It is a bit scary out there and with many countries being in a state of emergency due to the corona virus, it is important to quarantine yourself at home and practice social distancing. I normally practice social distancing myself (heh) but rather than trying to avoid people outside, I just avoid them completely by staying in the house as much as possible.
This, of course, means that I need to find ways to spend my time while in the house, that is, aside from working. Here are some of the things that I do to make sure that I am being ‘productive’ while indoors.
I’m lucky enough to have built out a home gym with kettlebells, a treadmill, a bike and a few other gym equipment. Granted, not everyone may have gym equipment at home, but that does not mean that you cannot get in a good workout. There are lots of 7 minute at home body weight exercises that you can do (search on Youtube). Even doing 7 minutes is better than doing nothing.
Action: Here is a great 7 minute workout I have done before. It has an easy to follow tutorial and a useful timer to let you know when you can take a break in between exercises.
Catching up on reading
Being at home means that I have the chance to crack open the many books that I have unread on my bookshelves. These past few days being at home means that I get to curl up on the couch and do quite a bit of reading. Reading has always been the best tool that I have found to help me learn more about something that I think will benefit my life, whether it is my career goals, selling, marketing, negotiation or more.
Action: Pick a book that you have on your bookshelf that you have been meaning to get to. Spend an hour reading something interesting in the book. For me, I have recently been on a Harvey Mackay binge and would highly recommend “Swim with the sharks without being eaten alive”.
Take an online course
Now that you are self-isolating at home, this is a good chance to learn something new through an online course. It is probably out of the question to go to school or anywhere that has large gatherings of people, so why not learn virtually instead? Remember, your salary never exceeds your level of personal development so make sure you are always growing and improving every day.
Action: Coursera or EdX are my portals of choice for free online courses. It really depends on what you want to learn, but I have been practicing my mandarin and learning about branding.
Play board games
Just like my books, I have a shelf full of board games that I have not opened yet. Do you live with others? This might be a good time to play that board game you have been eyeing for a long time. Board games are great – it helps you think strategically, cooperate if appropriate, learn how to negotiate or bargain with others and can teach you a lot about either being a humble winner or handling a loss appropriately.
Action: My house just happens to have four people, so we have enough for mah-jong. If you don’t have enough people or don’t know how to play, I would of course suggest that you play whatever board game you have (or even play games with a deck of cards). I don’t mind competitive games, but I find that I enjoy cooperative games (where it is you vs. a non-player enemy) such as Pandemic (appropriate for these times ha).
Starting that project you have always wanted to start
Have unopened boxes of furniture that you have not got around to opening and making? Maybe you have all the equipment needed to paint, but have not got around to putting paintbrush to canvas? There are a number of projects that I know I would like to start, and having this time at home helps give me the time and the push needed to start that project that I have always wanted to start. For me, it is creating an online presence (next tip).
Action: What project did you always want to start but did not have a chance to? Take ten minutes to do the first step right now, whether it is signing up for your own website, preparing the paint for your painting, or getting your backyard cleaned up.
Creating an online presence
Everybody, I believe, needs an online presence these days. Whether you are happy with your job, trying to start your own business, do consulting, whatever it is, people search for and find you online. If you apply to a job, many of the employers these days will look at your LinkedIn profile and see whether you have social media and how you conduct yourself. If you are trying to find new clients for your coaching business, Google and ads can bring a lot of eyeballs on you.
Action: Do an audit of your online presence. Is your name or brand easy to spell and thus easy to find online? Is it consistent across different social media and web platforms? Do you have videos or photos of you partying on Facebook? If you were an employer and you came across a candidate that had those same videos or photos, would you want to hire them?
Learning how to invest
One thing that I have been getting into more is learning more about different investments: cryptocurrency, stocks, real estate and more. Did you know that you can even invest in art? I saw the other day that there’s a site that allows you to invest in paintings and to get a very good return on your money. Maybe you already have index funds and you don’t want to worry about investing – that’s okay too, but I think you will find that learning about investing will help expand your mind to the different opportunities there are, even if you don’t invest in those other vehicles.
Action: There is an app that I have been using on my smartphone to learn how to invest (Android). I’m sure there are many similar apps on other platforms as well. Youtube has a number of videos that teach you how to start investing, what investments there are and why. This video from Big Think was great in teaching me the fundamentals.
One of my friends is learning Python. She isn’t getting paid to do it. She doesn’t have an end goal in mind. However, I think it is awesome to learn programming. It is a skill that can really help you to be more desirable to future employers, even if programming isn’t part of the job description. Technology these days is everywhere and to avoid or ignore the influence of technology would be a mistake. How do you take advantage of the technological advances? One way is programming and understanding how technology can be used for your benefit.
Action: Codecademy has a great starter course on Python, should you choose to learn Python. There are lots of other languages you could learn though that would benefit you: Ruby on Rails, Java, C++, etc. A good way to see what is popular is to use Google Trends and to compare the different programming languages – you can see what is popular based on the search results.
Connecting with friends through Skype or Facetime
Just because you are self-isolating and practicing social distancing does not mean that you should be ignoring everyone around you. Skype, Facetime and other video conferencing technologies can help you stay connected with friends, coworkers and family if you do not want to go out to see them or if they are too far to get to. In fact, maybe this is the right time to start up a weekly or monthly call with those friends you have not seen in a long time.
Action: Contact someone you haven’t spoken to in a while and set up a video chat. On the video chat, suggest that you make it a regular session, say every two weeks or month.
Conduct a productivity audit
Now that you may be working from home more (hopefully your employer or business allows you to work from home), you can really see how productive you are and what kind of things increase or decrease your productivity. For example, when I work from home, I don’t have the benefit of multiple monitors that I have at my workplace, but does that really help increase my productivity? How does the commute or lack thereof make me more productive? Does having access to constant snacks and coffee make me more focused?
Action: A lot of people have to-do lists to help them get organized and plan out their day. James Altucher recommends that you have a ‘completed’ list. It is a list that you fill out at the end of the day and you list out what you completed that day. Did you make ten sales calls? Did you get that writing done on your blog? Having a done list means that over time, you can see what you accomplished and you can map out when you were more productive and what happened during that day that helped you be more productive.
Clean out your pantry and freezer
This last tip is something that really you should be doing regularly, but I am always surprised at what I can find in my pantry and freezer when I dig around and take stock of what I have. I’ll find things that are expired. I’ll find things that I did not know I had sitting in the back of the shelves. Especially during this time where you may be stocking up on food (or already have stocked up on non-perishable food), this is a good time to really see what you need rather than buying that sixth bag of rice.
Action: Focus on one shelf in your pantry or your freezer. Take everything out. Figure out what has expired and see if it is still edible (if not, throw it away). Otherwise, organize everything according to the expiry date and when you want to eat it. A small whiteboard can help with this – you can write down what is expiring soon and update every time you re-organize.
These are certainly scary times, but just because you are self-isolated and cannot go out to eat at restaurants or hang out with friends or coworkers does not mean that you cannot stay productive. What creative things are you doing at home? How are you spending your time in self-isolation and keeping yourself busy?