At the time of writing this blog post, I’ve been home for 28 days. My car is still parked in the same place that I parked it when I got home from the grocery on the last day I left home.
It feels surreal that I’ve been physically disconnected from the real world for so long. It’s especially jarring because prior to strictly not leaving home, I had also been social distancing since we recorded our first case of Covid-19 on March 12th in my home country of Trinidad and Tobago.
If I’m being totally honest, the first 2 weeks of social distancing into full blown quarantine were really tough on me. I was not feeling great, I binged watched Netflix, ate way too many snacks and in general, I just wasn’t doing the activities I knew brought me joy.
…and that’s okay.
I realized that over that 2 week period, I was subconsciously decompressing and beginning to come to terms with what was probably going to be our new lives for the next few months — at the very least — and the beginning of a new world. Instead of viewing those 2 weeks as a time of laziness, procrastination, and being lost, I now view them as the time I recharged.
Since then, the last 2 weeks have been some of the most fulfilling of recent memory and I discovered new ways to channel my energy and be productive during this time.
I know that’s a strange thing to say when we are living through a global pandemic, and I do feel a level of guilt for almost enjoying this time at home. There are so many people going through some of the worst experiences of their lives and my heart breaks thinking about those who have lost loved ones, are stuck at home in an abusive relationship, or are understandably completely overwhelmed by what is happening in the world.
With that said, I’d like to take the opportunity to use the strength that I have during this time to share the ways that I’ve been keeping productive and feeling fulfilled at home in hopes that the ideas may inspire you to try something new or restart something you were working on in the past.
Okay, here are the 10 ways I’ve been staying productive and feeling fulfilled during quarantine:
1. Screw the routine
So much advice you read and hear about tells you that you need to have a routine. Wake up at 6am every morning, eat breakfast by 6:30am, workout at 7am and work from 9am-5pm. Many have also said that we should continue doing this doing quarantine.
While this may work for some people, I’ve actually found that ditching the routine has helped my productivity skyrocket. This is because routines tend to guilt trip me. If I tell myself, “Oh, I’m going to wake up at 6am and get a workout in early” and then I oversleep until 7am, I feel really bad about not waking up when I planned to and it affects the mood of the rest of the day.
To avoid that sense of guilt, I’ve moved from having a routine to simply having a to-do list. I create a to-do list on Asana (a project management tool) at the beginning of the week and I work through that to-do list daily. Aside from time-sensitive tasks that I owe clients, I work on the other tasks when I feel best doing so. That means my workout may happen at 5pm instead of 6am if I have more energy then, or I decide to write a blog post at 11pm instead of with my morning coffee because I felt more inspired to then.
If you’re struggling with a routine during quarantine, you may need to try a different approach and a to-do list may be it.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have a stack of books piled up somewhere around your house that you’ve been “meaning to read, but haven’t had the time.” Now would be the perfect time to make a dent in that stack and dive into some of the adventures and teachings those books have to offer.
I’m working on getting through 2 books a month: 1 fiction and 1 non-fiction.
In May, I’ll be choosing 2 new books and writing a What I’m Reading blog with reviews so look out for that!
3. Do on online course
Perhaps one of the things I’m most proud of doing during the quarantine is an online course on Coursera called Viral Marketing & How to Craft Contagious Content by Jonah Berger, a Professor at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.
An online course is a great way to get ahead so when things go back to normal (the new normal), you’ll be coming back with new skills and can implement new ideas at your job or in your business and be ahead of the curve.
Coursera offers a wide range of high-quality courses. You have a couple options with Coursera:
- Pay: When you pay for the course, you’re given the course materials, you’re graded on the assignments in the course, and you receive a certificate at the end that you can add to your LinkedIn or your website.
- Audit: You can audit a course for free and receive all of the course materials including the assignments. However, the assignments won’t be graded so you won’t know if what you got correct or incorrect and you don’t receive a certificate at the end.
- Subscribe: This applies to specializations (a bundle of courses e.g. Digital Marketing Specialization). These bundles are done on a monthly subscription basis since they typically take quite a bit of time to complete.
4. Turn hobbies into business
Do you have a list of ideas written down somewhere, or maybe just this super cool business idea that keeps popping into your head? This may be a great time to start thinking about how to make that idea a reality and turn that idea or hobby into a business.
‘Turning a hobby into a business’ feels like a dirty phrase during quarantine, and I get it. You certainly don’t HAVE to do anything on this list if you’re not feeling up for it, and especially because you may not have the privilege of extra time, energy, or resources in order to do so.
With that said, if you can, I 100% encourage you to do so!
I’ve loved using the time that I’ve been lucky enough to have on a number of projects that I am hoping will turn into businesses. They include this blog, my Instagram, an online course, a podcast and a workshop.
5. Create an online course
Perhaps you have knowledge or a skill that you can share with the world and make money doing it!
Think about it: do your friends and family ever come to you for advice on how to do something? Maybe at work your colleagues are always coming to you because you know how to do something they don’t or are just super good at advising them on a topic?
If something comes to mind, that can be your online course!
If you have a topic in mind, go find other online courses, books, talks, podcasts etc. and learn as much as you can in order to add on to what you already know. Then take that knowledge and bundle it into a course that you can then share with people.
6. Create content
It’s 2020 and the age of social media, so I’m going to make an assumption that you have content that you could be creating for SOMETHING. If nothing comes to mind, there are a number of ideas.
You can be creating content for your existing business page, your side hustle you’re trying to launch, for your personal brand to get yourself out there and establish yourself in a niche, or even just for fun as an expressive outlet.
We (myself included) typically use time as the excuse for not creating content. The reality is a good deal of us have a lot of time now so it would be a great time to create more: Take more pictures for Instagram wearing or using that product by the brand you love. Write a blog post on that topic you’ve been wanting to speak about. Do a tutorial on that makeup look that everybody is obsessed with every time you do it.
Just go for it!
I follow a number of marketers, bloggers, business people or just genuinely awesome people on social media, and I’ve always thought ‘man, I’d love to get to know these people. I’d love to learn from them!”
‘But Arrianne, we’re all locked up at home — how exactly are we supposed to network during this time?’
Simple: send them an email or drop into their DM’s.
Let them know you’re interested in what they’re doing, mention what you’re working on and that you’d love to connect and see if there are synergies between what you’re working on and anyway you can support them.
It’s a great way to meet new people that are working in a similar field to you (and may have a lot they can teach you) and can present awesome opportunities to collaborate and work together in the future.
8. Update your Linkedin
First of all, if you’re not on LinkedIn by now, you definitely should be.
Think of LinkedIn as Facebook but for business. It’s a great way to connect and find opportunities.
If you already have a LinkedIn, this would be a great time to update it with any projects you’ve completed recently, promotions at work, or new skills you may have learned through online courses or trainings.
It never hurts to keep your best and updated foot forward — you never know who could come across your profile and present you with a new opportunity.
9. Start a podcast
Podcasts are not for everyone but they are certainly for A LOT of people, and there’s still an opportunity to make waves even as a newcomer.
I think a lot of us (myself included) tend to overcomplicate what it takes to start a podcast but all you really need is a topic and a way to record conversation and edit it. Those are the basics and you can build from there, especially if your topic is adding value and entertaining your listeners.
If you’re not into podcasts but would like to get started on a few, I recommend checking out the list I made of the 6 Podcasts I’m Listening To Right Now. I also include my favorite episode from each (so far) to help ease you into it.
10. Start an IGTV series
IGTV is not a new thing on Instagram but their ‘series’ feature is relatively new and underused and presents a great opportunity to create a series that will get people to your page and coming back again and again. It’s also likely that Instagram will begin monetizing ads and views during videos like these so it be a way to bring in an income as your series grows.
Perhaps you can do a weekly product roundup and demo, a makeup tutorial, or a heart to heart on a topic that’s important to you.
If starting an IGTV series sounds interesting to you, I recommend checking out this article by Later on how to get started on one. I found it super helpful as I planned out mine.
I hope this was helpful!
What are you doing during quarantine to stay productive?
Are you planning to do any of the ideas I suggested above?
Let me know in the comments below.
For me, it took 2 weeks to be able to get out of bed once the pandemic hit “home,” and I imagine I’m going to have more weeks like these in the future. Perhaps for others it may take a month to get out of bed. Maybe for some, it may take the entire quarantined period. This is also okay.
Quarantine is not a productivity contest and while I am coming here to share ways to be more productive, getting things done during this time outside of dealing with anxiety, stress, and uncertainty of our current state is not for everyone.
For some, the best we can do during this time is to survive it and THAT IS OKAY. In fact, it’s the most important thing. I am saying that because I don’t want you to walk away from this blog post with a sense of defeat or inadequacy because you’re not turning your hobby into a business or learning a new skill.
Do what you can do and that is ENOUGH.