As we stare down another 30 days of social distancing (and I anxiously await my latest shipment of Nordstrom joggers to get me through it) I can’t help but think about when this is all over.
But what’s scarier than another 4 weeks trapped inside? For me, it’s looking back and feeling like I squandered that time. As stressful, uncertain, and suffocating as shelter in place orders may feel, this is an unprecedented amount of time given back to us. Unless you are a social recluse, it is unlikely you have ever, or will ever again, have this amount of time to yourself. This begs the question –what to do with it?
I decided to sit down and write out my intentions; things I can work towards to make this time worthwhile. Reframing the situation as time given back to me has been a serious paradigm shift, and I hope my goals may help you to jumpstart your own.
We are a sleep-deprived nation, and the schedules we operate on are less than optimal. One of my favorite reads on this was Daniel Pink’s When: The Science of Perfect Timing. You don’t know a good thing ’til it’s gone, and right now we have the rare opportunity to not only catch up on sleep, but operate on our optimal sleep schedules. Are you an early bird? A night owl? A power napper? Do it! Now is the time to organize your schedule around your peak productivity. Whatever you choose, though, be consistent.
Get serious about skincare
The skin is our largest organ, and most of us don’t give it the attention it deserves. Right now, there is no need to put on makeup, and all the time in the world to stick to your daily routine– whether it be a simple wash, topical medication, or anything in between. Self-care bonus points, give yourself (and maybe someone else!) a facial. If you aren’t sure where to start, these facemasks are great options. And if you’re still in need of ideas, check out this skincare podcast.
Finally take on that project you’ve always thought about
For me, it was this blog. For you, it is likely something completely different. Whatever it is, jump in and own it. The most difficult part of losing a routine is the consequent perception of lacking purpose. Having a purpose and being busy are two fundamentally separate concepts although they may look functionally similar. So don’t just dive into another checklist to fill your day; take the time to work towards something that you find meaningful! If you need some inspiration, check out this Ted Talk on the power of 30 day resets.
Call all the friends you never have time to catch up with
One of the dilemmas of a globalized world is that many of us have friends who are not necessarily neighbors. Usually, it’s implausible to be calling all these friends all the time–throw in different time zones and you really have a conundrum. Right now, we have ample time and privacy to make those calls. Throw your Airpods in and go for a walk, prep dinner, or just chill on the couch; however you do it make the call! You’ll be happy you did.
Spend quality time with family
A few weeks of being on top of one another with nowhere to go and nothing to do makes it easy to forget how precious family time is. It’s been years since my family had this amount of downtime together. The key is keeping that zoom-out perspective to appreciate that this won’t last forever, and one day you’ll wish you had unlimited access and time to get your Dad’s advice. Soak it in.
One of the most poignant pieces of advice I have come across with regards to COVID social distancing was from Dave Hollis:
In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.
It’s a great reminder that not every moment of this time has to be benchmarked against normal as we knew it before. Take this time to look holistically at your lifestyle (and your role in creating it) and be honest with yourself about how it’s going. Are you living in accordance with your values? Are you self-sabotaging? Are you doing the things you care about with the people that bring you joy? Treat quarantine as a built-in checkpoint and course-adjust as needed.
Get certified in something
No, I’m not saying you have to jump on the CFA bandwagon. Take this time to build skills that will inch you closer to something you want to achieve. Interested in interior design? Take a CAD Software class. Always wanted a boat? Get your boaters’ license… or your bartender’s license…or certified in CPR. If you are just trying to figure out how to be productive at home, Grow with Google has great workshops for that. Whatever it is, there’s probably an online course for that. Take it!
We’ve all heard the theories on the power of weak ties. Right now, everyone is stuck at home, recruiters and hiring managers included! Reach out to your idol, or someone you met years ago. Learn more about their profession, or just catch up and say hi. You never know when it might benefit you down the road. The key to remember is to come offering something. When you bring something to the table, you are more likely to get something in return.
Push your comfort zone
There are so many ways to easily do this at home, counterintuitive as it may be. For some people, networking could be an example of stepping outside of their comfort zone. For others, it could mean taking a workout class online. It could even mean listening to a podcast if (like me) you are not an auditory learner. It could mean buying watercolors and trying your hand at something creative. Why not? If you decide to go the podcast route, check out Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us Podcast for some great tips on normalizing discomfort.
Read a great book
The number one excuse for not reading is lack of time. I, for one, am certainly guilty of pulling that card. But right now, without any live sports on TV or social events to attend, there is no better time to snap the Netflix rerun streak and start a book. Looking for some suggestions? Check out my Favorite Reads!