managing this criseis in your work or school life, or with your family. You can publish it for free on Medium or LinkedIn, or Facebook, or many other platforms. Be sure to write it in Word on your computer and keep it for yourself too. Even if you don’t have a computer or internet access, you can write with pen and paper. Some best-selling novelists only write that way to this day!
7. Cook or bake new recipes: If you like to cook or bake, now you have a bit more time to try new recipes. I like to read a few recipes and take ideas from each one and then get creative – unless I’m making something that requires me to follow the recipe exactly. Baking generally requires more precision, for example.
8. Read a book: There are soooo many great books out to read Whether you want to be transported into a story with a novel, or back in time through a history book or biography, or to get a new perspective in a business or self-help book there are plenty of choices. You can find ebooks, or order them online to be delivered, too. I am a major bibliophile, book freak, and have lots of bookcases, so I am entirely biased on this one – and have lots of suggestions. If you want ideas, ask me via Twitter.
9. Clean and/or declutter your home: While you’re wiping down every surface multiple times a day anyway, now you have the time to do some deeper cleaning. Maybe wash floors, windows, clean out your closets, discard clothes you don’t wear anymore, clean pictures on the wall, dust furniture you haven’t touched in a while, clean out your refrigerator or pantry. You might also tackle your 2019 taxes and organize your finances.
10. Go for a long walk, just to walk: Walking is one of the best ways to clear your head, enjoy fresh air, get some exercise and explore your neighborhood. You don’t need to know where you’ll go, just head out and follow sidewalks. Maybe listen to podcasts or music along the way. I’m a big walker every day, so I admit my bias. And smile at people as you go by, acknowledging them, too.
So, you can choose. You can either think of yourself as trapped and isolated, or you can be grateful you’re healthy and have the freedoms you do have, and you can use the time to do things you’ve said you wish you had the time to do.
Now you can. Please send me any other ideas for how we can use this time creatively or productively – or write me about a creative project you are working on during this time of relative isolation. You can find me on Twitter @joanmichelson
*”Free” assumes you have access to the internet and can buy groceries.