Making the Most of Quarantine.
There’s a saying in politics, “never let a crisis go to waste.”
It’s a strange reality we find ourselves in these days. After numerous national health scares that turned out never to have any significant impact on the American economy, or on our daily lives, we’re finally all forced to adjust our daily routines at least a little, and adapt to life in quarantine.
Some of us might be fortunate enough to continue life as usual to some extent, while others of us are really having to change the way we do things we always took for granted. School, work, socializing, even just going to the store are either a limited experience or completely unavailable.
If you’re one of the many people who can’t go to work or school, because the establishments are simply closed until further notice, what are you going to do with yourself? Some might welcome a needed stay-cation (if you can afford it)—maybe catch up on those shows that have been piling up in your DVR—but many of us need to do something, either to make money or just to preserve their sanity.
I’d like to offer some suggestions for what to do while you can’t do what you normally do.
If you’re home with an illness, then obviously just rest and recuperate. Don’t push it. Take care of yourself. The suggestions below apply only if you’re not enduring a sickness.
Learn Something New
Especially if you’re cut off from work, now’s the perfect opportunity to take some online courses to sharpen your skills, or learn a new skill that can make you more valuable to your employer; or better yet, might be your ticket to greener pastures. When you make it out of this shutdown, you’ll be stronger and more desirable on the open market armed with more to offer.
If you’re perfectly happy and secure in your occupation, then maybe learn some new dance steps with your partner. Or take some online music lessons. Learn some new cooking techniques. Learn a second language (or third, or fourth). Try some painting or drawing. Even something as simple as birdwatching can add quality to your life, and now you have the time. If you’re really ambitious, maybe take up some theoretical physics!
A blog perhaps? Or anything really! Work on that short story you’ve been dreaming up but never have the time to flesh out. Create your own cookbook (maybe you’re the next Rachel Ray!) Write an actual old-fashioned paper letter to someone who would get a kick out of it. Write a bedtime story for your kids (or your grandkids), and maybe you’ll be the next J.K. Rowling! Heck, “write your congressman” as they say! Maybe some good will come of it! Maybe write a poem for your partner, who will be shocked by your romantic gesture.
There’s certainly no shortage of things to read on the internet (although I implore you to be selective for the sake of your own sanity, and that of the people who know you). Find a new blogger that really gets you. Read some history to gain some perspective on the world we live in. Read your local news, and you might find out there’s more going on in your community than you realized. Read news from sources you might not have considered before—pick a random city, google its news sources and see what they have to say.
There are literally thousands (if not millions) of eBooks out there, from new authors to the classics. See if your favorite author has any new releases, or any older offerings you might have missed. Or try someone new, or a genre you never thought of before.
Similarly, there are a zillion podcasts and audiobooks out there that might be your new favorite thing, given the chance. So do some exploring!
Get Caught Up
We all have projects stacking up in our backlog. Things we’ve been meaning to get done. Things that get postponed for more urgent matters. Well now you’ve got some time, so stop procrastinating! Go through those papers. Sort those collectibles. Replace those old incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs. Change the batteries in the smoke alarms. Cull your stuff for donations. Write those thank-you notes. Sew the button(s) back onto your clothes.
It’s very easy to fall into lazy mode when we’re handed some free time, but if you don’t take advantage of it, you’ll be kicking yourself later when you’re back to a hectic schedule.
Seriously. Clean everything. Clean things you never thought you’d have to clean. Not just because you’re in a virus quarantine and you want to destroy any possible contamination, but because you’ll be amazed at how nice everything will look and smell when you’ve really taken the time to get into the cracks and crevices. Wash the windows, clean the tops of the cabinets, dust under and behind the furniture, wipe down the bannisters, scrub the grout, see what’s between the couch cushions, declutter the basement, garage or attic, maybe even clean the garbage cans.
Again, if you’re nursing an illness… just don’t.
But if you’re not sick, get moving! You know you should. You can’t go to the gym, but there are loads of online workout videos you can watch on YouTube and smart TV channels. Or just do some exercises you already know. Run, jog, walk the dog. Anything’s better than nothing! If you’ve got kids, playing in the yard can be great exercise, in addition to ideal, quality bonding.
What ever happened to that old friend of yours you used to have such a great time with? He or she is probably on Facebook, or someone you both know probably is, and can connect you. This might be the perfect time to reach out and see what’s become of old friends. Have they gained weight? Gotten married? Had kids? Message, text, call, video… there are so many ways to connect with people these days, and they don’t require any risky physical contact, so what are you waiting for?
Unless you just moved into a pristine, new home, there’s probably a bunch of tasks around the house that need doing. Paint the trim. Stain the deck. Replace the cracked tiles. Replace that drafty window. Put up some shelves. Patch the crack in the ceiling. Install some new lighting. Or really go for it and get into some serious remodeling, if you have the skills.
Plan for the Future
There will be a time when this quarantine business is all over, and what are you going to do then? Maybe you’ll just get back to business as usual, but often our day-to-day grind keeps us from really looking ahead with any clarity. Now might be the time to think about the future.
Scout some vacation spots, or consider going back to continue your education. Develop an investment strategy, or rethink the one you’ve got. Look way into the future and think about how you’d like to spend your retirement. Talk to an estate planner to figure out how your final arrangements should be handled. Or on a happier note, set a goal to work toward, and map out your path to achieving it.
I really, really hope that with so many people cooped up at home, looking for ways to amuse themselves and their kids and their pets, that some of us are able to cook up some truly beautiful new innovations that will change our lives for the better. It could be as magnificent as a cure for cancer, or as wonderful as a new form of music, but I really hope the very creative and inventive minds out there are coming up with some clever, useful ideas to get them through the quarantine; and that those ideas will blossom into some very cool stuff we’ll all be able to enjoy some day.
We are all forced into a unique situation now. Life as we know it may change forever after this virus runs its course, we can only hope it’s for the better. If we use the opportunity to better ourselves, and create things that help each other, that just might happen.