There’s a lot of messaging out there that we should be using our self-isolation time wisely. Now’s the time to be super productive! Write that book you’ve always been planning! Start a podcast! Build a rocketship, solve a complex math problem and win a Nobel Prize!
It can be a little overwhelming. If you want to just use this time to lie around the couch and watch the entire Netflix catalogue, go for it.
But if you wake up one morning feeling like being a little productive, there are heaps of little tasks you can do that’ll make you feel accomplished. No need to author a whole novel, but if you’re feeling up to it here are some ideas to whack on your to-do list.
Unsubscribe from all those spam emails
Somehow, over the years we’ve all signed up for random newsletters and email blasts that have absolutely no relevance to our lives. My morning email ritual involves trashing at least 20 emails that I never open, vowing to one day subscribe from them all. Well…maybe today’s the day. You can go through manually, clicking “unsubscribe” at the bottom of each email, or use a service like Unsubscriber or Unroll.me.
Change your phone background
Setting a new wallpaper on your phone is a nice little reset to freshen things up a bit. Use a photo that makes you smile, or make a cute collage of memories. Otherwise, you can search through Tumblr for the perfect aesthetic wallpaper – there are whole blogs dedicated to making artistic lockscreens in every style. Have a favourite song or lyric? Search for the song title + lockscreen on Tumblr, Pinterest, or even Google and you’ll most likely find something that works for you.
Clear off your desktop or rearrange your folders
Some people have a clear desktop at all times, while some…not so much. But there’s really nothing more calming than opening your computer and seeing nothing but a couple of folders and the recycle bin. Take some time to go through all the crap that’s accumulated, and find new homes for all your files. Go the extra step and clear out your Downloads folder as well, or maybe set up an ordered folder system to help you keep track of everything.
Then do the same for your phone
Surely there’s at least one app lurking on your phone that you haven’t opened in a year. Go through them all and get rid of anything you don’t use anymore. Make the most of folders, and make your screen look a little more ordered – it’s so calming. I arrange all my apps by icon colour, or you could do it by function, or frequency of usage.
Plan your meals for the week
Chances are, you’ve been doing a bit more cooking than usual over the last few weeks. Take an hour or so to research new recipes and plan out what you want to cook for the next few days. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, you can use Pinterest or YouTube to search for easy three-ingredient recipes. Don’t want to go shopping but feel like cooking right now? Try a site like Supercook where you plug in all the ingredients you have on hand, and they’ll give you a bunch of recipes you can make.
Pick up a random hobby
Puzzles are sold out in basically every store, but there are still plenty of other hobbies you can pick up to keep your hands busy. Origami can easily be done with notebook paper you’ve got lying around, and there are endless online tutorials you can follow. Colouring-in is a super soothing activity, especially if you do it while listening to a podcast or audiobook. If you’ve got a printer, there are a ton of sheets you can download for free. The New York Times posts free crosswords from their archives, or download some Sudoku puzzles and go to town.
Delete old phone contacts
I have phone contacts dating back to 2010 that I seriously need to clean out – I don’t think I’m going to be calling the people that I did a Spanish group project with in my first year of uni. On Apple phones you have to do it manually, one by one, though there are a couple of workarounds you could use. Put on your favourite TV show and watch that while you do it.
Watch a TED Talk
Watching educational videos is a great way to feel like you’re doing something productive, without having to leave the couch. There are literally thousands of TED talks out there just waiting to be watched, on all different subjects. Here’s a playlist of the 25 most popular talks to get you started, or you can search by topic. Want more? I really suggest the TED Radio Hour podcast – each week they collate talks on a certain theme then interview the speakers for more in-depth info.
Clear out your to-watch list
Whether it’s your actual Netflix and Stan watch lists, or just a mental list in your head of the TV and movies you want to watch, now’s the perfect time to start chipping away at it. Yes, you could watch The Office for the fourth time in three years (we all love a comfort show), but you’ll feel slightly more productive if you put on something you’ve been meaning to get to for years.