My family is on day 14 of isolation. What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine, you may wonder? You’re still allowed to leave your house when quarantined, at least for special circumstances. We can’t do that.
We’ve left the house one time — to be tested for COVID-19.
We’ll know in about a week if any of us have it, but I doubt we do — we’re all doing fine.
Italy has been on lockdown for over a week, and now some US cities are starting to follow suit. San Francisco just announced a three-week lockdown, and I suspect some other major US cities will be doing the same.
I’ve seen articles with ideas on things to do when you’re stuck at home. I’ve kept the ideas that were the best use of your time, and solicited thousands of people for more ideas… which I got in waves.
Many of the articles I read cover cleaning your house. While this is a great time to get some deep cleaning done, you don’t want to spend your entire quarantine doing that. #WastedQuarantine. But I do suggest doing a basic cleaning so you enjoy the environment you may be in for a few weeks.
If you want my perspective on the coronavirus, as an American living in Italy, or if you want to know the best way to stay sane financially right now, read my last post. It’s a packed post, and pretty helpful if you ask me.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
While this may feel like the lamest one you’ve ever had, it could be the most productive. One idea you could start with today is reading the real history of St. Patrick’s Day. The Encyclopedia Britannica has a great post about it.
This post is full of links and resources. Use them. None of the links in this post are affiliate links; they’re merely here to help you. I’ve compiled all kinds of things into one place here, so you may want to bookmark this post and come back to it. But seriously, use the resources I’ve found. I’m using them!
I’ve broken this down into 6 categories:
Let’s get started…
Is it a coincidence that all of these lockdowns started happening right in the beginning of springtime? Is it a government conspiracy to force you into spring cleaning? Probably. Here are some ways to declutter and make your home a more enjoyable place in which to be stuck…
1. Declutter by Room
Tackle a new room each day, and go item-by-item, asking yourself if you really need each thing. Every single item isn’t going to “spark joy,” but you’ll be able to tell which things you really don’t need, and how few you do.
2. Take a Declutter Challenge
Give yourself (and your kids) a time limit to declutter a certain area. Or give your kids a number of things to get rid of in their closets, and do the same for yours. Here’s a list of challenge-based and time-based decluttering tasks.
3. Declutter Your Car
Take all of the non-essentials out of your vehicle. Chances are, unless you’ve cleaned it out recently, plenty of things can go. While you’re at it, go ahead and detail the inside, and wash the outside. Use this time to get better at both. Here’s a great tutorial on interior detailing, and here’s one on exterior cleaning. Go a step further, and find a tutorial for your specific vehicle, and its specific challenging and forgotten areas to clean.
4. Declutter Your Closet
Pull out everything… everything! Yes, this includes the old ties you haven’t seen in years, and the socks buried in the bottom of your dresser. Look at each item, try it on if necessary, and get rid of what you don’t absolutely love.
5. Declutter Your Pantry
Search for expired items first, and get rid of the things that are truly expired (I know plenty of things will outlive their expiration date). Go through the old spices you never use. Get rid of the old bottles of protein you’ve neglected. Purge.
6. Declutter Your Garage
This is where we started, and in our Italian home, it’s the only storage area we have. That means it’s a big project. To avoid being overwhelmed, we’ve been spending an hour each day going through things. We’ve amassed a mountain of donations… which will be given away… as soon as we’re allowed to leave our house.
7. Declutter Your Computer or Phone
How many folders are on your computer that you haven’t used in years? How many apps do you not use anymore? Use this time to clean that junk up. And what about all of those photos…
8. Sort Your Photos
If you’re a normal person, you probably have plenty of useless photos in your photo library. You know, the time you accidentally took a picture of the inside of your pants pocket, or when you took a burst photo of your kids and only two pictures were good. Delete the junk. Sort the rest into folders so you can actually find them one day when you’re looking for them.
This may sound weird right now since everyone is telling you not to socialize, but you can still socialize with the ones you live with. And with technology, you can go beyond that. If you’re a family of seven, like we are, you can do a lot of socializing…
9. Play Board Games
Fortunately for us, since I just got back from deployment, we had a few Amazon boxes of leftover Christmas presents, which included several board games. Since Amazon is still delivering, why not buy some new ones? Here are 50+ board games that will teach your kids about money, while having fun.
10. Talk to Each Other
It’s amazing how, in 2020, a family could spend three weeks locked up together and barely talk to each other. Turn off the video games and have a conversation.
11. Watch Family Movies
A movie isn’t the best way to interact with your family, but it’s a fun, relaxing way to spend an evening. There may be some movies you’ve been avoiding because of their length; it’s a perfect time to watch those. I’m showing my wife some classics this week, so she’ll start to understand all of the ridiculous movie references I use on a daily basis. I wouldn’t recommend watching movies all day, every day, but it’s an occasional treat.
12. Call/Text Old Friends
Message and call people you haven’t talked to in years. Reach out and see how they’re doing, especially with how chaotic some parts of the world are right now.
13. Have a Date Night
Yes, you can still have a date night. Can’t leave the house? Just lock yourself in the living room and have dinner and a movie. If your kids are too young to be left alone, do it during nap time.
14. Teach Your Dog New Tricks
Socialization isn’t just for humans. This is the perfect time to work with your dog on simple things, or more advanced tricks depending on their current level.
Depending on your current town’s situation, you’re likely still allowed to go for a run, or even a hike. We can do that here in Italy as long as we’re alone, and we stay at least a meter away from anyone we pass. You can use this time to improve your health, as opposed to only protecting it…
Go for a run to clear your mind. Don’t run? Start a running habit. Run for a few minutes, and then walk. Use this time to start building the habit. If you absolutely refuse to run, or just don’t feel like it today, go for a walk.
We live in the foothills of the Italian Alps, so this is a no-brainer for us. If you have trails near you, get out and get into nature.
17. Do Home Workouts
With YouTube, there are so many options. A quarantine isn’t an excuse to get out of shape, but it’s a great time to get into shape (or stay in shape). There are even specific videos to adjust your workout to the coronavirus, not that there’s much to adjust. Just workout at home. Or maybe you have a fitness instructor in your area leading workouts from a rooftop, like this guy. You never know.
18. Do an Exercise Challenge
Start a challenge with the kids. It doesn’t have to be a competition. Give them a number of pushups to start with. Increase it slowly and daily. If they’re not used to doing pushups, use this time to teach them proper form.
Yoga has an eastern-religious orientation, but nowadays, anyone can do yoga without becoming a Hindu or a Buddhist (unless you’re into that sort of thing). Caroline Williams has some great videos to introduce you to yoga from a Christian perspective.
Your kid’s school may have went digital like ours did. Or maybe it’s just paused. Either way, you can learn alongside them in plenty of ways…
20. Learn to Budget
It would make me so happy if you used this time to learn how to budget (or to get better at it, which we all can). With tools like EveryDollar, budgeting is easy. Start tracking all of your spending, and create your categories, and of course, teach your kids to budget too.
21. Take Online Classes
If you’re enrolled in online school, get caught up, or work ahead. If you’re not, consider starting online school. If that’s not an option, there are plenty of free courses online from edX, Open Culture, Coursera, Udemy, and so many other similar websites.
22. Visit Online Museums
23. Learn to Cook
Since everyone knows YouTube is the master teacher, why not learn to cook while you have the time? From Gordon Ramsay to Cuisinart, plenty of professionals have instructional videos. Already know how to cook? Teach your kids! Yes, there are even video tutorials to teach your kids.
24. Learn a New Hobby
There may be a hobby for you that you haven’t discovered yet. If you’ve ever thought about starting a specific hobby, now is the time to try. If you don’t know what to start, here are 50 ideas to help.
25. Learn to Garden
It’s the perfect time of year to start a garden. Don’t want to take it that far? Just learn how to do it. Laurie Neverman has a great beginner’s guide. Even if you don’t have a location for a garden now, you can still learn the basics. Or consider doing some landscaping to improve the curb appeal of your home.
26. Learn a New Language
A few weeks isn’t enough time to become as well-rounded as Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day, but you do have time to start such a large task as learning a new language. Duolingo is one of a thousand options you have to get started.
You’ve got the time. And likely, you’ve got the books. Read one of those books you’ve been saying you don’t have time for. Why not start a new Bible study?
28. Watch a Documentary
Netflix saves the day with some great documentaries. Don’t have Netflix? YouTube has more than enough options to keep you busy and informed.
29. Watch a Free Seminar
Plenty of seminars people paid thousands for are now available for free on YouTube. Why not attend one? Here are five of the best:
- The Science of Productivity by Charles Duhigg
- Best Year Ever Seminar by Jim Rohn – MUST WATCH!
- How to Stay Out of Debt by Warren Buffett
- Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires by Brian Tracy
- Winning With People by John Maxwell
Get creative… in multiple senses. New Zealand conducted a study in 2016 that showed the link between creativity and happiness. 1 Seriously, it’s a mood-booster, and there may be more ways to get creative than you think…
30. Learn to Draw or Paint
Have you always wanted to create art in some form or fashion? Start today. Here’s a great tutorial for learning to draw. This is a good one for your kids to learn how to draw animals. Or learn how to paint, with acrylics, oils, or watercolors. Again, YouTube wins the day; it can teach you any form of painting you want to learn.
31. Learn to Play an Instrument
As a musician, I think this is one of the best options on here. Of course, I’m biased. Amazon has all kinds of instruments. YouTube has all kinds of instructional videos. Sounds like a great combo to me. JustinGuitar is my go-to when it comes to guitar. For drums, I prefer Stephen Taylor first, and then Drumeo, in that order. Marty Music is great for bass lessons. The piano lessons Andrew Furmanczyk gives are easy to get started with piano and keyboard. If you want to get really crazy—like my wife does—learn how to play a Hurdy Gurdy, and write some sweet Celtic music. To answer your question, yes, we are on the hunt for a quality Hurdy Hurdy. My wife seriously wants to learn how to play it, and I support her.
32. Start Writing
Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book. Or perhaps you write poetry. Maybe you just want to journal. Just start writing something. Whatever your heart desires. Writing is a passion of mine so this is an easy option. I just finished the first draft of a book that you’ll see soon.
33. Learn to Crochet or Knit
Not only is this a time for crochetists (not sure if that’s what they’re called, but I’m gonna go with it) and knitters to run rampant, but it’s also a time to learn if you’ve always wanted to. You can find videos for both: learn to crochet | learn to knit.
34. Start a Project
Whether you have a wood working shed, or some crafts and a kitchen table, you can create a project together with your family. Build a bookshelf, make a family cookbook, make a puppet show… the options are endless.
Among all the options to be super productive and conquer the world, you could also use this time to chill. Just relax…
35. Sleep In
It’s not good to sleep in every weekend, because it messes up your sleep cycle, but now that you have some time stuck at home, go for it.
36. Take Naps
Recharge. Get plenty of rest while you have time. Naps can make you more productive, and sleep repairs your body, so it’s a win-win. 2
While you’re relaxing, try some meditation. If you’ve never done it before, you can start as simply as focusing on your breath (and only your breath), in and out, for five minutes. Do this daily and you’ll notice you have a calmer spirit. To take it a step further, try some guided Christian meditation, or download an app like InsightTimer and choose from thousands of mediations (plenty of Christian-specific options too).
Increasing flexibility increases mood and fitness through releasing endorphins. The bottom line: it will make you feel better.
39. Listen to Music
We often put music in the background, but if you’re a huge music fan like I am, you understand how it can be the center of attention. Try listening to music, alone or with your family, just to listen to music.
40. Take Lots of Baths
Nothing is more relaxing to me than a hot bath on a cool day. Sounds like the perfect thing to do at the perfect time of the year.
Use Your Time
It all comes down to this: use your time and use it wisely.
You could be stuck inside for three weeks and have nothing to show for it, or you could take advantage of this time and have everything to show for it. It’s your choice.
Use your time well, and your efforts will be blessed.
- Tamlin S. Conner, Colin G. DeYoung & Paul J. Silvia (2018) Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13:2, 181-189, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2016.1257049
- A, Little. (2020, February 12). Nation of Nappers. The Mattress Nerd.