Spend it the way you want, not how others think you should
If you’ve been on social media during the lockdown, you probably saw that viral tweet: if you don’t come out of lockdown with a side hustle or a new skill, you’re lazy. Or maybe you saw the counter-tweet: If you don’t come out of lockdown with a side hustle or new skill, that’s fine because we’re in a global pandemic (and just getting by is enough).
To be direct, this kind of polarized thinking is unhelpful. The world is not only a matter of #hustle versus #survival. In this article, I want to take a different approach.
Instead of telling you what you should or shouldn’t be doing with time you may or may not have, I want to highlight a few sources of time that every office worker gains when in a remote work situation. Then, I highlight a few of the ways I’ve spent my own time and seen others in the Peerscale community spending their time. From there, it’s up to you to spend your time in the way that works best for you, even if that means doing absolutely nothing at all.
Sources of time
In the midst of COVID-19 panic, it can feel like we’re more time-stretched than ever. However, if you used to work in an office and now are working remotely, a change in schedule could mean you’ve gained, in some cases, over 10 hours a week.
Here’s how the time-gain breaks down:
- Getting ready: Anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour a morning on weekdays.
This is especially true for people who tend to spend a fair amount of time self-grooming in the morning before heading into the office but are simply doing less grooming, shaving, or not wearing makeup during lockdown.
- Your commute: On average, an hour per work day (source).
- No office chit chat: Up to a half hour a day (source).
- Grocery delivery: About an hour a week on average.
Realistically, we could be looking at lockdown conditions for the next 8-10 weeks, if not more. In Toronto, for example, Mayor Tory has already cancelled all public events and conferences until the end of June.
If this prediction comes to pass, that’s up to 100 hours (10 hrs/week X 10 weeks) of time back in your schedule – more than two weeks of “found” time.
Uses of time
Depending on what you use your time for, that 100 hours can help you accomplish a lot. However, instead of telling you what is a “good” or “bad” use of that time, here’s what I’ve done and seen other Peerscale community members do. In every case, there’s a worthy and valuable end – it’s not all about the #hustle.
If you’ve got kids or an extended family living with you, now’s a perfect time to spend more time with them.
Family time can be spent on:
- Homeschooling kids
- Quality time with kids
- Caring for family members who live with you
- At-home dates with your spouse
Just because you can’t leave the house doesn’t mean you can’t catch up with friends! With technology, you’ve got a bunch of opportunities:
- Video chat happy hours and catch ups
- Netflix parties
- Online dinner hangouts (you both cook your meal, but keep the video chat on)
If you want to use this time to add a skill or start a business, you absolutely should. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Take a university course on Coursera
- Learn a new skill on Udemy
- Learn from the pros on Masterclass
- Do your own career planning
- Start a side hustle remotely
Take care of your mental health
Your life doesn’t have to be about “being productive” or squeezing in extra stuff. If you want to use the time to take care of you, go ahead:
- Read a book you love
- Take a yoga class (there are a lot of free ones on YouTube)
- Sleep in / take a nap
- DIY projects and crafts
- Engaging in hobbies (painting, writing, drawing, baking, etc.) for its own sake
Take care of your physical health
Want to get a sweat on? Or perhaps just avoid adding on weight aka the “covid 15”? Even as gyms are closed, you can do a lot from home to stay healthy:
- Online workouts from your gym if they have them
- Online workout classes from YouTube
- Take the extra time to cook healthier meals that take longer to prepare
- Clean your place (I know, but cleaning will help you stay healthier by removing some environmental causes of illness. Plus you get a bit of a workout and you will really feel great for accomplishing something you have been putting off)
If you’re in a spot where your family is taken care of and you don’t need to worry about where your next meal is coming from, the time you gain could be a perfect way to give back:
- If you’re healthy, donating blood
- Talk to kids on Kids Help Phone
- Help frontline workers with The Home Front
- Volunteer your skills to help a local business in a time of need
- Contact any charities you already support and ask what they need
All these are just ideas. Ultimately, you know your life and you know what you need. Sometimes that’s rest, sometimes that’s getting ahead, and sometimes it’s just surviving and figuring out your new normal. No matter what, don’t feel bad if you’re not doing what someone else thinks you should.