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If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably seen the posts. Freshly baked loaves of banana bread. Quarantine fitness challenges. Before and after photos of someone’s newly organized and spotless home. Some people have called these acts of productivity ‘quarantine goals,’ which has made many worry that they are not being productive enough with their newfound time.
If you’ve felt the pressure to fill your time with creative projects and complete tasks you’ve been putting off for months, but you have yet to cross anything off of your to-do list (other than making the to-do list of course, which is a feat in itself), you are not alone—and you are doing just fine. It’s official: you don’t have to be productive in quarantine.
Being stuck at home does not automatically grant you free time, energy, focus, and motivation. For many, time is being taken up by new tasks, such as disinfecting surfaces multiple times a day, spending longer hours caring for children, cooking each and every meal, and washing an excess amount of dishes. Not to mention, dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic alone can be draining. It’s okay to feel robbed of your energy and focus at times.
If you’ve felt like the world has been throwing you too much to do right now, here are ten things you don’t need to do in quarantine—along with some passively productive things to do instead.
1. You don’t need to clean out all of your closets, cabinets, and drawers
Despite what you may have heard, you don’t need to become Marie Kondo in quarantine. Just because you are stuck at home, this doesn’t mean now is the time to finally take on all of the cleaning and organization projects you’ve been putting off. If you want to tackle these things, by all means, do. But if you’re not feeling up to the challenge, that is okay.
What to do instead: If you’re looking to escape chaos for a bit, try a meditation app, like Headspace. While the mess of the world (and potentially your home), may cause you stress, cleaning it up isn’t the only way you can find peace. Headspace can help you relax, which in turn, can help you focus and sleep better. And who knows? Maybe it will lead you to actually want to be productive and clean out your closets. Relaxation can do wonders for us humans.
Sign up for a year of Headspace for $69.99
2. You don’t need to read a multitude of books
“You’ll have more time to read in quarantine,” they said. They being people on the internet who did not realize that the ‘free time’ many of us now have is now being taken up by new tasks. Not to mention, every day, it gets harder to concentrate, leaving me to do what I did when I first took the SATs in high school: read passages without paying attention and then go back and read the passage again after realizing I have no idea what I just read.
What to do instead: If you would like to read while quarantined, but find yourself lacking the time and mental capacity to do so, there is a solution: Audiobooks. A part of me always feels guilty while reading. Whenever I have the time to partake in the hobby, my mind starts questioning why I’m not spending that time doing something more productive. But with audiobooks, you can do two things at once! You can read while cleaning. You can read while cooking. It’s a perfect solution for busy people in (and eventually out of) quarantine. Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobook company, is perfect for gaining access to a wide variety of audiobooks.
Sign up for Audible for $14.95 per month
3. You don’t need to learn a new language
It was only a few weeks ago that the Internet fired back at Gwyneth Paltrow for telling her followers on Instagram that now is a great time to learn a new language. For some, sure, now is the time they will finally sit down and use Babbel or another language learning app to learn French or Spanish. But for others, no. Whether you lack the focus, free time, or interest, now does not necessarily make a great time for everyone to take on such a complex project.
What to do instead: If you want to take on a project that isn’t so intense, choose something that requires minimal thinking, like a jigsaw puzzle. Puzzles allow you to use your brain without thinking too hard and too much. Not only that, but focusing on a puzzle lets your mind escape from reality for a bit. Bonus: If you get really into it, you will start dreaming about puzzle pieces connecting to one another instead of the weird dreams you may have been experiencing lately. I can confirm. Side note: Puzzles are hard to come by these days, but this one from Walmart is available!
Get the Dowdle Seattle Jigsaw Puzzle – 1000 Piece at Walmart for $15
4. You don’t need to work out every single day
If you didn’t work out every day before the coronavirus pandemic began, don’t feel guilty if you’re not doing so while quarantined. Just because you may have more time in your day, doesn’t mean you have to go above and beyond your normal fitness output. In fact, if you’re able to continue your workout cadence from before, you’re doing just fine.
What to do instead: While it’s fantastic to be proactive about fitness, it’s imperative to make sure you are moving throughout the day. Being stuck inside, you’re probably not getting in as many steps as you would have before the pandemic began. To help make sure you’re not being sedentary, we recommend wearing a fitness tracker each day. We’re currently testing the new Fitbit Charge 4, and so far we love it! We still like the Fitbit Charge 3, though, if you’re looking to spend less money.
5. You don’t need to renovate your home
With more free time, may come the desire to finally paint the walls in your living room, renovate the bathroom, or complete whatever home project you’ve been putting off for months. But with big expectations for yourself comes pressure, and not everyone wants to put more pressure on themselves right now.
What to do instead: If you’re craving something new in your home to lift your spirits, but don’t feel like doing the hard work of DIY demolition or spending a whole lot of money on a renovation project, consider getting new bed sheets. Not only will it feel wonderful to sleep on them, but perhaps you can get them in a different color to give your bedroom a new look and feel. Not only will this spice up your living quarters, but it is something you will use every day, so it’s well worth the money. Our top pick at Reviewed for the best bed sheets are Brooklinen’s Luxe Core Sheets. Not only are they amazing (I own them myself), but they have a lifetime warranty. My Brooklinen sheets ripped the other day after a year and a half of owning them, and they are sending me new ones as I type.
Get the Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set from Brooklinen for $129 – $169
6. You don’t need to knit your own mask
When I was in the 8th grade, the entire class laughed at something I drew in art class. After this, I resorted to strictly only drawing stick figures. That being said, there is no crafty bone in my body that would jump at knitting a mask. I mean, if I did attempt to make a mask, years would go by and children would be learning about COVID-19 in history books, and I would still be sitting there trying to put together a functional mask.
What to do instead: Whether you are artistically challenged like me, or you just don’t have the time or patience to make a mask, there are options for obtaining a cloth mask out there that don’t involve doing an art project. In fact, Reviewed’s apparel writer and fabric expert, Jamie Ueda, did some research and picked out nine of the best cloth masks you can buy from retailers that are making them.
7. You don’t need to cook a ton of meals from elaborate recipes or bake a number of delicious treats
I’m sorry, but I’m never going to bake bread from scratch. Perhaps if I had the counter space in my kitchen, I would order and experiment with the ‘90s fad that was bread machines, but if there’s not a machine willing to do the majority of the work for me, I’m not going to do it. The same goes for cooking elaborate meals every single day. There were a few weeks where I tried and ordered all the groceries to do so. But after a few nights, I was drained. I gave up on half the meals I planned to cook and ended up having to throw out a bunch of produce that went bad. Then, I procrastinated baking cookies for six weeks and now I have a full container of eggs that goes bad tomorrow.
What to do instead: If cooking and/or baking make you feel overwhelmed sometimes, try out a pre-cooked meal service like our favorite, Freshly. This way, you can get fresh, cooked meals delivered to your door that only require you to heat them up before eating. This isn’t to say you should give up on all of your quarantine cooking and baking dreams, if you have them. You just don’t have to be productive in the kitchen all the time. After all, everything in life is better in moderation.
Sign up for Freshly starting at $49.99 ($12.50 per meal)
8. You don’t need to make the whipped coffee that’s all over TikTok
Before the pandemic, I was the type of person who neglected the coffee machine in my kitchen in favor of venti iced coffees to-go from Starbucks. Now, due to coffee shops being closed and having to stay home, I am proud to say I am now a person who makes coffee at home. However, I am not one of the people making the whipped coffee from TikTok. Sure, it looks nice. But making the trendy drink that is popping up all over social media requires time and effort. More time and effort than the new task many of us are partaking in that is brewing regular coffee at home.
What to do instead: To brighten coffee spirits, I recommend buying a new mug that makes you smile. That way, you can be trendy while sipping coffee, too. Not to mention, cute coffee mugs also look great on social media. I just purchased the Rifle Paper Co. Garden Party Monogram Mug from Anthropologie, and I will say it has made my mornings a little brighter.
9. You don’t need to network
While networking is usually always great, you shouldn’t feel obligated to ask anyone to meet for virtual coffee or schedule a time to chat about your industry during this time. And if you do reach out to someone, you shouldn’t feel bad if their response is no. Instead of looking towards and thinking about the future, it’s okay if you are focusing on the now. No one knows what others are going through and dealing with, after all.
What to do instead: If you do one thing with your free time, and one thing only, it should be checking in with friends and family. It’s important to communicate with others to show that you care and that you are there while people are isolated and keeping their distance from others. Zoom is great to use for chats with large groups, and a personal favorite among my groups of friends.
Sign up for Zoom (or, you know, just pick up your phone and call someone)
10. You don’t need to write a novel
Want to know something that is really stressful, but not as stressful as this pandemic? Writing a book. As an author, I can tell you first hand that the process requires an immense amount of time, effort, and focus. Many joke that now is a great time to ‘finally write that novel,’ and you know what, maybe it is. But if you don’t have the extra time, you’re struggling to find energy outside of your day-to-day responsibilities, and the pandemic is hurting your ability to focus, perhaps now isn’t the right time (or the ‘write’ time. I’m not sorry for going there). And that’s okay.
What to do instead: I was—and still am—planning to spend some of my newfound time in quarantine crafting my next book, but on days I don’t feel like writing, I stick to my tried and true method of relaxation: placing my body underneath my weighted Gravity blanket (Reviewed’s top-tested weighted blanket!) and binge-watching TV (I am currently watching The Sopranos, 65 years later). Not sure what to watch next and what service to watch it on? We have a guide for that. I suggest you throw on a weighted blanket and check it out!
Get the Gravity Blanket from Gravity for $189
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