Saturday, March 21, 2020

My Two Best Tips For Thriving In Home Quarantine

Confession: it's kind of embarrassing how little my routine has changed this past week.


What HAS changed is how many of you are also suddenly at home full-time, figuring out how to lead happy, productive lives apart from other people. I'm seeing a lot of boredom, social media overload, and an overall sense of floundering in these foreign, solitary waters.

I've been a professional home-stayer for over a decade now, and while I do have to watch out for my agoraphobia to flare up, for the most part I've been an incredibly content, entertained, and dare-I-say productive social distancer. (You know, before it was cool. :p)

So as a self-proclaimed expert, let me offer two easy pieces of advice for you newbies. Both of these have to do with how you start your day, whether that's bright-and-early or overcast-and-midafternoon like me.

1) Get completely dressed before leaving your bedroom.

Pick out an outfit, do your hair, wear fun jewelry, and especially wear shoes if you can. (Shoes make a huge difference for me; bare feet signal my brain that it's Couch Time.) Most of the outfits you see me post on Instagram never leave the house; I wear them just for me. Picking out fun colors or a geeky t-shirt helps me start my day on a fun and creative note, and also makes me feel like I'm ready to get to work.


This quarantine is the perfect time to experiment with your wardrobe, btw. Try a different Disneybound every day, or dress your way through the rainbow. Wear hats or scarves! Paint butterflies on your face. Have fun. Then take a selfie for posterity, or post it online to encourage others.

Whatever you choose, resist the urge to wear your PJs all day, every day. That's fun for a weekend, but I promise you an all-day PJ habit will drag you down fast, and turn your days into a depressing drudgery. Also if your PJs are really that much more comfy than your day-to-day clothes, BUY NEW CLOTHES. And learn to embrace stretchy fabrics!


2) Make a daily "To Do" list

This changed my life, gang. Accept no substitutes!

Every morning I sit down with breakfast and jot down what I want to do that day. But here's the secret: The list isn't just work stuff! The list is everything and anything I'd like to do that day - even things I want to think about. On my list today I have things like Call Bianca (a good friend), Make Brownies, Brainstorm New Wall Finishes (for a future project), and Do Your Nails.

Adding fun things to your list is essential, so each morning brainstorm what you *want* to do, in addition to things you *should* do. What memories do you want to make? What activities make you feel better when you're stressed?

Don't overload your list, though. If you add too much your brain could do that thing mine does where it looks up at the mountain, switches to white noise, and then leads you to the couch to binge How It's Made for 4 hours. So stick to 15 items or less at first, then add on from there.

If you have a set routine every day, print it out and either laminate it or put it in a plastic sleeve or picture frame, so you can use a dry-erase marker on it. My laminated list is a smeary mess, but here's how it looks right now, halfway through my day:



 
I had to give up my dreams of becoming a calligrapher.

The printed left side is the stuff I HAVE to do, while the write-ins on the right are more optional. Some of my write-ins don't get done by the end of the day, but that's fine; I leave them there for tomorrow.  If something hangs around for more than a few days, then I'll ask myself if it REALLY needs to be done - and more often than not I'll erase it.

I'm a big fan of crossing things out,  but you could also add pretty check boxes, like these:




Google "To-Do List"  and you'll find lots more printable options. Then type in your own list (leaving room for more!), print it out, and find either a frame or plastic sleeve for it!

Are you the spontaneous type who abhors lists? Try this anyway. These are strange new times, and you may need something drastically different to help you adjust to the new normal. Remember, THIS IS ALL VERY WEIRD. It's OK to feel like it is. The good news is we're all in this together, and we're going to find lots of exciting new ways to connect while still keeping each other safe. Promise.

And now, your adorable moment of ::SPLOT::


::splot::


I love you guys! Tell me in the comments your best tip(s) for staying in, or something that's helped you find purpose/joy while you're self-isolating.

******

If you're one of the few who haven't had your income cut off right now, then please consider donating. Not to me - John and I will be OK - but to your out-of-work loved ones! You can use Paypal to send anyone with an e-mail address money. You could also send a friend an anonymous grocery store gift card, or leave an extra roll of TP on your neighbor's doorstep. Oh yeah, and buy more stuff from your artist friends! Many people are more frightened by their loss of income than the virus, so let's do our part to pull each other through this rough patch. 

Remember, sunnier days are coming. Let's get there together.

36 comments:

  1. As an introvert, I feel like I've been preparing my whole life for this. XD And yeah, for me nothing has really changed since I've worked from home for over 20 years. Your tips are great! I should probably try that getting dressed thing since half of my wardrobe consists of pajamas because that's what I wear 90% of the time. There are days when I don't feel like doing anything productive, but I at least have a weekly schedule for doing one daily cleaning chore a day. Monday: clean bathrooms, Tuesday: vacuum and dust, etc. That way the house stays nice and I feel like I've done more than prepare meals and watch YouTube. >_> You guys stay safe!

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  2. Yes, the new normal is the old normal for me (I'm an extreme introvert). Getting dressed is a good tip -- I figured that one out early on (I'm recently retired). But 15 To-Do items? No way. I keep a spreadsheet with 8 categories of activities, and I'm lucky if I check off all eight. "Household chores" is one of the categories, as is "Crafts." Stay safe, everyone. Sending good vibes out.

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  3. Great advice. I'm a retiree with a very time consuming volunteer job. I agree completely with you, and add a couple - eat sensibly. For me breakfast is a fruit smoothie and toast or oatmeal or eggs; lunch a sandwich or salad; dinner is something home-cooked with veggies. You can certainly have burgers, pizza or fried chicken, but that shouldn't be your go-to every day. Finally, don't sit at your desk/on the couch/in your recliner all day. Go take a walk. Do one of the zillion "hotel room" exercise programs that are circulating the internet. Play with your kids and/or your dog.

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    1. One more thing - if you're like me and find this all very stressful, check out meditation apps. There are several I found that are free. I'm benefiting greatly from a short session every morning. This one - https://www.tenpercent.com/coronavirussanityguide - is online and has a short video every weekday. It's been wonderful for me to watch. (I'm not affiliated with the site.)

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  4. I've seen the meme "check on your extrovert friends, they are not ok" is TRUE. Please add that to your list... I'm not even a huge extrovert, I work from home and have been known to go through a weekend without seeing people, BUT i didn't realize how i NEED little bits of interaction. I'm also SINGLE with NO ROOMMATE. So i am TOTALLY ALONE. I didn't realize how much even the quick trip to the grocery store connected me to people. And text alone doesn't do it. I have been video chatting and calling people as i discovered I NEED TO SEE PEOPLE. So, while some of you may be thriving, and others of you may be frustrated with your kids or spouse, some of us are ALONE. Do a quick spin through your mental Rolodex and if you have anyone who is "a loner" even if they are not the most outgoing person, the may need the check in. :) xoxo It's only taken 42 years and a LOT of therapy for me to admit i need help, but sometimes it's still hard to ask...

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    1. Yep, this, you are not alone in your extrovert alone overload. I also recommend steam party games.

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    2. LOLz you should SEE the set up i've MacGyver-ed...duct tape and spit...I use a laptop, an ipad and my cat's condo (hey sacrifices for the greater good) to play games face to face with friends all over. I've hosted three virtual game nights so far. it's awesome. I also have (virtual) dinner nightly with one of my best single gal friends in the same boat. I'm learning what i need to do. Hey, if you want to play virtual games..

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    3. thanks for the dinner idea. :) I'm an only moderately extroverted person...and the loneliness is horrible. I live alone in asia and have only left the house three times in the last month. (If a five minute run to the convenience store for more milk even counts.) I dunno what I'd do if my mom weren't willing to drop everything and talk with skype. It's hard enough not feeling isolated on a normal day, since english speakers are rare, but this last month has been awful. The cabin fever is real.

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    4. I'm also single and living alone, and an extrovert - it's a struggle! I've gone from working in an office and exercising at the gym, to working in one side of my living room and exercising in the other. It's definitely not life as I know it nor life how I like it. FaceTiming friends has saved me!

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  5. I've also been at home for some time, and my tip for not being overwhelmed by my to do list is to write it on a 3" x 3" post it note. There's only so much that fits on there if I want to have any hopes of reading it! Also, the number of items depends on how detailed you get. One of the items (crossed off!) is "laundry". That's only one, but if I broke it out into "jeans, darks, lights", it could easily be three items. You need to figure out how detailed you need to be for yourself. There's no right or wrong, only what works for you.

    I like to leave the "fun" items *really* open-ended, because I'm doing projects that I've never done before. Sometimes I make real progress, and sometimes, like today, I have a learning experience. (Yes, I DO need to primer these cheap picture frames I'm doing a weathered brass/steampunk finish on - just sanding isn't enough for reasonable paint adhesion.) Fortunately, the line item was "work on steampunk frames", which I did :).

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  6. So far, my sanity savers have been:

    1. Critical Role
    2. Get some sun every day.
    3. Buy some fun soaps to add amusement to constant hand washing.

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  7. I find that it's helpful to create a schedule and stick to it. We have a schedule for weekdays that includes basics like getting dressed & having breakfast by 9am, then study/work time, break around 10:30 for physical activity, back to work, lunch at noon, etc. Weekends we get up and do chores around the house until lunchtime, then have some kind of zone out relaxing time. But sticking to the same routines and schedules helps us stay focused and productive.
    It also helps to schedule in the social time, even if that's a phone call. Our neighborhood has started having 3:30pm social dis-dancing time where we all play the same songs and dance on our porches/front yards, and that's been good for keeping us connected and checking in with each other.

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  8. I love working at home so this has been wonderful for me. I worked at home for the past 10 years before getting an office job again recently, so it's been so relaxing to work from home again. I like to get up and do a 30 minute yoga routine while the coffee is brewing and I'm just waking up (I'm a SLOW waker), and take a shower right after I eat breakfast. My shower is my brain's signal that I mean business. :) When I'm dressed (including shoes--I agree so much, Jen!) then I feel ready to start my day.
    I have to admit, though, that what bogs me down is email. If I have a writing project due I have to START with that; if I open my email first I find that 3 hours later I'm still doing that and precious writing time has been frittered away. Anyone else find email a time suck?

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    1. Ohhh yes, e-mail is the WORST - which is why I gave it up years ago. Every now and then John will demand I go clean out the CW or Epbot boxes, but I tell everyone to use IG or FB to get messages to me; they're shorter and easier to manage, so much less pressure.

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  9. This is great! I will definitely use this advice, thank you. But I can NOT get behind the idea of wearing shoes in the house...that's just weird.

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    1. Ha, I think the shoe thing is cultural/regional; I get that reaction a lot. I need the support on all our hard floors, and as much as John travels between the house and garage, this works for us.

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    2. Yes for sure :-) You know, I may eat my words and actually try it. Being open to new things is the name of the game these days. Take care!

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    3. If it helps, my husband and I have dedicated indoor tennis shoes (ones that we don't wear outside). It helps the feet sometimes. Also, we're a family that takes (outside) shoes off at the front door, so there's a lot of barefoot walking on hardwood floors.
      -Ally :)

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  10. I work retail, so I *can't* work from home, but I was relieved when IL's governor declared my type of retail non-essential and I get to stay home until April 7th at least. (My boss confirmed. He's a small business owner and may still go in to work to do some office stuff, but I can stay home.)

    Part of my relief? I may be sick...blah.

    I'm a shy introvert who was out of work for a few years during the 2008 recession, and I was perfectly okay with not leaving the house. I remember making sure I did one house-related chore a day during that time--clean the bathrooms, wash the kitchen floor, vacuum, that sort of thing. It was very easy for me back then to putter around the house doing stuff for the household as well as for me. This time around, I do want to be productive with this bonus time. However...

    If you're not feeling well, REST. I'm having to tell myself this because it's hard for me to just lie around. I *want* to get stuff done, I *want* to work on projects, but I also don't want my mild symptoms to get worse. (They're mild enough that I haven't had a fever, I'm only just now developing a cough, I haven't really had shortness of breath/labored breathing, but I felt run-down enough on Thursday that I knew I couldn't return to work and called off Friday. I also can't get tested right now, as I'm not sick enough to qualify, so I'll likely never know for sure if I have *it* or if it's something else, but better safe than sorry.)

    I'm also relieved that I'm required to stay away from work because God forbid I get any customers sick. This is my fear for the people who are still working. I don't want to leave the house to run errands to protect *them*.

    --Yet Another Jen

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    1. Prayers and good thoughts for you, Yet Another Jen. Stay safe, and be well.

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    2. Thank you. I'm trying! <3

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    3. I'm still working, too - I work at a community college and we're going to all online courses after spring break, so I won't be around any students, but still my coworkers.

      I'm supposedly 'high risk' - I'm over 60 but with no underlying health problems, so I'm still going into work as long as there are no cases in my county. Will have to reconsider in that case, although our current technology is not really amenable to WFH at this time.

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  11. I adore staying home, I've got a 93 year old mother to care for / make sure she doesn't get germs, and I'm home from work until at least April 7th. (And if my retired Dr brother in law is correct, it will be far longer than that.)

    I have enough craft items, books and movies to keep me busy for a long, long time. In between, I'm cleaning and organizing!

    Of course, I spend a good part of the day worrying about everyone else in the world.

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  12. "overcast-and-midafternoon" AMEN TO THAT! With shoes, if you are wearing shoes inside that you also wear outside: STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHP. All that ick you walk on outside is now on your floors and more when you wear them inside. Pick a pair of shoes or good slippers (more like a moccasin/shoe style) that are only worn inside the house. Your cleaning will go down and that's good for everybody. ;p

    First I had ever heard of "no shoes in house!" was in Austria during my 2002 gap winter. My host parents had a basket of slippers that everyone changed into before entering. Seriously so good! We do the same here in our house down unda. Shoes get taken off outside before you come inside. Give it a try.

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    1. Amen to indoor shoes! Over here in northern Europe we never wear "outdoor shoes" inside at home. I used to have good indoor shoes, kinda Birkenstock sandal style, that made me feel fully dressed and efficient when working at home - but those fell apart some years ago and I haven't yet found new ones I like, so I've learned to feel and be efficient wearing a pair of woolly socks :)

      Working from home and homeschooling has been our daily routine for about 10 years now so I'm with you Jen, it's almost embarrassing how little our daily life has changed and I keep forgetting that there is a crisis going on, as long as I stay away from the news. (That's one tip for productive quarantine: limit the time you spend looking at news...)

      This also feels a bit like a culture shock: with telecommuting and homeschooling, we've been living "differently" from most other people here and many have looked at us a bit sideways - and suddenly, our lifestyle is mainstream?? Except that it's a big change that we're not seeing friends and relatives in person and not going to the library etc.

      I love the tips of getting fully dressed and having a to do list. I have a weekly list, not daily, but it's essentially the same thing. With checkboxes, because I like them :D My list does not have half enough of the "fun" things though, so thanks for the tip of adding those in there too.

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    2. I know a lot of folks are horrified by my indoor shoes, ha, but in my defense we have all hardwood floors (which kill my feet without proper support) AND I have a treadmill desk. I don't use the treadmill nearly enough, but I'll hop on for 30 minutes every now and then, so I need to wear good walking shoes. If I had to stop and go switch shoes, that would be just another excuse not to do it!

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    3. Indoor only (tennis) shoes for the win! :) Sliders or boat shoes also work well - you don't have to do much too put them on and they cushion your feet.
      -Ally :)

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    4. My husband works with metal, which means metal shavings everywhere. When he wears his boots in the house, I end up with metal shavings in my feet. So we try not to wear outside shoes inside. I have other shoes that are just inside shoes to help with my bad arches.

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  13. Dress through the rainbow? Looks at goth closet of black. Welp!
    Also stuck working still so....ugh!

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  14. When I found out my elementary kids would be home for a month, I started setting up a schedule to make sure they get up and do their at-home school stuff, and also a menu so they wouldn't be expecting me to make them a fancy breakfast and lunch every day. Both of those have really helped this last week. I agree that getting up and getting dressed right away, even if you're just staying at home, is important. I do a daily workout every morning, and shower and dress after that. My kids are not having pajama days, they have to get dressed, eat breakfast, and be working on school stuff on schedule too. Working on that to-do list, I know you've mentioned it before. I have a list of stuff to do over the next month, but not split up by day so much yet =)

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  15. So covid 19 is incredibly contagious. You know what else is contagious? Positivity. My wishing all of you to have a nice day doesn't detract from the nice day someone else wished me. We can still share smiles while keeping our social distance, greet people across the street, and wave. We can isolate and still socialize. This mind you, is coming from an asocial extrovert or a social introvert. I'm not entirely sure which.

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  16. Thank you for sharing these tips! I agree that it really helps to get dressed :). Just a tip for the laminated sheet; you can clean it properly with alcoholic wipes, so you get rid of the smeary mess from time to time.

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  17. Mostly I try not to go batty. I get a walk in, art for a few hours and try to keep my TV binge time down- thanks for the call, and I'll see ya on the other side of this.��
    Bianca

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  18. If you're used to going in to an office and now you're working from home, I recommend sticking to a similar bedtime and wakeup time - I wake up a bit later now (no commute!) but I'm still up before 7, still showering and changing my clothes, still taking a lunch break and logging off at my normal time.

    Don't forget to get up and stretch and get water/tea/beverage of choice, too! And check in with your coworkers now and then, even if it's just to say hi, share a picture of your pet, or other virtual socializing.

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  19. Thanks for the advice on getting dressed. Sister is out of work for 2 yrs now and I will be joining her next week. But we still have costumes to finish for "Little Women" even if the H.S. actors never get to wear them.

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