Quarantine has obviously changed the way we function throughout the day. It’s changed how I get my coffee, how I dress, and how I utilize my free time. To be specific, I get my coffee from the nook in the kitchen now instead of at Daily Grind on campus, I change into workout clothes or my “day pajamas,” and because there is no distinction between work and home, I generally fill my free time by scrolling through Tik Toks or Instagram while sitting in front of my computer. The hours of the day seem to fly by, though I thought I would have more free time because I’m no longer walking to every class, meal, and activity.
So during these seemingly endless days of schoolwork and responding to emails and planning the next day and the next week, it is important to retain both a sense of purpose and productivity. Here are my strategies for doing so!
1. Plan your day
Every morning, I like to list my goals specific to the day, such as accomplish homework, call a friend, or even eat a certain snack. This serves two purposes. The list holds me accountable and helps me remember what I need to accomplish. One specific way of writing to-do lists that I like a lot came from a Shine article by Haley Goldberg that I’ll include below. It’s called the 1-3-5 rule. You write down 1 big thing to accomplish, 3 medium things, and 5 small things. It is way more manageable and it feels so good crossing things off!
An alternate way of organizing your day is in a creative journal layout. My sorority sister and Vice President created one for us Chi Omegas to use, and we want to share it for your organizing adventures! I particularly like how she added in a section to acknowledge what we are grateful for. Particularly in these uncertain, maybe even scary or grief-filled times, gratitude can have a significant effect on our mental health. It keeps us grounded and reminds us what is important – not cancelled plans, but reconnecting with family, friends, and self care, to name a few. Take a look at her daily journal page and comment your thoughts below!
2. Reward your focus
Now that we have our to-do list done and we have crossed off a couple items, it’s time for a little reward. Instead of guilting yourself into needing to get down an excessive amount of things done because you’re at home all day, maintain motivation (and sanity) by taking breaks and indulging in something enjoyable. Finish watching a psych lecture, then get up to grab a snack. Or after completing your math homework, FaceTime a friend. Personally, I like to do small rewards throughout the day – like a 10-minute Instagram break – so I can complete my work by nighttime when I like to watch TV. It’s the downtime I have at night that drives me throughout the day. This is definitely a different strategy than when I was at school, but like I said before: quarantine has shaken things up. It’s time for new strategies that work and will keep you fulfilled.
3. Move your body
I had found myself sitting at my computer for hours at a time without even realizing it. Once you’re sucked into replying to emails or even scrolling through the new recipes you want to try, it is often hard to break away. Your mind needs a rest, and your body needs a little energy! Work to find a stopping point and make time in your day devoted entirely to exercise. If you don’t want to join your mama on yet another neighborhood walk, look up some guided HIIT or yoga workouts.
You know what they say, there’s an app for everything! A yoga app I like is called Down Dog, and Nike Training has so many great guided workouts specific to muscle groups and time. Chloe Ting has challenging but rewarding guided Youtube workout videos, plus a website that schedules workouts for your convenience. A friend also suggested MadFit Youtube videos to me. She has apartment-friendly HIIT workouts, which means there are no excuses! Check out these suggestions and let me know what you think!
4. Be purposeful
Finally, finding purpose while at home will allow us to maintain the level of satisfaction we experience after a typical busy day out-and-about. It’s different than just crossing off to-do’s. How does one find purpose? For me, purpose is accomplishing something I can find pride in. For example, I have dedicated about 15 minutes of my day to completing a few French lessons on Duolingo. There’s purpose in the activity itself, and it gives at least a portion of my day a strong sense of purpose. It is my French time. Another example is my sister’s goal to write a novella. She certainly does not have to write a story, but it gives her purpose to bring an idea to life. To exercise purpose in your daily life, exchange “wasted” time for a time of ambitious activity. This wasted time is not part of your reward time. It’s that 3-hour Tik Tok binge that I am definitely guilty of. You can find purpose in watering flowers, sketching, or writing a letter to a family member.
Share your purposeful activities below!
That concludes my strategy for maintaining productivity and purpose while in quarantine. Commit yourself to the “quarantine challenge,” which is basically just the idea of coming out of it better than you went in. While on a bike ride the other day, my mom, sisters, and I saw a guy running 15 miles for his quarantine challenge. What is your quarantine challenge? How will you find purpose in your day? Feel free to share in the comments below, and if you want to be friends on Duo, my username is (for some reason) Katie699598.
Photo Creds: ClipArt