So last night I read that one in four Americans are currently under a “shelter in place” advisory or mandate. Across the world, schools are closing or doing virtual instruction. Many businesses are closed, running with limited staff, or having their employees work from home. Add store and restaurant closures, restrictions on public gatherings, and social distancing, and we’re in a situation where home is where the everything is.
My employer closed the doors at the end of business on Tuesday, and instructed us to work from home until at least April 6, with more information, and a possible extension, to come later. Yesterday, St. Louis, where I live, issued a 30 day order to shelter in place, starting tomorrow. So I won’t be going back to work for a while. At the moment, I have enough to keep me busy, as my overall workload had reached epic proportions and I had been working evenings and weekends to try and catch up. However, as the day to day stuff has already slowed considerably, and I don’t have the commute, meetings, or distractions, I’ve already made a huge dent in the pile in just a few eight hour days.
It’s a scary time, and there is the risk of cabin fever, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and have come to the conclusion that there are ways to take advantage of this time and avoid going stir crazy. So here are my thoughts on the subject:
Get Ahead of the Game
There are often things in our personal and professional lives that we can anticipate and do in advance, so they’re off our plates when things get busy again. I’ve made a list of things that are due in a few weeks or months, and have started working on those a little bit every day. I’ve also been researching for future blog posts and ordering gifts for upcoming birthdays and other events. Since I’ve been spending a lot of time in survival mode these past few months (see my survival mode part one and part two posts), this is an opportunity to try and plan ahead and avoid getting back in that situation in the future.
Tackle Things You’ve Been Putting Off
Over the past year, my guest room has turned into a junk room. It started with casually putting one or two things in there to “find a place for later”, and then snowballed. Since I haven’t had any overnight guests lately, I let it get way out of hand. I’ve been planning to deal with it when I had time…and now I do. Once I started working on organizing the guest room, I began to think of other areas in the house that could use cleaning out, and have made a list. I’ve also made a list of personal goals and pursuits that have fallen by the wayside. For example, I’ve been trying to do more writing, but keep getting distracted by other things. I have a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle in the basement that has been 85% completed for months. I’m starting to feel like my piano is glaring at me every time I walk by it without even brushing the keys. So I recommend stopping to think about the things you’d like to spend time on, both productive and recreational, and devoting some time to them.
Catch Up on Entertainment
I’m not suggesting that we all turn into couch potatoes, but doing some controlled binge watching isn’t the worst idea right now. In the past few months I’ve missed a lot of movies I wanted to see, and many of them are now available to stream, so I’ve updated my watch list and have allotted myself a few hours of TV time every day. I’m spending even more time reading. Regular visitors to the blog know that I’m a voracious reader, and an advocate for increased reading for everyone (see part one and part two of my posts on the subject), so I definitely want to take this opportunity to advocate upping your page count. Reading has also been proven to reduce stress, and we could all use some anxiety relief right now.
Are you, like me, staying at home? How are you spending your time?