You are not required to be productive, to write the next bestseller, or to learn a new language during this time. It’s a traumatic experience that we are all going through.
You are allowed to give yourself grace and deal with everything that is going on in your own way.
That said, some folks have asked for my tips for making this time of isolation productive. As much as I want to sit back, watch the news, drink wine, and just contemplate everything that is going on, the truth of the matter is that I run a small business and have a team that relies on me.
So, I am choosing to stay productive during this crazy time by turning inward, and working on big projects.
Here are my tips on how to be productive during isolation!
Stick to a Schedule
I talked about the importance of setting a schedule in my Helpful Tips for Working from Home as a Freelancer, as well as in Tips for Managing Stress During Isolation.
With many things canceled or closed, schedules can go out the window. Especially when you’re isolating and turning into a bit of a hermit crab, it’s easy to stay up late and binge on Netflix…only to sleep in and do it all over again.
While this may sound fun short-term, the best way to maintain a positive attitude and stay productive is to create a schedule for yourself.
By creating a schedule of tasks you want to accomplish the next day and a set time to get up, you give yourself structure. And right now, a bit of structure is good.
Set an Alarm
First things first, you may not have to commute to work, but if you’re wanting to be productive—get up at a reasonable hour. You don’t have to get up at 6 am (unless you want to), but I would suggest not lounging around in bed for hours.
I swear by time blocking. I like to break up an 8-hour workday into blocks of time (30, 60, 90—whatever is necessary for a given task). Once I assign a project to a block, I stick to it.
This helps so much so I get it done in an efficient manner and I don’t get distracted by things like scrolling through my phone…and whoops—there goes thirty minutes.
Establish a “Clock Out” Time
If you’re new to working from home, you might know the struggle of “turning off” or “clocking out” because there isn’t necessarily a set time for that.
You can send an email quickly or check your phone for updates, but it’s important to allow yourself time to decompress and mentally check out of work. Try to establish when that time is and stick to it.
This is really important to me for balancing home life and making sure I am present with my family and my partner. 🙂
Take the News in Small Amounts
Don’t spend all day scrolling on your phone or watching the news. This isn’t to say don’t watch the news completely—it’s important to stay informed. But don’t let it completely overwhelm you.
Don’t let the news dominate your day.
It can be a lot to ingest and can cause quite a lot of stress and panic—which, in turn, can deter your health and productivity. Stay informed, read up on updates from credible sources, but don’t play the news 24/7.
Plan Ahead and Think to the Future
Make goals for yourself and work on them little by little each and every day. I find it helpful to set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals to gauge my progress and figure out plans!
This also includes planning out future vacations!
While you might not be booking that ticket right this minute, having something to look forward to in the future boosts endorphins.
Take Care of Yourself
By taking care of yourself, you can be more present, and tackle other projects with confidence. Here are a few key things to remember:
Exercise Your Body
exercise is one of the best ways to boost your endorphins and make you feel better. Many apps and Youtube channels are offering free workouts so you don’t have to sacrifice your sweat while you’re home.
While you don’t have to put on an office ensemble, it helps to switch out of your pajamas. That doesn’t mean you can’t put on other comfies, though! I put together a list of all of my favorite comfies to lounge (and work in) at home.
Get Your Sleep
Make sure that you are getting 8 hours of adequate sleep. This is the time to take advantage of being home and allowing your body to rest.
Drink a lot of water and try to maintain a healthy diet as well. While it may be easy to dig into your quarantine snacks, slow down and find new recipes that you will enjoy cooking. This is a chance to avoid fast food and things that might not be the best for you.
Keep Your Space Tidy
I highly suggest making your bed, don’t let dishes stack up, and keep your space clean, too.
Learn a New Skill
While you don’t have to add this to the gamut it can be a fun thing to spend 30 minutes practicing a new skill during this time! As we don’t know how long this will be going on—it might be a fun experiment to see how much you can progress from now until we’re out of isolation.
A Few Ideas: Practice a musical instrument—piano, guitar, learn a language (DuoLingo is a wonderful app for this!), express yourself with 30 minutes of creative writing, get out your drawing pad and sketch what’s around you, you name it!
Bring the Outdoors Indoors
There are numerous ways to bring a bit of nature-based self-care into these times. From taking a camping trip in your backyard or on your balcony to hanging out with house plants to filling up your senses with fresh pine—bringing a bit of greenery into your home is a great way to refresh and reinvigorate yourself.
Find all the ways to Bring the Outdoors Indoors here!
Connect with Friends and Family
Just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean you have to become a complete hermit. Thanks to Facetime, Skype, and Zoom, getting in contact with your friends for a virtual cocktail party is a piece of cake.
Make time for the people who mean the most to you and get that interaction in! This is really good for raising spirits and talking through things.
Clean and Reorganize
Take this time to get into home projects that you’ve been putting off (such as cleaning your closet, putting together things you want to donate, organizing the pantry, etc.).
Cleaning is extremely therapeutic so put on that inspiring podcast and get to it!
Create a Space Just for You
Whether you’re working from home or others in your household are making the kitchen table their office or you’ve got little ones constantly running around–creating a space just for you is CRUCIAL.
Don’t feel like this is selfish, but rather, you’re doing it to be the best version of yourself.
Think about it this way: in a normal routine, you get time to yourself—whether it’s during your commute, lunch break, or elsewhere, you get time to just be with yourself. That may be time to decompress, to read, listen to your favorite podcast.
Right now, things are drastically changing and many of us have had that space/time ripped away.
My suggestion: take at least 30 minutes to yourself and do whatever it is you need to do.
Drink that glass of wine, read that book, scroll mindlessly through Instagram. It’s okay!
Give Yourself Grace
Ultimately, give yourself grace during this time. I commend you for wanting to be productive! But there are some days when things will be very overwhelming and it’s okay to let those emotions live. You don’t need to ignore or suppress them.
If you need to take a day to rest, take a bath, relax, and just be—that’s totally fine.
Another thing: It’s always nice to be nice to yourself, during this time I like to send myself little presents to look forward to and bring a little joy into every day: think books, candles, a new set of loungewear, a hair mask, a coffee mug, or a cozy blanket.
What tips do you have for being productive during this time? Let me know the comments below!
Bonus Tip: Lacking energy but want to do *something*? Take this time to unsubscribe from all the junk mail clogging your inbox!