Stuck at home? Tips for staying productive.

Woman preparing to lay down floor tiles

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on normal life around the world. Major retailers and small businesses are closing their doors; leisure travel has almost ground to a halt; the stock market is bearing the brunt of a string of losses; and thousands of schools and universities sit vacant mid-semester while their students are home for an indeterminate amount of time.

For many people, navigating this crisis successfully means being stuck at home for 14 days or more as they wait out a self-imposed or obligatory quarantine. Others may be home due to school closures or because their place of work has temporarily shut down. Still others may be avoiding going out in public in accordance with the president’s recommendation that people not congregate in groups of 10 or more.

While it may, at first, sound like a dream come true, sitting at home without much to do can quickly get old. If you’re one of the millions of Americans waiting out the crisis at home, be proactive about spending your time productively instead of binge-watching six seasons of your favorite sitcom while eating your way through gallons of ice cream. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Learn a new language. Why not use the extra time at home to learn a second or third language? There are many free language apps, like Duolingo, that make mastering a new language almost effortless.
  • Call an old friend. Socializing in person may be out, but the old-fashioned phone still works just fine. A leisurely chat with an old friend can be a wonderful way to pass the time.
  • Get fit. Gyms can be a fertile breeding ground for all kinds of germs and bacteria, but an at-home workout can burn all those calories without the fear of being exposed to COVID-19. There are many exercises you can do without any equipment, like lunges, squats, planks, sit-ups and more. If you’re missing the support and camaraderie you get from your exercise classes at the gym, pop a workout DVD into your entertainment center or turn on one of the many fitness classes on YouTube for a similar experience.
  • Rekindle an old hobby. It’s time to dust off that guitar or pull out the modeling wood and pick up the hobbies you never have time for during your busy working schedule. To keep yourself focused, commit to completing a specific project or reaching a goal while you wait out the outbreak at home.
  • Tend to neglected household repairs you’ve been putting off all winter. Why not use this time to get stuff done around the house?  If you’re missing some important tools and supplies, it’s best to order them online instead of running out to pick them up to minimize possible exposure to the virus.
  • Brush up on your financial knowledge. With the plethora of personal finance blogs and websites available today, beefing up your financial knowledge so you can make the best, informed decisions about managing your money is ridiculously easy. Visit blogs like Thefinancialdiet.comMoneyNing.com, or Mr.MoneyMustache.com for interesting reads on a wide range money topics that can help you broaden your financial knowledge.
  • Declutter. Carve out some time to get started on spring-cleaning your home. Clearing out clutter takes lots of time, and you likely have more time than you know what to do with right now. You can make piles for throwaways, giveaways and keepers. Give your cleared-out closets and drawers a thorough scrubbing while you’re at it. There’s no better time to freshen up the house than springtime!
  • Review your budget. Budgets tend to need frequent adjusting. Use the spare time you have now to review your monthly spending of the past few months to see if your budget needs tweaking.
  • File your taxes. The government has postponed the deadline for paying tax bills, but tax returns still need to be filed by April 15 unless an extension is requested. Filing taxes is nobody’s idea of a good time, but taking care of this necessary chore will make the future you glad that you did when this is all over.
  • Keep stress levels down. Staying cooped up inside when a pandemic is sweeping through the world can really spike up stress levels. Keep calm by ensuring you’re getting enough sleep and minimizing stress triggers as much as possible. This can mean limiting the amount of times you check the news. and/or practicing yoga and meditation. Apps like Headspace can help you achieve complete mindfulness to further reduce stress levels.

Wishing you and yours continued health and safety as we navigate this challenging time together.