July 21, 2020
Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you can skimp on the downtime. It's been said that we're the happiest when there's a mix of effort and relaxation each day . So, what's this magical number? It's between four to five hours of downtime daily.
When you had to commute to work and put in lengthy workdays, that might not have been feasible. But right now, you may have that availability. Make sure you spend your downtime wisely by doing the following twelve activities.
1. Get your life in order.
Ambitious? That might be your first reaction to this piece of advice. But, if you break it down it's not as colossal as it seems. Getting your life in order is pretty easy if you start with the following:
- Schedule appointments and organize your calendar a year in advance.
- Tidy up your home and workspace.
- Assign everything a home, so you know where everything else, like a key holder.
- Kondo your life. If it doesn't bring you joy, toss or recycle it — this also includes relationships.
- Clean out your inbox and set up a system to keep it manageable.
- Establish realistic goals that will keep you motivated.
- Work on your self-awareness — it can make you a more effective leader and help you overcome procrastination.
- Get your finances in order. Create a budget and look for new revenue streams.
- Be proactive, not reactive with your time, such as sticking to a routine, and saying "no."
- Determine what your priorities are so that you can focus more often going forward.
2. Learn something new.
If you have the extra time, then use it to your advantage to learn. I'm talking about taking online courses that can improve your existing skillset -- and even those skill sets that help you develop a new career skill.
But don't stop there. Pick up a new hobby or skill that may seem utterly unrelated to your work, like a new language. Hopefully, most of us speak one additional language. My second language has helped me be a more well-rounded person and helped me to have a different perspective on most things in life. Right now, learning a new language can be a healthy distraction that will keep your mind busy.
Besides taking an online course, you can also acquire new information or skills by reading, listening to podcasts, or watching documentaries. You can also look for lessons on YouTube or have an expert teach you virtually via live streams or messaging tools like Facetime or Zoom.
3. Cultivate curiosity.
Albert Einstein once said, "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day."
Sure. Being curious is associated with learning, but there's much more to that. As psychologist Deborah Serani told Margarita Tartakovsky, MS, "Curiosity heightens your senses. And when your senses are amplified, you can experience positive emotions more intensely."
In other words, cultivating curiosity keeps you driven, sparks creativity and makes you happy. Best of all? It's not all that difficult to do by always asking questions. You should also immerse yourself entirely in whatever topic you're researching or learning and always jot down your thoughts, and take the time to get to know yourself and those around you.
4. Catch-up with friends, family, or acquaintances.
What better time then right now is there to catch-up with friends, family, and acquaintances? And, thanks to technology, you can do so no matter where they reside or without breaking the rules of social distancing.
Just open up your phone and give them a call. If you want some face-to-face interaction, then use an app like Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, or Zoom.
5. Volunteer virtually.
As you know, volunteering doesn't just make the world a slightly better place. Giving back can also help you develop new skills, network, and give yourself a self-confidence boost. Unfortunately, you can't necessarily help others physically right now.
Thankfully, you can still lend a hand by volunteering virtually at places like the United Nations, Catchafire, Amnesty Decoders and Crisis Text Line.
6. Start a new habit.
Habits, as explained by Deanna Ritchie in an article for Calendar, "are behaviors or tasks that we without thinking about." Examples include everything from "brushing your teeth twice a day or morning and nighttime routines, such as exercising or journaling."
"Generally, habits can help us become the best possible versions of ourselves," Deanna continues. "As a result, we'll be healthier, happier, and more productive." However, they can also be damaging. Bad habits are terrible for your productivity and well-being. You can replace them with ones that are better for you personally and professionally. The key is to start small and work your way up. Just take one habit at a time — to add or subtract. It's the only way to success when making or breaking a habit. After you've made adding or subtracting a pattern part of your habits, you can test out strategies like habit stacking, temptation bundling, and removing friction.
And you can never go wrong with reshaping habits by hacking the habit loop:
- Identifying the routine.
- Experimenting with rewards.
- Isolating the cue.
- Having a plan
7. Share your knowledge with others.
Don't just keep your expertise to yourself. Host a Zoom session, instruct an online course or write a series of blog posts that teach others what you know. It gives you something to do, but teaching has been found to improve motor learning and enhance information processing . Additional benefits are improved communication skills, increased confidence and improved leadership ability.
And while you're at it, keep things closer to home. For example, if you have children, teach them healthy habits like how to manage their money .
8. Make your health and wellness a priority.
Research shows that many quarantined individuals experience both short- and long-term mental health problems. These include stress, insomnia and substance abuse. So, more than ever, you need to make your health and wellness a priority.
The prominent place to begin is by squeezing in time for physical activity. Even if you are cooped up at home, there are more than enough exercises for you to do at home. Depending on where you reside, you still may be able to go for a walk or ride your bike -- just remember to remain six feet apart from other people.
Beyond that, make sure that you eat a healthy and nutritious diet and get plenty of sleep. You can also try mindfulness by using apps like Calm or Headspace. But if you are in desperate need of help, please reach out to a mental health professional.
Many of us will have to help take care of our kids during this time. Children are under a great deal of stress, too, even if they don't show it.
9. Take on a do-it-yourself project and tie up loose ends.
If you're a homeowner, then I'm positive there are plenty of things around that could use a little tender loving care. It could be painting a guest room, updating your bathroom fixtures or finally starting a garden.
Even if you rent, I'm sure that you could rearrange your bedroom, do some heavy cleaning or finally put up those floating shelves that have been collecting dust.
We all have those tasks that we put on the back burner — things that aren't a priority but are important enough for you that you don't want to delegate or drop them from your list. For instance, now might be the time to finally write that eBook you've been talking about.
10. Schedule "playtime."
Embrace your inner child and make time to play. Seriously. Research has found that it's a simple way to give you a physical and mental health boost. More specifically, it makes you more creative, contributes to successful problem-solving, and strengthens your relationships.
So, what exactly counts as play? Well, it's "more of a mental approach to activities, not necessarily the particular activities themselves," writes Tolu Ajiboye.
"You don't need to worry about if an activity constitutes as play or not, as long as you adopt a playful mindset and, of course, have fun while you're partaking." Examples include "taking part in your favorite sport, playing a board game with your family," or solving sudoku puzzles. You can also play games online with your friends, take an exercise class, or cook a new recipe.
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