Here’s a list of 10 tips for how to make your days feel different while stuck in COVID quarantine and the days blur together. My big, metaphorical idea is to try to add ‘texture' to each week, texture within sameness. Like something might be all the same color, but there are still differences throughout. Oranges are bumpy and also smooth and soft, or a field looks all green but it's made up of so many different things when you zoom in. It's a little out-there, but try to apply it to your days and weeks and it just might help.
1. Look forward to ‘anchor points' ⚓
Schedule anchor points of the week to look forward to and that have built-in interest to you. Find a balance between fun and practical, routine versus spontaneous. Everyone knows the weekend is great, and Fridays are great because they're basically the weekend. But there's also Taco Tuesday, Humpday Wednesday, and whatever else you can think of to make your days feel different. I turned Taco Tuesday into Doco Tuesday—and watch a documentary every Tuesday night (after nachos, above). Saturdays are for DIY projects, Sunday mornings are for hikes, Thursday nights I work on a hobby. Maybe you get up extra early one day—try these tips to waking up early.
2. Connect with friends and family
This can be huge to get you out of your head, hear another perspective, and try to laugh. Even just texting or emailing can make a big difference, but I think a real phone call or FaceTime can really change your mood. Try setting a certain night of the week to either call the same person or just call someone. Make it an anchor point. Every Sunday I call my parents, and we recently had a Zoom birthday party (pictured above). Wednesdays used to be “pint night” at the local bar, so sometimes my friends and I still have beers together over Zoom. There are also new apps popping up, like Marco Polo, or try Online Town for a party chatroom where you can wander around.
3. Start a side hustle
A lot of people are taking the time now to work on that side hustle they've always had in the back of their mind. Setting up an online business is probably the way to go in the short-term at least, but you could also be planning for a post-COVID brick-and-mortar something. If you've got extra time, spend it researching similar businesses, reading entrepreneurship books and resources, setting up virtual meetings to bounce ideas around with possible mentors, and working on a business plan. There are lots of business plan templates out there that are helpful to just get started, even it it's not the perfect template for your idea. Just google ‘business plan template.'
4. Make good meals
I've been spending more time making food. It's something to look forward to and something to do, with plenty of room to learn satisfying new skills. I only go to the grocery store once a week at most, so making this work is part meal-planning and part creativity. One thing that's helped is setting anchor nights: Tuesday is tacos or nachos, Friday is always pizza (alternate between homemade and frozen), and one night is a pasta night. Another hack is to add or change something with your leftovers to make them “next-overs.” For example, I made a pot roast, and then put it over noodles stroganoff-style the next night, then had the extra noodles with marinara sauce the next night.
5. Get a hobby
From practical DIY projects to painting watercolor landscapes to working on old mopeds, a hobby can take your mind off of all your anxieties. Deep focus, deep work, and play are scientific-ish terms for concentrating really hard on just one thing, which is also very Zen-like. Taking time to focus like this can improve your ability to focus on other important things in your life too, and it just feels good.
6. Try the Headspace app
Speaking of feeling good, this app is a great way to start your day on the right foot. Founded by an ordained Tibetan monk, it plays short guided-meditation audio and video to help with all sorts of needs, from anxiety, focus, and work, to kids and sleep. The app includes music to work to, sounds to help you sleep, and even videos for exercise. They have a free 2-week trial period, and then it's about $5 a month, if you choose to get billed annually.
7. Play a game instead of watching TV
It's easy to turn on the TV and forget about other forms of entertainment… but there are other forms of entertainment! For some board games, you might just need actual housemates, but so many games are available online that you can probably find a good one to play virtually with a friend or solo. Monopoly or Ticket to Ride are classics that move a lot quicker on the computer. Words with Friends is like Scrabble that you can play asynchronously—each player makes a move whenever they get a chance, you don't have to be playing at the same time necessarily.
8. Find new media
We get stuck watching the same shows, playing the same video games, or listening to the same music or podcasts. Make an effort to find new media through the algorithms of the internet; it'll always suggest something you might like. Try listening to an audio book. Or, bonus points for asking a real live friend, and be specific to help guide them. “Hey, what do you listen to while you do the dishes?” Or, double bonus, dig through your old CDs, tapes, vinyl, etc to recycle some nostalgia.
9. Just get out of the house
Even if we can't really hang out in public places right now, just try to get some fresh air. Step outside your house or building for a few breaths and stretches: reach for the sky, touch your tows, swing your arms around. Try these quick exercises. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Go for a drive in your car and pretend you're commuting to work (or on a sightseeing tour with your Grandpa), or for that extra special occasion, get a drive-thru carwash.
10. Make it an occasion and get dressed up
Make up a special event to get dressed up for. You're probably not going clubbing, but your mirror doesn't know that! Put on some fancy pants and dance shoes, a wild costume, or just something to mix it up for a day. Maybe it's a date night with your spouse or a Facetime or Zoom call with a good friend. Or it's just a night in by yourself… let's get weird!
The days are long and… the days are short. What even is time? I know at least some people are having thoughts like this. I sure have. So try to add texture to the weeks by building in different activities. Whether you're home alone, with random roommates, family, or something else, hopefully these ideas can brighten up your day and add some texture to your time.
Let us know below in the comments if you have any other great tips to add texture to your days, and please share with anyone who might find this helpful.
Thanks for reading!